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Ned Kelly: Hero or Horrible Villain

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In Australian bushranger history, Ned Kelly was the one everyone either feared or loved. Ned, a controversial character with many flaws, is a villain. A bushranger’s apprentice, more than two jail sentences, and being the instigator at the Stringybark Creek incident (where three people were murdered) is proof of this man’s evil.

Ned Kelly chose to start his notorious career as a bushranger’s apprentice. Ned liked the idea of robbing on the highways, knowing it was wrong. “They didn’t earn a fortune, but ten pound here, a gold watch there, and the occasional good quality horse saddle made it worth their while, especially Ned’s”. Ned was very happy with his share of the gain, only stopping his job because of the rough weather and bad sleeping conditions, not because of a guilty conscience. This shows Ned’ character of caring less for his victims than for his own comfort. Being a bushrangers apprentice can only be bad, and this just shows how Ned started his villainous career.

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If only Ned Kelly was taught to use his words, and not resort to violence. When Ned was found riding towards Greta, Constable Hall had the chance to arrest Kelly. Hall called Ned over and grabbed his jacket, so he couldn’t run away. Ned didn’t know that he was on a stolen horse and could have verbally questioned his arrest. However, he attacked Hall in a vicious and horrific manner, cementing his evil, villainous personality. From the Jerilderie Letters, he proudly wrote: “I kept throwing him in the dust now and again as he was as helpless… I did this until I got him across the street. I threw big, cowardly Hall on his belly, straddled him and rooted both spurs into his thighs…”. Ned didn’t have to fight Constable Hall. If Ned had cooperated, then no-one would have gotten hurt. Ned assaulted many people, whether innocent or not, completely unprovoked, when communication would have been better. Thus, he is not a hero, nor a victim, but a horrible villain.

The Kelly Gang killed three men for no reason, even chasing one into the bush to kill him. Ned needed a plan to rob the policemen at Stringybark Creek, not just strut into their camp, literally guns a blazing. The gang needed weapons, ammunition and horses. “There were two policemen at the camp, one was cooking dinner, the other was tending the horses. The Kelly gang stepped out of hiding and told the policemen to ‘bail up’. McIntyre surrendered, though Lonigan dived for cover behind a log, reaching for his revolver. Ned fired, Lonigan was shot”. If the gang had planned their attack, possibly they would have gotten the items needed without death. Ned was offended that Lonigan had reached for his gun in defence, even though Ned himself was armed and dangerous. The gang killed policemen for their weapons, when a planned robbery could’ve saved lives of innocent men.

Ned Kelly, a controversial man who steals, robs and murders. Becoming a bushrangers apprentice as his first job wasn’t enough, so he decided to assault a constable. Plus, he killed three men, and chased one into the bush. These reasons, and many more, show why Ned Kelly is one of the most vicious villains.

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Ned Kelly: Hero or Horrible Villain. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 8, 2023, from
“Ned Kelly: Hero or Horrible Villain.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022,
Ned Kelly: Hero or Horrible Villain. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 8 Dec. 2023].
Ned Kelly: Hero or Horrible Villain [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 25 [cited 2023 Dec 8]. Available from:
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