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"Drama shows us that those who control language dictate the events of the play" Compare and contrast your chosen texts in the light of this opinion.

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Introduction

Saturday, 17 May 2003 Jad Salfiti A2 English Literature "Drama shows us that those who control language dictate the events of the play" Compare and contrast your chosen texts in the light of this opinion. 'The Tempest' written by William Shakespeare and 'Translations' written by Brian Friel both look at how those who control language can dictate events. Despite the disparity of context, both plays share many core themes and explore the importance of language and how it can be used as a means of control. Both plays show linguistic hegemony, and demonstrate how one language can take dominance and displace another and how language can be stigmatised, so that it becomes dirtied and debased. In 'The Tempest', Caliban's original language is belittled to "gabble" and "babble" by a Eurocentric Miranda. While in 'Translations' Lancey's snobbish attitude to the townspeople and his use of circumlocutory beaurocratic jargon exposes his personal discomfort at being with "foreign civilians". Prospero is in control of language within the Tempest, he is the most educated and he also has magical powers. Throughout the play Prospero uses language to coerce characters to do what he wants; his linguistic and magical authority is used to dictate the events of the play. Prospero foregrounds the plays fictionality "my charm the magicalism of art", and he becomes almost a scriptwriter within the play by drawing attention to the illusory nature of art. ...read more.

Middle

Prospero promotes himself from a coloniser to a liberator and uses linguistic power to convince Ariel. From a dramatic point of view Prospero's understanding of language convinces Ariel to remain loyal. 'Translations' also shows how blurred the line is between coloniser and liberator. 'Translations' is set in the 19th century, however it is very much to do with the situation in Ireland in recent times, throughout the 1980s there were violent clashes between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, British intervention was viewed as liberation by the Northern Irish but as Colonisation by the Republic of Ireland. From a modern perspective, it can be compared with the response to the Iraqi Crisis by the British public, the West has come under allot of criticism with regard to its true intentions for invading Iraq. Friel's characterisation of Hugh and Manus' personal relationship can be seen as parallel to the English and Irish' political relationship, Manus' exploitation by Hugh reflects the political exploitation of the Irish by the English. Like the British, Hugh can be viewed as an autocratic and tyrannous. In addition Hugh also uses language to control events. Hugh is negligent teacher, he refuses to teach Maire to speak English when she asks, he simply ignores her "We have been diverted- diverto...". Hugh allows his personal feelings towards the English obstruct his students from fulfilling their potential, he prefers to teach them the classical languages of Latin and Greek which Maire informs him is a "barrier to modern progress". ...read more.

Conclusion

In 'Translations', the English colonisers also use language as a device control the Irish. The introduction of free education of the English national schools shows the tactics employed by the English to transform Ireland from a predominantly Gaelic-speaking nation to an English-speaking nation. Education and language are used so that Irish history and culture would be written in English, and fundamentally 'shaped' by the British. At the end of the 'The Tempest' Prospero breaks the suspension of disbelief "Our revels now are ended" he draws attention to the fictional status of the play. Prospero renounces his power, "now my charms are all o'erthrown". It can be said that Prospero's loss of power empowers the audience, we see a social role reversal and the subversion of social hierarchy, this is a convention of a comedy, it is now Prospero who is "confined", indicated by the use of a second person plural, and this confuses the equilibrium. From a narrative point of view the audience as a magician emerges "by your spell", this completes the role reversal. In the end it is the audience who dictate the events of the play "with the help of your good hands". The fact that 'Translations' expresses Irish characters in the English language shows that translation of some kind is possible, from a modern perspective we see that a hybrid in the used of Hiberno-English this confirms Hugh's view "We must learn to make them our own". ...read more.

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