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Discursive Essay on How Ned Kelly Became an Australian Legend

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The task is to examine the key events, actions, beliefs, and values of groups, the causes and effects of the events, and developments from a number of perspectives. This research task is aimed on Ned Kelly’s life and That Ned Kelly became an Australian Legend and folk hero because he struggled for the oppressed against the oppressors.

Focus Question 1: Who was Ned Kelly?

Ned Kelly was a bushranger and was born in June 1855 at Beveridge, Victoria. His father was John Kelly and his mother was Ellen Kelly. Ned became the father of his family at a very young age because of his father's early death.In 1869 Ned was arrested for alleged assault on a Chinaman and held for ten days on remand but the charge was dismissed. Next year he was arrested and held in custody for seven weeks as a suspected accomplice of the bushranger, Harry Power, but again the charge was dismissed (V.Barry, 1974).

Focus Question 2: What is an Australian legend and what is a folk hero?

A folk hero or national hero is a type of hero real, fictional or mythological – with the sole salient characteristic being the imprinting of his or her name, personality, and deeds in the popular consciousness of a people. The lives of folk heroes are generally fictional, their characteristics and deeds often exaggerated to mythic proportions. The folk hero often begins life as a normal person but is transformed into someone extraordinary by significant life events, often in response to social injustice, and sometimes in response to natural disasters. (Seal, 2001)

Focus Question 3: Who were the oppressed and who were the oppressors?

The squatters allowed others to rent it but had to give back small portions, so that poor families like the Kelly's could rent it. But the wealthy squatters fought this tooth and nail. They made sure that only the worst farmland came available for selection by the poor families. And of that limited supply, the squatters then reclaimed 2/3 of it by hiring agents who pretended to rent it, only to give it right back once the government stopped looking. And when legitimate selectors, non-rich farmers like the Kelly family, managed to squeeze through all of those obstacles, the squatters did everything they could to drive them to bankruptcy. They impounded their animals, they cut off their water access, they paid police to investigate, and even arrest them. This was why police had come to the house to investigate, and then arrest Ned's father all those years ago for stealing a cow from a wealthy neighbor. Because the police had been paid by that neighbor to do so.

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Focus Question 4: Why did Ned Kelly fight against the police?

Ned Kelly was born in a time where there is no word as justice for us poor people. The polices have the dirtiest mind and they don’t even see them as humanbeings. The police punish the poor people accuse them of bring thieves and punish them without even giving them a chance to defend themselves. He believed he became one of such victim at a very young age. When he was 15 a local policeman came to arrest his uncle wrongly accusing him of stealing a horse and therefore pleaded for his innocence and as a result of this making himself a target of the police for the rest of my life. Ever since that day, the police had become shadow and they never really left me. At the age of 15 I was first sent to jail for three years being accused of stealing a horse which I knew nothing about. When I came back from jail I saw 31 of my 32 horses had been taken by a local police officer. This reflects the story of the police and the government basically. They are the biggest thieves themselves they find happiness in the sadness of innocent people. I was a man who looked for a way to stop this harsh injustice against such helpless and free them from jails. Me being a victim I had good reasons to do so. With the help of my friends, my family, my relatives and my stepfather I decided to teach this evil men a lesson somehow

Focus Question 5: Was his struggle for personal reasons or was he fighting for more people than just himself and his family?

I think Ned Kelly was a hero because he always had a belief that the social inequalities of his days should be righted. He became caught up in a series of events over which he had little control. Towards the end he was no longer just fighting for his beliefs, he was fighting for his life, and the lives of his friends. Up until his final moments he still firmly believed he had fought for a just cause. To me, his final words “Such is life” suggest that he had tried his hardest to live for and by his beliefs. He died a man of honour, loyal to his friends, family, and class. He died a spokesman for an entire generation of the oppressed.

Focus Question 6: Was Ned Kelly a hero or a Villain?

Ned Kelly was only seen as a villain by the upper classes. His sympathizers in the lower classes were treated very badly, being held for months on end without charges or trial. They weren’t allowed to take up land holdings in the region as an attempt to get them out of North-East Victoria. The police were trying to discourage support of Ned Kelly within the lower classes. Their efforts weren’t successful, as 30,000 Victorians signed a petition, sympathetic to Ned, to stop him from being hanged. Also, the majority of people receiving a share of the reward money for the capture of the Kelly Gang were either in the police force, employees of the railways, or native trackers hired by the police.

Focus Question 7: Would Ned Kelly’s victims view his story as heroic?

During his short life, Kelly was a polarising figure and remains one today – so much so that his family members have taken the precaution of burying him in an unmarked grave. Many view Kelly not so much as a folk hero but as a convicted murderer responsible for the death of three police officers. They would see it as justice that his victims – police officers Michael Scanlan, Michael Kennedy, and Thomas Lonigan – have prominent tombstones and a large memorial in the Victorian mountain town of Mansfield, while Kelly lies in an unmarked grave. An exploration of Kelly’s life, however, reveals some of the reasons why he became the quintessential Australian folk hero – a bush-loving rebel who stuck it to the authorities Conclusion: In conclusion, I can state my hypothesis that Ned Kelly became an Australian Legend and folk hero because he struggled for the oppressed against the oppressors was proven correct and has had enough evidence to ensure it is correct and that there have even been different opinions and views on the sources to disagree with him and agree. Ned Kelly was found to have only done bad for the right reasons and not for the wrong.

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Discursive Essay on How Ned Kelly Became an Australian Legend. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 8, 2023, from
“Discursive Essay on How Ned Kelly Became an Australian Legend.” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2022,
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