Comparative critical essay on The Fortunes of Richard Mahony by Henry Handel Richardson, and Voss by Patrick White.
Remember to back up all your arguments with close textual references, including references to specific events, conversations and passages.
Write on ONE of the following topics:
1. Illustrate and compare the relative value accorded to the spiritual and practical dimensions of human life in The Fortunes of Richard Mahony and Voss.
2. Compare Richardson’s and White’s treatment of the idea of the family in their two novels.
3. Compare and contrast the relationship between Richard and Mary with the relationship between Voss and Laura. Try to address large topics in your answer, such as sex, spirituality, romance, the relative compatibility of the two male-female partnerships, and the way each develops and changes over time.
4. Selecting as many or as few passages as you need to illustrate your argument effectively, compare White’s and Richardson’s uses of descriptive language in their novels.
(You can interpret this question with reference to descriptions of the external world, or descriptions of characters, or both. Base your answer on analyses of key passages selected from both novels.)
5. Compare the ways in which the idea of Australia figures in the two novels.
6. The Fortunes of Richard Mahony and Voss both adopt the ancient tradition of the quest narrative. Compare the uses and meanings the two authors attach to this narrative motif.
7. Richardson and White both explore the often vexed and oppositional relationship between the individual and society. Examine the ways in which each author uses the resources of the novel to ‘stage’ this relationship and investigate its implications. Compare the conclusions at which they arrive (or fail to arrive) as to the relative weight to be accorded to the needs of the individual and to the restrictions and demands of society.
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