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Translations Depicts The Cultural Take Over Of Ireland By The British

1015 words - 4 pages

Translations depicts the cultural take over of Ireland by the British
Empire, yet it cannot be said to be simply pro-Irish.’ Consider this

English Literature Coursework- ‘Translations depicts the cultural take
over of Ireland by the British Empire, yet it cannot be said to be
simply pro-Irish.’ Consider this comment on the play.

The Cultural take over of Ireland by the British Empire is a central
issue in Translations. Friel examines this issue by describing the
effects that certain changes have on individual characters; Irish and
English. One may think a play with this issue could not help being
biased towards the Irish. However, Friel ‘did not wish to write a
play about Irish peasants being suppressed by English sappers.’ In
order to ascertain whether he achieves this, we should look to his
often complex characters and how they develop throughout the play.
and so we must look at individual characters, as Friel does, to see
whether this play is pro-Irish or not.

Let us take Hugh O’Donnell as the first example. Hugh is portrayed as
an intellectual character. He has a wide knowledge of languages and
uses a sophisticated choice of words. For instance, when he
describes the Irish language he explains that certain other cultures
‘expend on their vocabularies and syntax acquisitive energies and
ostentations.’ This is definitely a positive characteristic and can be
contrasted to Lancey and Yolland’s ignorance. This can be seen when
Lancey misunderstands the Latin statement ‘nonne Latine loquitur’ and
tells Jimmy ‘I do not speak Gaelic sir’, making it obvious that he
does not speak Latin either. However, when Hugh ‘pours himself another
drink’ and his alcohol addiction is apparent the stereotypical ‘drunken
Irishman’ is seen as a pessimistic view of the Irish culture. On the
other hand, Hugh may only be using alcohol as a means to escape his
awareness of the change that surrounds him which is enforced by the
English soldiers. Hugh refuses to translate the word ‘always’ for
Maire showing that he is very aware of the change that surrounds the
Irish, believing that it is a ‘silly word’ under the inconstant
circumstances. Therefore his drunken weakness can be seen as a result
of the English colonisation and is pro-Irish.

The character of Manus is rather more complicated than that of Hugh
and our perception of him changes as the play develops. During the
play Manus refuses to apply for a job at the international school his
father applied for because he felt that he ‘couldn’t go up against
him’. This enforces Manus’ loyalty towards his father and perhaps is
an indication of Irish faithfulness compared to English disloyalty;
disloyalty which is seen when Yolland explains that his father got him
a job but he ‘missed the boat’ and, not being able to return home and
face him, joined the army. Yolland also shows disloyalty to his own
country and language when he decides that ‘there is no English

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