Discuss how Nowra’s perspective on personal relationships is conveyed in Cosi. The play Cosi by Louis Nowra is an emotional portrayal of personal relationships in a Melbourne mental institution ostracised by society. Throughout the play Nowra’s perspective on personal relationships develops and changes through character relationships and development, especially the development of the main protagonist Lewis. Nowra conveys his perspective on personal relationships through themes such as the importance of love and fidelity, the empowerment of women and learning and self-development. Techniques such as symbolism, intertextuality and contrast are also used to further highlight Nowra’s perspective.
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Nowra’s perspective on personal relationships is primarily shown through the character Lewis and his personal relationships with other characters in the play, especially in his relationship with his girlfriend Lucy. Act Two, Scene Two which features a confrontation between Lewis and Lucy on their relationship is significant in showing this. In this scene, Lucy comes to pick Lewis up to take him to the moratorium meeting and Lewis must decide between staying for the play and going with Lucy. Nowra’s belief on the importance of the existence of love and fidelity in a relationship is shown when Lewis says to Lucy “It’s about important things like love and fidelity”. Intertextuality is used here through Lewis’ character development and change of values that is evident in this line. This change occurred through his participation in the production of Cosi Fan Tutte with the patients and his exposure to the themes in the play.
The women in both Cosi Fan Tutte and Cosi are often compared with the Arabian Phoenix which acts a symbol for a woman’s constancy or fidelity. “A woman’s constancy is like the Arabian Phoenix. Everyone swears it exists, but no one has seen it.” This is quoted by Lewis to Lucy to further convey Nowra’s belief in the importance of love and fidelity in a relationship. As Cosi was written in a time where a huge social change was occurring and women were beginning to have more sexual freedom with the invention he birth control pill, a lot of aspects of the play focus on the empowerment of women and the double standards that exist between and women in society especially when it comes to fidelity.
This is shown in Nowra’s contrast of Act Two, Scene One and Act Two, Scene, Two. In Scene One, Lewis is unfaithful as he kisses Julie but in Act Two he reprimands Lucy for sleeping with Nick failing to mention his own infidelities. Intertextuality is used in this scene when Lewis claims that a woman’s constancy is like the Arabian Phoenix, revealing his hypocrisy.
Through Lewis’ condemnation, Nowra demonstrates that, although modern society has become more sexually lenient, there are still double standards that occur which condone men’s fidelity but condemn women’s fidelity. It is revealed that Nowra believes that men and women should be equal not only in relationships but in society too. Julie articulates the message at the beginning of the play when she says that men “want women to deceive them because it will prove their worst thoughts about women” which in contrast is confirmed by Lewis’ attitude towards Lucy’s infidelities.