Images are a universal language that appeals to a wider audience through techniques that give the pictures meaning. Consequently, an individual is able to perceive the image in their own way depending on their level of knowledge. As a result, the audience is able to interpret both simple and complex ideas within the pictures according to their own understanding. John Marsden and Shaun Tan’s picture book The Rabbits demonstrates the different ways an individual may interpret narratives through techniques such as allegory, anthropomorphism and symbolism.
Through these techniques, simple and complex ideas are communicated, and depending on a person’s knowledge, this reflects different ideas that the person may gather from the pictures in the book. Through the analysis of both visual and literacy techniques, a picture book’s ability to address both simple and complex ideas will be discussed. Images are universal language that appeals to a wider audience through techniques that give the pictures meaning. John Marsden and Shaun Tan’s book The Rabbits, demonstrates this notion throughout the narrative.
Through the use of anthropomorphism, the front cover illustrates a group of rabbits possessing human qualities; wearing clothes, standing upright and carrying objects. Symbolism used on the rabbits represents the idea of them representing the British. The salient image on the cover was the Admiral rabbit, who wears a uniform covered in writing. This symbolism is used to reflect the idea of the intelligence and education the British would’ve possessed. Therefore, images can appeal to a wider audience through techniques that give it meaning.
Many techniques used in picture books reflect simple ideas that would appeal to the younger audience, through salient imagery that is easily recognisable. The cover of the picture book The Rabbits demonstrates this through the illustrations that a younger audience would interpret literally. The cover displays a group of rabbits standing in front of a huge ship. This, according to the younger audience could reflect the idea of the rabbits landing on a new place.
The hyperbole used on the ship, causing it to tower above the rabbits on the shore, may reflect the idea of there being more individuals that have travelled to the land indicating their superior strength. In the collage of images depicting a different scene from a battle between the rabbits and the possums, the simple concept of conflict is portrayed. Through the deliberate juxtaposition of each image the symbolism of weapons allows the younger audiences to perceive that it is a battle.
Furthermore, the rigid body language of each rabbit assembled in a line symbolises their power as a group as opposed to the image of the image of the possums on top. Meanwhile, the vector of the possum’s spears leads the reader’s eyes to an image of a rabbits and a possum each being shot by spears. Meanwhile, the dark liquid coming out of both animals has connotations to blood and therefore suggests the idea of death. Consequently, it is evident that picture books have the ability to reflect simple ideas through its salient imagery allowing younger audiences to understand the purpose of narrative.
Through the use of visual techniques, picture books have the ability to also address complex ideas that an older audience would interpret due to their wider range of knowledge; this is due to the various references the composer makes regarding the historic context behind the story. Through the use of allegory, the idea of colonisation is being portrayed through the illustrations and text. The image of four rusty machines gathering up grass from the land uses many techniques that allow the older audience to understand its purpose.
The use of simulacra allows the machines to appear as a rabbits head, consuming the land. The symbolism of the machine conveys the idea of the rabbits taking everything they want, the land, the crops and animals etc. Another techniques used in image is the juxtaposition and irony between the huge machine and the tiny rabbit who is controlling it. This technique may be interpreted by the older audience as the power and control the rabbits have over the land, crops and the possums. Consequently, the image may be understood as the British taking over the Aboriginals during the Colonisation of Australia.
A salient image of a painting captures the viewer’s attention due to its radiant colours compared to the bleak background. The foreground illustrates a painting being held up by two rabbits, labelled “1 and 2”. This reflects the complex idea of there being a lot of important rabbits being labelled as just a number. The building in the painting aligns with the ones being created in the background creating vectors that lead your eyes to construction of it. Consequently, the huge buildings are held up by weak foundations that convey the idea of the foundation of the British being weak.
On the other hand, this is juxtaposed to the foundation of the possums on the tree; sturdy and strong. This complex idea is able to be understood by the older audience due to their wider range of knowledge and understanding of the references made during the historical time period. Furthermore, an older audience is able to understand complex ideas derived from the salient images the composer has created. Through the analysis of visual and literary techniques, this essay demonstrates both simple and complex ideas that a wide audience can derive from a picture book.
Techniques such a s allegory, anthropomorphism, juxtaposition and symbolism used in John Marsden and Shaun Tan’s book The Rabbits displays the different ways simple and complex ideas are conveyed depending on a specific age group. This essay demonstrate how picture books appeal to a wide audiences through its ability to address simple and complex ideas, therefore, allowing an older or younger audience to perceive the message of the images according to their own understanding. In conclusion, it is through the visual and literary techniques that make picture books a universal language, allowing both simple and complex ideas to be understood.