Hero. Victim. Villain. These are the three words used to portray Ned Kelly. Many people would see him as a cruel police murderer or maybe a heroic civilian who stood up for peoples rights. Yet the things that Ned did, didnt identify him as a villain or a hero. He was a victim, who was treated poorly by everyone around him. For Ned, the difficulty of living was trying not to be called a thief for crimes he didnt commit or try not to end up in jail whilst trying to feed his family
Ned was born in 1854 Beveridge, Victoria (The Ned Kelly Gang, n.
d.). His father was an Irish convict that was sent to Van Diemens Land for stealing two pigs. His mother, Ellen Quinn Kelly, was also Irish. Once again when the family settled in Victoria, Neds father, Red Kelly, stole another two pigs so he could feed his family.
The police, didnt care and sent him to prison. When he got out of jail he was weak and exhausted. A couple of weeks later he died (Krol, 2017). To help the family Ned decided to drop out of school and help the family since he was the oldest boy (Lewis, 2003).
Racism to the Irish at the time was very severe. Many rich land squatters wouldnt give them any land, it was hard for them to find a job and they were accused by the police for crimes they didnt do.
When Ned stopped stealing for the family and got a job, many people still accused him and his family for the thefts in the area (Wilkinson, 2002). The police didnt have any evidence to prove that he actually stole, but arrested him for no reason ..(). The public detested Ned Kelly and Irish families as people applied racism into their lives, not humanity.
People at the time ignored Ned Kellys statements and letters and only thought of him as a treacherous murderer. No one thought about how much Ned had been through and how much he suffered to keep his family alive. Ned wanted to publish the Jerilderie and the Cameron letter to show the public what he was going through and why he was doing what he did (Ned Kelly, 2017). The people were being ignorant and did not want to hear the true story of Neds life.
Many people also considered Ned as a callous police murderer. He had killed three policemen, without any hesitation. The policemen were just trying to bring Ned to court and find out if he was guilty or not, although there was some evidence that they were going to kill him as they had body sacks with them (Lewis, 2003).The death of the three policemen caused two women to be widowed and nine children to be fatherless (Wilkinson, 2002, pp. 49-52). The incident led the society to believe that Ned was a murderer. Ned and the gang were being hunted down by the police and Ned had no other choice but to kill them as he needed to protect himself and the rest of the gang (Wilkinson, 2002, pp. 49-50). As the oldest male child in the family he had the responsibility to keep them safe. He was trying to save his mother who had already been put to jail for self-defending and he only intended to get her out (Wilkinson, 2002, pp. 31,36).Ned may have killed the policemen but he had his reasons to do so.
Ned Kelly suffered a lot during his life time. Dealing with taking care of the family and trying not to be accused of stealing was hard for a young person. Because of the severe racism towards the Irish, he became a product of villainy. The society didnt give Ned a chance to prove himself and he was targeted as a villain.