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Jordan challenges the opinion that Adam Lindsay Gordon was essentially an English poet, arguing that Gordon's poetry deserves more attention because of its influence and popularity in the nineteenth century. Jordan shows that Gordon was well received and his poetry considered very Australian by nineteenth century critics. This, Jordan argues, demonstrates the need to reassess the modern opinion of Gordon's poetry and revisit his poetry in its original context.
Lawson demonstrates how Mary Mahony is a foil for the actions of her husband until her character is foregrounded at the end of the trilogy. This reversal marks the end of Richard's "life" and the beginning of Mary's, making a negative statement about the institution of marriage.