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Humanity is, at times, shown to be selfish and cruel in Cosi, though

these traits are not inherent.
Several characters in Louis Nowra’s play, Cosi, a farcical exposé on the staging
of a Mozart opera in an insane asylum, exhibit either narcissistic or mercenary
qualities, though the world of Cosi depicts people as essentially caring. Although
characters such as Nick and Lucy are motivated by idealistic ambition, their
passion for causes paradoxically leads them to hurt those closest to them. Many
of Nowra’s other characters are motivated by glory but their seemingly selfish
behaviour has beneficial consequences to those around them. Overall, it is
Nowra’s portrayal of Lewis, whose personal growth through the play exemplifies
the sympathetic nature of humanity, which suggests the ability to care for
others, and to valiantly defend worthwhile causes is an indispensable human

In Cosi, the characters who seek to fulfil idealistic ambitions, such as ending
poverty or opposing the Vietnam War, also – ironically and hypocritically – exhibit
callous indifference to the suffering of those closest to them. Thus Nick and Lucy
believe fervently in ‘free love’ and saving the world from oppressive
governments. Lucy’s claim that ‘love is an emotional indulgence’ is a reflection of
her view that ending the Vietnam war or that ‘bread’, ‘shelter’ and ‘equality’ are
more important than staging an opera she derides as, ‘reactionary drivel’. Her
views, and hypocrisy, shared by Nick are seemingly driven by compassion but
blind her to the needs of those around her. Her affair with Nick destroys Lewis’s
hopes of marriage with Lucy, and their dismissal of Lewis’s project in directing
‘Cosi Fan Tutte’ downplays the positive role he plays, improving the lives of the
patients. Nick’s behaviour towards the patients is demeaning and belittling,
exposing the hypocrisy of his standards and values. They use the pretext of a
belief in ‘free love’ as an excuse for a tawdry affair; their justification for this
treacherous act (‘it’s only a fling. It doesn’t mean anything’) seems shallow, and
the juxtaposition of Lewis’s retort: ‘women’s fidelity is like the Arabian phoenix’–
emphasises the manner in which traditional values are upheld in contrast to the
values that form the context of the play. Nowra’s portrayal of Nick and Lucy
suggests these characters are products of a social context that purports to care
but in dismissing love, their actions are proved to be based on self interest.

Nowra’s characters can be self-centred at times but in many cases their suffering
causes them to treat others disdainfully. Roy’s manner is scathing but he means
well; he resolutely follows his inner vision, and the outcome – the staging of the
Mozart opera Cosi Fan Tutte by a cast of mentally ill – enriches the lives of all
cast members. When he exalts Mozart’s music as the ‘harmony of the spheres’
and reflects that without Mozart life would be ‘bedlam’, one senses the depth of
his feeling for music as an escape from the tedium and horror of his existence.
He is characterised as egocentric and often indifferent to the feelings of others,
but Nowra portrays Roy with pathos and humour. In the scene where he reveals

Cosi. Though initially he tacitly supports free love. His acerbic nature. reflected by comments such as ‘why am I always let down!’ and ‘couldn’t direct traffic down a one way street’ are an outpouring of this sadness and not motivated by greed or cruelty. he is in nowise attracted by her advances but he willingly accepts her sandwiches and kisses her at the end to mollify her and save her from violently attacking Julie. Initially portrayed as lacking assertiveness.the dreams of his childhood: ‘music of the spheres. and those who adhere to conservative. His sarcastic use of the quote from the opera – “women’s fidelity is like the Arabian phoenix” – reveals the failings of the contemporary attitude to love. a world ‘as far removed from the asylum as possible’ he is portrayed as romantic and a dreamer. exemplifying his commitment to the project they are working on. colourful costumes. Nowra’s depiction of Lewis is an embodiment of moderation. his expectation of Lucy to be faithful to him and subsequent horror at her betrayal reveal an expectation of fidelity in marriage. As the play develops and it becomes apparent this vision of childhood is a figment of his vivid imagination. Lewis’s progression throughout the play. suggests people can be caring and can expect consideration from others. it is Lewis’ actions. Nowra’s play. Whilst many of the characters’ attempts to be altruistic are in effect hypocritical and self serving. By the play’s denouement. we are left with a profound empathy towards the character’s plight. This is his predominant obsession and the reader of Nowra’s script is left with a sense that Roy’s behaviour is driven by his passion for excellence in the arts and the fantasy he has constructed of his own life. to paint a portrait of life in a mental institution. based on altruistic concern and genuine empathy for others that suggest that human beings are often motivated by selfless desires. uses farce. Without the high-flown romantic temperament of Roy or the conservatism of Henry. traditional notions of love and society. Roy is a shattered man and his exuberance and creativity a miraculous response to the hardship he has endured. an idealised world of beauty and music. both in terms of developing confidence in directing and a rejection of contemporary values. enduring temperament. He even chooses ‘Cosi’ over a moratorium. Lewis eschews the values Nick and Lucy represent. Even his care for Cherry. Likewise his concern for the members of the cast is evident when he won’t allow Nick to call the patients ‘loonies’. joi de vivre’. Hence. commitment is something to be valued . thus diffusing a difficult situation. but reflect the lack of restraint characterised by other ‘inmates’ of the asylum. it is Nowra’s presentation of Lewis to suggest cruelty is not inherent to people. but also pathos. Lewis realises that fidelity is important. reflects his patient. The world of Cosi is populated with people who have suffered yet who care for one another. which eventually creates therapeutic benefit to the patients. he values ‘the music of the spheres’. whose obvious attempts at flirtation are overwhelming. a balance between those who value free love and socialism.

wordpress. it is the play’s climax. music.vcestudyguides. Cosi essay . art are valued – in . 11 Tuesday Oct 2011. Despite the play’s dour Resource: http://www.and working with the societies’ refuse close to home is more crucial than causes abroad. Posted by paulmdonovan in Uncategorized http://paulmdonovan. wherein the patients stage Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte that the ‘cast’ creates a world where beauty. an optimistic world.