• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How does Brian Friel establish the theme of language and its effects on communication, power and identity in Act one?

Extracts from this document...


How does Brian Friel establish the theme of language and its effects on communication, power and identity in Act one? In the play Translations, language and its effects is clearly one of the central themes. This is evident because the characters all show what language means to them ranging from Hugh who uses his knowledge of languages as a form of power over the British to Owen who does not show any concern for his language and identity and allows the British to call him Roland. Furthermore the title of the play Translations is ironic because although one of the themes of the play is keeping your identity the book itself looses its identity. This is because although the play is written by an Irish author and set in Ireland, it is written in English. Thus the title foreshadows the outcome of the play. One of the ways Brain Friel establishes the theme of language is by using Sarah as a device to convey the bare minimum of language. Her limited knowledge of language limits her communication. However this could also be a benefit to her as she is able to have secrets without being expected to share them. Sarah is first introduced in the play by the stage directions which say "Sarah shakes her head vigorously and stubbornly" this is because Manus wants her to speak so she has an identity in the world. ...read more.


However although Jimmy shows know signs of wanting to learn English his love of Latin and Greek have caused him to be unable to communicate properly with other characters as they only speak Gaelic. Thus Jimmy portrays what could happen to Ireland if they do not learn English as they will be cut off from the world. Additionally Jimmy's character also uses his knowledge of languages as a power over the British as he mocks captain Lancey for not being able to speak Latin "Nonne Latine loquitur?". Brain Friel also shows that due to Jimmy's reading of Greek stories such as the "Odyssey" he has created an alternative reality for himself in which figures of myth are as real to him as the people he sees everyday. This is revealed as he imagines situations when he would have to choose between Athene, Artimis and Helen. Due to these fantasies Manus calls Jimmy "a bloody dangerous man" suggesting that living in the past is dangerous. Thus foreshadowing that Manus, who does not embrace the English language in his country, may be dangerous as he is still living in the past The characters captain Lancey and Yolland although both working for the British army have very different views on what they have been ordered to do in Ireland. This is apparent by the way that they act when they first meet the Irish people. ...read more.


It's the same me isn't it?". This quote reveals that Owen places know value in his identity. Owen's translation of what Lancey is saying on pages 31/32 also show how Owen uses his ability to communicate with the English as power over the Irish. This is because his mistranslation of what Lancey is saying to the Irish allows Owen to make it seem that the British are in their country to help them, not remove their language. The character Hugh although conveyed as a figure of dignity in Baile Beag is ironically a heavy drinker and is shown little respect by characters such as Daolty as he mocks him behind his back by impersonating the way he acts. Hugh, who is fluent in English, Latin, Greek and Gaelic is very critical of the British language referring to it as a language for traders. Furthermore the distain with which he speaks of Lancey for not knowing any Gaelic, Latin and Irish shows how he uses his knowledge of languages as a weapon against the British as he is able to show his superior intelligence. In conclusion Brain Friel's uses characters, dramatic setting and many other devices to show how language plays a key role in this play. Furthermore his use of characters in the play to convey the bare minimum of language (Sarah) and the height of language (Hugh) add to the effect of how he uses language. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Brian Friel section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Brian Friel essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    By close examination of Act 1, discuss the ways in which Friel explores the ...

    3 star(s)

    little English, and we later learn that this is because she plans to move to America. When she announces this to Manus, he becomes very clearly agitated "you never told me that" with the way she persist to argue that English holds the key to progress.

  2. Peer reviewed

    Explore the range of linguistic and stylistic effects used to bring out the central ...

    4 star(s)

    However, Friel does offer some hope, as Owen, Manus and Hugh have all learnt to 'decode' the English language. Hugh is a character who, although is slightly self-deluded, is also a learned person.

  1. Peer reviewed

    How Does Brian Friel convey a sense of cultural identity through the way his ...

    3 star(s)

    The Irish characters within the play have a very strong culture liked to the ancient worlds of Greek and Latin literature with each of the parish members being able to speak some of the languages as well as their native Gaelic, although none of them, except Hugh and his sons

  2. Commentary on Act 1 of the book Translations by Brian Friel.

    Also when he says, 'Just to indicate...a presence.' Shows that maybe it is hard for the Irish to be noticed. When Manus feels that the master is not going to turn up he tells everyone to move to their seats so they can begin the lesson.

  1. In what ways does Brian Friel establish the theme of language and communication in ...

    We also learn that there are British soldiers who have come over to do carry out an ordnance survey, and this will cause problems between those in the Irish community who are strongly against English colonisation. Brian Friel's character each play significantly important roles in the themes discusses in the

  2. There are some dramatic devices and techniques that Friel uses to illuminate the play's ...

    Many of the storylines in the play are unresolved. This can be related to Maire and Yolland who want to run away from their old lives rather than resolve them and they want to live away from their original homes.

  1. The language used in 'Blood Wedding'

    The Beggar Woman is creating an image of the characters, whilst explaining what has previously happened. Lorca uses verse to recap events in an imaginative, metaphorical and interesting way. The verse is a lot more poetic and is used for the most part by characters when they are confronting their inner truth or emotion.

  2. How are the characters and their relations established in Act one of Brian Friel's ...

    people such as Hugh had to live in, it was not unusual for the Irish to want to find an escape from reality; Hugh's escape is to drink. Doalty never gets to the third question but the audience learn that he does this intentionally as Hugh can never get to his third point.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work