The distinctively visual elements within texts contain narrative and thematic function as they contextualise and delineate the setting and characters within the texts, encapsulating the thematic richness of the experience and attitudes portrayed in the text. Lawson’s “The Drover’s Wife” presents the isolation, monotony and danger of the Australian bush experience for women. “In a Dry Season” depicts the social degradation that arises as a result of the harsh Australian landscape. Brett Hoffman’s 2007 documentary Chicago 10, uses the distinctively visual elements of cartoon and documentary to expose the entrenched corruption of the American judicial system of the 1960s.
In “The Drover’s Wife,” Lawson uses negative anaphoric imagery, “no horizon… no ranges… no undergrowth,” to create a sense of isolation and monotony within the Australian bush. The sibilant rhyme within the dreary imagery of crude construction – “timber slabs, stringy bark, and floored with split slabs,” underscores the soul-destroying conditions that define the bush experience of the wife. Lawson uses the ghoulish imagery, “only last week a gallows-faced swagman – having satisfied himself that there were no men on the place” to draw attention to the sinister, devious intentions of the man, presenting how the Australian bush experience is fraught with danger and threat as isolated women are vulnerable to men who would exploit their isolation. Paradoxically, the strength of the wife is revealed when confronted by the harsh environment as “thunderstorms come on, and the wind… threatens to blow out her candle,” as the fragile flame symbolises her sanity and hope against the forces of the bush. The contrasting imagery of the thunder and flame portrays the overwhelming sense of loneliness and psychologically withering impact which is further illustrated in the biblical allusion to the Garden of Eden – “everlasting sameness of stunted, rotten native apple trees,” perhaps also suggesting that God has forsaken the bush woman and left her to fend for herself. Lawson ultimately portrays the Australian bush experience as one of isolation, monotony and danger which can have detrimental impacts on the human condition.