The way a person behaves is shaped by their identity and the things that are going on around them in society. Different time periods in history have different social circumstances, and these circumstances must be looked at when reading any text. These social factors which influence the text must be looked at in relation to the time they were written and how they relate to the present and today's social framework. This is known as the context. .
The play Cosi, by Louis Nowra, was written in a time when Australia was greatly divided and split into two opposing sides. This was during the 1970's when the Vietnam War took place in which Australia was heavily involved. The play Cosi was written on the basis of this division and it is very evident. This is the context of the play and it affects the way the play was written, which in turn affects and influences the way the characters of the play behave. In Cosi this influence is very great as it is the underlying theme of the entire play, with both opposing sides represented equally although unusually.
The major component of conflict, which creates this opposition, is the war in general and its necessity. With one side the modern day radicals. These are the left wing students who greatly oppose the war but rather than the old theory of love and peace they believe in human equality and saving the suffering. The other side is the establishmentThese are the upper class aristocrats and bloodthirsty corporations, for example the government, who support the war as long as there is some underlying benefit for them to receive. There are also a few other smaller conflicts which hold less importance than the war such as love and fidelity.
There is another component of context which affects the way the other characters of the play behave. These being the mental patients. The mental patients have been locked away, free from the ideals and behaviour of the Australian society.