Ideals, Dreams And Reality In Ray Lawler's Summer Of The Seventeenth Doll

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The play, “Summer of the Seventeenth Doll” by Ray Lawler is set in Australia and talks about times in the 1950s. In the play, one sees that, Lawler gives audiences rich insights into the societal structure, code of conduct etc typical of Australian life set in that period of time. The play talks about a group of ordinary people who are struggling to stay young as do not acknowledge the reality that they are aging. In their desperate bid to escape the inevitability of the consequences of change, the characters inflict hurt upon themselves and one another evoking pity and compassion in the audiences. Through the characters Lawler explores issues about Australian masculinity, mateship and the so called social "norms". Lawler sends a message to his audiences through his play about the social problems people faced in their day to day lives and how he sees that there is a need for change. He challenges readers to examine and question the ideals, values and attitudes, which form their own "world" by exposing the limitations of lives based on the pursuit of unrealistic aspirations. This paper discusses the theme of ‘ideals, dreams versus reality’, which shows how each character in the play cherishes a dream and respects an ideal, while in reality, it turns out to be something different and portrays how these expectations are up to the mark or lay shattered at the end.
Keywords: Australia, masculinity, mateship, norms, Ideals, Dreams, Reality, Ray Lawler
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The four main characters in the play are Roo, Barney, Olive and Pearl. Roo and Barney live with two bar maids, Olive and Nancy. The play is set in the seventeenth year of this arrangement. Nancy has married and been replaced by the sceptical Pearl. Olive fights against the change, desperate to maintain her ideal of ‘the
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