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How Have Other Peoples Readings Of "Translations" Helped You To Understand The Contexts Of The Play In Scene 1?

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Introduction

Dave King 12NI How Have Other Peoples Readings Of "Translations" Helped You To Understand The Contexts Of The Play In Scene 1? The first act of Friel's play "Translations" features many different contexts ranging from the infamous potato famine to hinting at the possible forming of the present day IRA (the Donnelly twins,) and politics. One of the major contexts that also coincide with the title of the play is translation. The translation of Irish name into English name. I only realised this by reading a Canadian writers essay on language and its importance in "Translations". Especially in relation to Owen and his take on the Irish language. Where as many Irish people, at the time, saw the English to be taking away Irelands identity by colonizing it and changing names, language etc. Owen seems to be na�ve and miss this. By changing place names they are not only taking away identity but also something more intimate, a part of their lifestyle. Hence when the English mistake Owens name to be Roland it seems to be Manus who is more frustrated by this whereas Owen says "Owen - Roland- what the hell. It's only a name. ...read more.

Middle

It has been shown by statistics that half a million Irish children received illegal tuition through hedge school. This links in with the whole idea of translations, as at the new national schools, where you were forced to go to by law, the language you would be taught in would be English, no longer Gaelic. To some people This was a problem but to others like Maire, English was seen as the language of opportunity. "The old language was a barrier to modern progress" she quotes from the famous Daniel O'Connel. There is an increasing amount of tension being built up in the first act with regards to the devastating potato famine. There is a sense of dramatic irony being shown as well. Seeing as the play is set in the 1830s this is only a short time before the potato blight occurred in 1845.this disaster caused the population of Ireland to drop from eight million down to six million. It is believed that one million people died of starvation while another million were forced to immigrate to start new lives in Canada and America etc. It is obvious to the audience that the famine will occur but the characters in the play are blind to this even though the clues are all there. ...read more.

Conclusion

Although Seamus Deane says "Translations" is a "sequence of events in history which are transformed by his writing into a parable of events in the present day." The play has also been described as an enlightening metaphor for the situation in Northern Ireland. The many contexts featured in the play are extremely important as they add a framework or shell to the play allowing it to go in many directions. Although it features so many different contexts Friel is quoted to say that "Translations" is "to do with language and only language." Therefore not historical contexts. To become more familiar with the play and its many contexts background reading and the reading of other people's interpretations are essential. By reading theses criticisms I have become more aware at how Friel has made the play so effective by setting it in the specific era. By doing this it makes it easier for the audience to see how the recent condition of Ireland spiralled way out of control originating in the mid 1800s. It also gives greater depth to the tragedy that will eventually befall and that the audience know the tragedy is coming but not on so many levels. Overall it is essential to at least to some form of background reading in order to understand the play to a higher level. ...read more.

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