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An Analysis Of "The Jerilderie Letter", To Determine Whether Ned Kelly Is A Hero Or A Villain. Liam Butler

796 words - 4 pages

The Jerilderie letter would be almost completely obsolete for an historian attempting to assess whether Ned Kelly was a hero or a villain. An historian should look at society's response to Ned Kelly when searching for such information as the belief that someone is a hero or a villain is completely subjective, and the closest anyone can come to an answer is to reach a consensus. The Jerilderie letter can at most, give us information about Ned Kelly's life, though whether that information is reliable or not is yet to be seen.The Jerilderie letter was dictated by Ned Kelly and written down by one of his associates, Joe Byrne, sometime in 1879 CE. It was aimed it towards multiple audiences and this could have greatly affected Kelly's motives in writing the letter. Kelly wrote to the authorities of the time, trying to prove his claim of innocence. He also wrote to the people of Victoria, hoping that they also would view his actions as just....the public could not do ...view middle of the document...

Ned Kelly wrote the Jerilderie letter in the vain hope of justifying his actions. He hoped that in writing his letter, he could clear his name, as well as the names of his associates and relatives, of the crimes they had been charged with. "The Jerilderie letter" was written with the intent that it would be published by the local newspaper's editor. However this goal wasn't achieved, as the newspaper editor managed to escape. Ned Kelly's purpose may also be to have history view him in a certain way, as he wanted his actions to be perceived as moral and just.I would shoot no man if he gave up his arms and leave the force he said the police all knew Fitzpatrick had wronged us.Kelly evidently thought that what he was doing could be justified according to his moral code. He also had the aim of gaining support from "the people", condemning those that helped the police hunt him.The Jerilderie letter is heavily biased towards Ned Kelly, as well as Ned Kelly's associates and relatives. It holds much disdain for the lawful authorities of the time. Ned Kelly, in an attempt to justify his actions, would be as sympathetic to his own cause as is possible, possibly to the extent of fabricating events to serve his purpose. Considering that Ned Kelly wrote with his own safety in mind, his account would be incredibly biased and as such should not be relied upon to give factual, objective information, let alone information of a subjective nature. Taking into account the fact that there are limited sources that describe the shootings at Stringy bark Creek, the Jerilderie letter should be cross referenced with what sources there are, and as much factual evidence as possible be drawn from doing this.But leaving to one side the factual information that can be found in the Jerilderie letter, it cannot help reach any conclusions concerning whether or not he was a "hero" or a "villain". Both of these personas are created by society and are dependent on the individual's view, so searching for an objective answer to something this subjective is fruitless. An historian, when trying to reach these conclusions should look to people's reactions to Ned Kelly. Historians shouldn't analyse his actions, but scrutinise the beliefs about him. A man is only a hero if you choose to imbue him with that honour.

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