From existential duality towards global colonization. Gillian Armstrongs “Oscar and Lucinda”

Literature Review, 2015

5 Pages, Grade: A


The film Oscar and Lucinda, directed by the Australian Gillian Armstrong, is a cinematographic adaptation of the same named novel, by the Australian Peter Carey and written in 1988. The story, narrated by one of the main character’s descendant, begins in South New Gales in 1848 and develops during post-colonialism of the Old British Empire in Australia which took place during the second half of the 19th century. It is a story of confronted religious confessions, love, game, adventure and colonization. All this crimped from the meeting and experiences of an Anglican priest and a rich heiress, to whom passion and love will link altogether.

The aim of this essay will be that of developing all the themes which underlie under the plot, by taking the two main characters as referents. Among these topics, we distinguish: struggles and religious ideologies, colonization, gambling, love passion, determinism and divine will, fight towards freedom and female rights. All this under the same prism of the Victorian Period in England.

The plot begins with the duality between two strange characters to whom we progressively meet separately: Oscar Hopkins, a weird boy who joins to the Anglican Church, betraying his father who was Pastor of the strict "The Plymouth Brothers", and Lucinda Leplastier, a rich and clear-headed heiress. These two worlds, which could perfectly represent the clash between strong religious convictions and feminist grievances, will clash for something which was threatening them with destruction: bets and gambling. A same hobby they shared but with so different intentions.

From the very first moment, we get to know the religious diversification in congregations, churches and beliefs by means of Oscar. That is how we get to the year 1856 when Oscar’s father denies celebrating Christmas. He is influenced by the strong beliefs of the Plymouth Brothers (a group of Christians from the 16th century reform who tried to get back to the origins of Christianism) [1]. Theophilus, etymologically "who loves God", was a dissenter, a Protestant who kept himself faithful to the necessity of purifying the Roman Church because of having transgressed the gospel with activities such as the celebration of traditional festivities. That is why, when the servants offer Oscar the Christmas pudding, his father refuses by answering that "the pudding was the fruit of Satan"[2]. Oscar’s father was a Conservative Evangelic Christian who considered that the English Church had transgressed many of the Christian traditions. Nonetheless, he was not a Roman Catholic, since he says (and in that he agrees with Anglicans) that they would never accept the Pope’s authority, whom others grant in the Mass.

The separation of the father and the Anglican Church was useless for Oscar who, victim of destiny and divine designs was to choose Anglicanism, even though he had to renounce to his own family for that. He made a kind of stone board in which he was to speak with God and helped to choose one religious group among the ones he knew: "Brothers", "Baptistes", "Catholics" and "Anglicans".


[1] It was in the 16th century that Martin Luther got surprised because of the abandonment of the Primitive Christianity. His vigorous protest led to the Protestant Reform.
[2] Carey, P. (1988:12 )

Excerpt out of 5 pages


From existential duality towards global colonization. Gillian Armstrongs “Oscar and Lucinda”
University of Jaén
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Oscar and Lucinda, Gillian Armstrong, colonization, victorian age, post-colonialism
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Grado en Estudios Ingleses Ana María Leiva Aguilera (Author), 2015, From existential duality towards global colonization. Gillian Armstrongs “Oscar and Lucinda”, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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