Weird Melancholy Of Henry Lawson 's ' The Bush Undertaker ' And Peter Weir 's Picnic At Hanging Rock

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Weird Melancholy in Henry Lawson’s ‘The Bush Undertaker’ and Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock
In 1876, in his preface to Adam Lindsay Gordon’s Poems, novelist Marcus Clarke coined the phrase ‘Weird Melancholy’ in reference to what he perceived to be the ‘dominant note’ of his country’s landscape and his subject’s verse. In doing so, he distilled the entire mood of Australian Gothic into one eerie essence, an essence present, to varying extents, in all texts of that genre. This can be seen through an examination of two exemplary Australian Gothic texts, each vastly different from the other in form and content, but united by their pervasive aura of Weirdness and Melancholy: Henry Lawson’s 1894 short story ‘The Bush Undertaker’ and Peter
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After doing this, a ‘great greasy black goanna’ (29) causes the hatter the stumble upon the corpse of his friend, Brummy. In describing the reptile, alliteration serves as emphasis, while the word ‘black’ connotes the native Australian whose bones have been disinterred by the protagonist. As he goes about burying Brummy, the goanna, always accompanied by the epithet ‘black’, reappears continually. The man’s repeated sightings of the creature link it to something sinister, until it becomes a symbolic force of justice, frighteningly rebuking the hatter for his profanity of a sacred site (Lee). The goanna is a metaphor for a divine power, supernatural, fatalistic, and truly Weird.
The idea that human activity is governed by a higher power, resulting in a lack of personal agency, is also explored in Picnic at Hanging Rock. Even before they arrive at their picnic spot, the convoy from Appleyard College seem to be greatly affected by Hanging Rock. Mathematics mistress Miss McCraw seems mesmerised by the monolith, speaking quietly and ‘almost nostalgically’ (Green 11) about its creation:
Silicious lava, forced up from deep down below. Soda trachytes extruded in a highly viscous state, building the steep-sides mametons we see in Hanging Rock. And quite young, geologically speaking. Barely a millions years old. (Greene, 11)
Vivean Gray’s delivery of these lines as though enchanted demonstrates the power of the rock over the picnickers. Further, her

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