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Translations(Brian Friel)Is Best Read As An Elegy For A Doomed Culture. The Only Response It Elicits Is To Mourn That Culture Depicted In The Play As Forever Lost. Do You Agree?

1623 words - 6 pages

Translations although addressing a quite distant past evokes many different and emotional reactions because of the text's relevance to the issues of a much closer past and the situation in Northern Ireland even today. The play takes on a large responsibility by addressing a past which is held so close to people's hearts. The tension that this causes within in play evokes a variety of different responses.The play makes use of historical landmarks to engage the audience giving them a place in history to relate to. They are also used for dramatic irony, Maire remarks 'Sweet God did the potatoes ever fail in Baile Beg? ' She talks about how people sniff around for disaster waiting for the potato crop to fail. The audience knows the play is only set a few years prior to the potato famine. This thought is with us all the way through the play. It adds a sense of futility to their lives and their actions because whatever attempts are made to save this culture or the Gaelic language inevitably the potato famine among other things, will take everything away from them.The actors are representing people in a world that we can never actually know. It is an exaggerated, optimistic view of the past. The text is reluctant to accept the decline of Gaelic. The fact that the play is written and performed in English and that there is more Latin and Greek in the play than Gaelic emphasizes the fact that without the change in culture, the decline of Gaelic and eventually the progression of Ireland, Irish writing and writers would not have been known. The play is more sentimental that realistic, what the play is mourning is actually responsible for its existence.This sentimentalism evokes two reactions, the first is mourning, this is a time lost, this is also a time that can never be regained. The inability to ever regain this culture is accentuated by the fact that the text cannot even faithfully represent it because of language barriers. This does make the audience nostalgic for something simplistic and unknown. The other response that it evokes is peculiar because it is exactly the opposite. It makes us realise that letting go of the past is sometimes necessary. Maire represents this in the play, she wants to learn English, she wants to leave Baile Beg. She says about learning English ' "The old language is a barrier to modern progress," He (Daniel O'Connell) said that last month... I don't want Greek I don't want Latin. I want English,'(p25) in this one simple and quite childish statement Maire becomes one of the main representatives for progression in the play.The play as a whole reduces the past to a hopeful story.There are large spaces where history is ignored and only the parts of history which are relevant to the ideas in the text are used. Maybe this is where the parts of our cultures that are lost belong, in a world where they are idealised and the relevant parts are lifted up when they are needed to help us with today's world. It is not always really...

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