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Compare and contrast the ways in which the writers of The Tempest and Translations have dramatically presented the links between language and power

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Introduction

A2 English Literature Holiday Homework Assignment: for Mr Majewski: The Tempest by William Shakespeare and Translations by Brian Friel "Compare and contrast the ways in which the writers of The Tempest and Translations have dramatically presented the links between language and power." The modern linguist Norman Fairclough said, "Language is power", implying that if you want to control a person or people, an event or series of events, or indeed the entire world, and have power over it or them, you must first control language. Controlling language is the key to both the initial act of gaining power, and then maintaining that power. We find examples of this throughout The Tempest and Translations, which share common themes and elements. To tackle a question which requires suggesting how the writers link language and power, it is necessary to look at the plays in just such a thematic way. The first and most obvious area in The Tempest where language is linked with power is the way in which prose and verse is used by different characters to different effect. Most notably, and especially for it's irony, Caliban's use of verse when Stephano and Trinculo talk in prose reverts the old ideas of rank, whereby people of higher status, (here supposedly the King's butler and the jester) spoke in verse, and lower classes (the uncivilised Caliban) spoke in prose. Style shift refers to a method of speaking where a person changes their accent or mode of speech depending on whom they are speaking to and how they wish to be perceived by that other person. Consider: STEPHANO Mooncalf, speak once in thy life, if thou beest a good mooncalf. CALIBAN How does thy honour? Let me lick thy shoe. I'll not serve him; he is not valiant. TRINCULO Thou liest, most ignorant monster! I am in case to justle a constable... This may well be a statement by Shakespeare that Caliban is not as sa(l)vage as he seems, and indeed, there are other indicators of ...read more.

Middle

It is our response to mud cabins and a diet of potatoes; our only method of replying to... inevitabilities." (Both II.1.) Friel is not original in his ideas however. Irish novelist James Joyce presents similar ideas to Hugh in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), where the main character, Stephen Dedalus, thinks about how English has replaced Irish in Ireland, but of how the Irish people and writers have learned to master it. Many other Irish literati have taken this theme also - in fact, Nobel prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney wrote a poem where he meets the ghost of James Joyce who advises him on art and language (Station Island part XII, pub. Faber & Faber, 1984). Clearly then, language for the Irish is a national preoccupation; and it is these cultural-linguistic aspects of language that involve Hugh. The sense he speaks gives him the authority power to be listened to and respected by Yolland, even if he is not completely understood. This is quite an evident link between language and power for Friel, and for us. Eventually, everybody but Lancey realises that by changing the place names from English to Irish - and we have already shown how names are so important, because of their meanings - they are losing their identities and histories. Yolland insists on 'Tobair Vree' retaining its name, even though - indeed, because - Owen still knows the story behind it and how it got its name. Following on from the power afforded language through speeches, power is also afforded the speaker through language when they use persuasive discourse. The clearest example of this is the difference between Ariel and Caliban in The Tempest. These two characters share the common interest of their freedom but go about trying to get it in different ways. Most notably, Ariel is sycophantic to Prospero, trying to win his freedom by using subtly persuasive language. ...read more.

Conclusion

And finally, there is a potential for miscommunication in changing the place names so that they loose their meaning. In The Tempest meanwhile, there is miscommunication in the comical scene in III.2 when an invisible Ariel enters and causes havoc for poor Trinculo who is accused of reproaching Caliban for lying when really it is not him at all! " Enter Ariel, invisible CALIBAN As I told thee before, I am subject to a tyrant, a sorcerer, that by his cunning hath cheated me of the island. ARIEL Thou liest. CALIBAN (to Trinculo) Thou liest, thou jesting monkey, thou I would my valiant master would destroy thee! I do not lie. STEPHANO Trinculo, if you trouble him anymore in's tale, by this hand, I will supplant some of your teeth. TRINCULO Why, I said nothing." (III.3.41-50) This is particularly good for a demonstration of language and power because this misunderstanding, though disguised because of humour, shows how violent Stephano can get towards one of his best friends, threatening first to hang him from the next tree (l.36), then later to knock out his teeth (using, appropriately, the word 'supplant', like he wished to overtake the island), and then, later still, threatens to cut him open (l.70) and then he actually hits him (l.77). There are many ways in which the writers of The Tempest and Translations have dramatically presented the links between language and power; through use of prose and verse by different characters, through education and colonisation, through use of names and renaming, through speeches and rhetoric, through persuasive language and through love scenes, through translation and through the six different forms of language. All these just begin to show the varied and skilled ways in which William Shakespeare and Brian Friel, in their own ages and in their different plays, share common elements and themes which make their works comparable in just such a thematic way. 5 926 words (oops sorry I got a bit carried away!) ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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