Harry Lavender Essay – Draft 1
Composers employ language elements and characteristics in their texts to establish a voice that shapes meaning and influences the audience’s interpretation. This is evident in Marele Day’s “The Life and Crimes of Harry Lavender,” Richard Eyre’s 2010 film “Never Let Me Go,” and Emily Bronte’s novel “Wuthering Heights.” In “The Life and Crimes of Harry Lavender,” the persona Claudia Valentine, created by composer Marele Day, utilizes specific language elements and characteristics to subvert traditional American crime fiction. Claudia’s voice embodies a contemporary genre style with feminine undertones, altering the way the audience perceives the novel. Claudia is portrayed as a solitary, hard-drinking individual, reminiscent of the classic private investigators from the 1940s.
However, there is a subversion of the genre stereotype portrayed through Claudia’s gender and her romance with Steve Angell. Claudia is “drawn magnetically towards” Steve, which possibly hints at a romantic relationship. This subversion is also seen in Claudia’s maternal tones when she expresses fear for her children’s safety, pleading with her ex-husband to “Keep them safe Gary.” These elements and characteristics of Claudia’s language express her femininity, challenging the stereotype of a marginalized, impoverished, and emotionless typical American crime fiction detective. However, Claudia’s personal life is juxtaposed with her tough career as a detective. She must uncover the social, judicial, and political injustices committed by crime boss Harry Lavender. With a tone of revenge, Claudia states “I would get Lavender… for what he’d done to my father… what he was doing to my city.” Alongside her detective work, Claudia also tackles the Mark Bannister murder case.
In order to achieve this, Claudia Valentine connects with Mark Bannister through various means. She interacts with his girlfriend Sally Villios, who uses childlike imagery and oxymorons when inviting Claudia to “come and join the party…Informal formalities were over.” Claudia also involves Bannister’s neighbor Mrs. Levack, who represents the older generation. Mrs. Levack speaks enthusiastically and Claudia compares her to a school girl when she first enters her apartment. Through her use of language and her reactions to doubt, fear, and insecurity, Claudia allows the reader to identify with her as the main character and this creates an impact through her distinct voice.
Harry Lavender is depicted as a formidable crime boss through his voice, characterized by various elements. As he rises in the underworld hierarchy, his power grows, as emphasized by the visual imagery and symbolism in his statements. Lavender proudly states, “In the early days I planned and executed… Now I plan and it is someone else’s finger on the trigger.” His condescending tone further reinforces his arrogance and narcissism, particularly when he comments, “In their world of Bankcards and Sunday lawn mowing they don’t often meet a man like me.”
Lavender’s ability to “slip through the interstices” and have a “finger in every pie” has aided the development of his undercover empire in Sydney. His perspective of the city in the 1980s creates vivid imagery for the audience, as corruption and manipulation have gradually shaped the urban landscape from a time when doors were left open all night for summer breezes. Through Lavender’s unique voice, a strong contextual atmosphere is developed, with a geographical allusion to iconic places such as Bondi Towers at the south end and the wide brown sea of sewers at the north end, highlighting the contrast between socioeconomic classes. Lavender’s distinctive voice also brings awareness to the impacts and advancements in technology, with the regret that he will not live long enough to witness and enjoy the full impacts of the electronic future.
The film “Never Let Me Go” represents Kathy’s unique voice as an omniscient narrator. The movie follows Kathy and Tommy as they mature and develop a close relationship. In a crucial scene, their connection is depicted through the symbolic use of elements. Kathy is positioned in the center of the image, standing out from the contextualized background. She places a hand on Tommy’s back while he expresses anger, conveying compassion and Kathy’s courage to defend what is right. This showcases her caring and inclusive nature. Through the use of a low angle camera shot, there is a subversion of traditional film conventions, with Kathy standing above Tommy. Kathy’s distinct voice is effectively portrayed through acts of kindness and selflessness, evoking sympathy from the audience towards the characters.
In “Wuthering Heights,” the novel diverges from the previous text by incorporating a frame narrative, bringing the reader closer to the events of the story. Within the Gothic genre, the female persona known as “Miss Catherine” possesses a strong authorial voice. Catherine’s emphatic tone, expressed through phrases such as “my great thought in living is himself… he were annihilated, the Universe would turn into a mighty stranger,” is filled with hyperbole. By repetitively exclaiming “I’m Heathcliff,” Catherine’s relationship with Heathcliff exceeds mere desire and evolves into a state of unity. Catherine’s distinct voice evokes pathos and sympathy from the reader, leaving a lasting impact and engaging the audience. When speaking to Nelly, Catherine declares that her love for Heathcliff is akin to the eternal rocks beneath, stating “I am Heathcliff, he’s always on my mind as my own being,” effectively illustrating the depth and power of her affection in a realistic manner. Catherine’s spirit lingers at Wuthering Heights, imploring to be let in, grasping onto the window with tenacity. The persistent presence of Catherine’s voice unsettles Mr Lockwood, who perceives it as that of a ghost attempting to regain entry into the house.