Ralph Rashleigh: A Convict Dream


If Ralph Rashleigh was written from the inside, by a convict who never won his freedom in 40 years, it was inevitably written with the aim of getting out—at least in literary wish fulfilment. Its main interest lies in the terms found for this self-vindication which underlies the whole novel in implicit, perhaps unconscious, ways. It is not simply a matter of the protagonist's winning of his freedom at the end, but of a gradual appeal to the reader for its acceptance. This aim shapes the picture of convict life, for the wish to be accepted back into society on its own terms modifies and even undercuts the inevitable social protest.

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Published 1 May 1976 in Volume 7 No. 3. Subjects: Colonial literature & writers, Convict literature.

Cite as: Hergenhan, Laurie. ‘Ralph Rashleigh: A Convict Dream.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 7, no. 3, 1976, doi: 10.20314/als.a51ede8ec1.