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

In what ways does Brian Friel establish the theme of language and communication in Act I of 'Translations'.

Extracts from this document...


In what ways does Brian Friel establish the theme of language and communication in Act I of 'Translations' The play 'Translations' is written by Brian Friel. It is set in 1833 in a small town called Baile Beag in Donegal, Ireland. The main concept of the play is based on the politics between Ireland and England. The British colonists have sent over their soldiers to create an ordnance survey map of Ireland and also introduce a national system of state schools. The play also examines the effects of linguistic, cultural and political changes on the lives and feeling of these townspeople. The actual language of the play is Gaelic (an Irish language) but it is written and performed in English, to help overcome the language barrier. In 'Translations' Brian Friel establishes the themes of language and communication and attempts to get audiences to understand how such themes are significantly related to the themes of power and identity. Brian Friel establishes his themes through the use of various literary devices in Act I of the play, such as, the setting, characterisation, dialogue and symbolism. Another important device is the title; the title itself highlights the theme of language and communication. Act I of the play begins by describing and introducing the setting of the play using the stage directions. It also introduces some of the key characters. ...read more.


The invasion of the English language is robbing Ireland of its roots, its culture, and the etymological meanings of area names are being taken away, lost forever. One culture is being taken over by another unwelcome culture; this is the cause of the decline of the Irish language. We are also introduced to Sarah, who is a mute, she "has a speech defect...considered locally to be dumb". Brian Friel uses her character to foreground the most basic form of verbal communication. There is obviously a difficulty in Sarah presenting her opinions and views, but Manus and the other characters obviously have found away around this and are able to interpret her signs and grunts as an attempt to communicate. If Ireland was to become a completely English speaking country all the people around her would also be as 'clueless' to speaking as she is, as we see in the play the Irish characters find it hard to pronounce the foreign sound of English words. The character of Sarah is used as a device to symbolise Ireland being unable to speak English, and being seen as "dumb" in the eyes of the English-speaking. Manus is teaching her the mechanics of speech and the production of sound, he is helping her overcome this barrier of not being able to communicate with others verbally. It would obviously be a massive achievement for her and Manus recognises this he is very encouraging. ...read more.


He is rather patronising, when addressing the Irish 'he speaks as if he were addressing children - a shade too loudly' (Act I, stage directions, pg 32). He represents the ignorant English, those who do not attempt at all to try and sympathise and communicate no more than necessary with the local people. He obviously considers English as a language which has great power and authority. There is a lack of communication between him and the Irish, as he uses a translator. Also although he is a learned and educated man, he does not understand the well valued elitist languages of Latin and Greek which Hugh finds to be quite laughable. In conclusion, Brian Friel uses a wide variation of devices to get his many complex and intertwining themes and views across to the audience. There are many underlying ideas and also some obvious strong nationalist views. Each of the characters play significant roles in presenting the ideas, the are all very individual in their views and so Brian Friel is able to cover every view point. We are able to sympathise with the characters, but it is not strongly biased in favour of the Irish as we can easily see the need for the introduction of the English language. Obviously no single viewpoint can be termed as correct, and Brian Friel is able to appreciate this in his play. In Act I Brian Friel uses these devices extensively to introduce his themes which are worked and built upon in the rest of the play. MOHAMMAD YASIN ULLAH ...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

    Naming and Power in Friel's Translations

    4 star(s)

    The name Donnelly is a stereotypical Irish name making us believe that they are probably stereotypically Irish in their nature.

  2. Peer reviewed

    What Issues Of Communication Are Raised In The Play 'Translations'?

    5 star(s)

    By portraying the grading of a language quality, Friel makes the point that the Irish language contains its own inherent qualities which should allow it to maintain its own existence. Perhaps the most apt section of the play for displaying the communication difficulties between the English soldiers and the Irish Hedge school is probably when Lancey and Yolland first arrive.

  1. Peer reviewed

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

    4 star(s)

    The metaphor of codes is also used by Friel to express the complexity of language, and to express the idea that although one may learn a language, the true language of a community and the secrets which it holds are often difficult to 'decode'.

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

    Bridget is a plump, fresh young girl and has a countrywoman's instinctive cunning. They represent young Ireland that needs preserving and is very loving. When Doalty enters he does an imitation of the master, 'Vesperal salutations to you all.' He is a practical joker and brings comedy to the play.

  1. The language used in 'Blood Wedding'

    The Moon enters, the Moon is an unseen force, yet Lorca chooses to give the Moon a physical form, power and life. The Moon seems to represent the lovers' fate, through the verse we can see that the Moon wants to find the lovers and has the power to do so with his light.

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

    which he treats everyone in the classroom equally, ignoring his superior position, shows how his weak side can also be seen as an asset as he is always trying to avoid hurting and condemming people and tries to help people to his fullest extent and be curtious and civil.

  1. How does Friel explore the concept of identity in Making History, looking at alternative ...

    When O'Neill becomes angry or tries to emphasise what he's saying, the stage directions point out his use of Tyrone accent. "O'Neill: (Very angry, in Tyrone accent) I think so. And this is my country. (Quietly, in his usual accent)

  2. Compare the presentation of the colonial situation in 'A Passage to India' and 'Translations', ...

    by the way in which separate parts are brought to life in each of the other sections. Notably, in 'Mosque' the opening section of the novel, Forster repeatedly refers to "The Marabar Caves", despite the fact that they are not important until the following section.

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