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

Naming and Power in Friel's Translations

Extracts from this document...


Write a critical appreciation of this passage, focus on Friel's exploration of the relationship between naming and power This passage, near the start of Act Two in Translations shows Owen and Yolland in the process of naming the places they come across on their map of Ireland. The characters and the text itself both deal with the issues surrounding these names and the powers names have over both people and places. The powers of destruction and creation are shown to be one of the effects of the process of naming. The beginning of the passage touches on the destructive side of naming by using the prefix 'de' ('describe' and 'denominate') twice in the words Owen uses to explain what they are trying to do by changing Irish place names; 'we are trying to denominate and at the same time describe that tiny area of soggy, rocky, sandy ground...' . The prefix 'de' usually expresses a reversal or negation which in this case would mean they are 'de - scribing' i.e. 'unwriting' and 'de- nominating' which phonologically sounds as if they are taking away the names of the places, although if one looks at the semantics of the words they mean completely different things. ...read more.


However if we simply listen to the words Owen is using such as 'on past Burnfoot...there's nothing here...until we come down here to the south' and 'we now come across that beach' it sounds as though he and Yolland are actually walking across Ireland and changing the names as they see the places. Although the map on the floor is a significant prop it would not be very visually noticeable to the audience making this effect even stronger. Linking the maps to the places in this way means that changing the names on the maps has a big symbolic impact. They are not simply altering names on maps but are altering the places themselves. The symbolic impact of changing a places name is a theme which is present throughout the passage. Owen shows us the difficulty of capturing the full identity of a place in a new, manufactured name which hasn't undergone the slow process of growing along with the place it is meant to represent. 'We are trying to denominate and at the same time describe that tiny area of soggy, rocky, sandy ground where the little stream enters the sea'. This same attitude is shown a little later in Owens challenge 'the name of that ridge is Druim Drubh. ...read more.


The origin and meanings of their name give us yet more insight in to their character. Named after the rebel chieftain O'Donnell Ulster who tried to stop the Tudor conquest in 1598 the twins rebellious behaviour seems to be living up to their surname. Names have also been shown to have importance earlier in the play, for example in the first act when the name of the baby being christened would show the community who it's father was, another example of a name creating part of a persons identity. This idea has foundations in mythology. Knowing a persons true name is often said to either give one power over the person or to know the persons true 'essence' and self. Juxtaposed with the references to the pagan, mythological powers of names are references to their spiritual and religious side. Owens positioning in this scene is described in the stage directions as 'on his hands and knees', consulting the map. This could be interpreted as symbolising worship of the map and therefore of his country which fits in with the idea of Ireland as the holy land of Eden. His position over the map looks to the audience as if Owen is 'playing God' with this representation of Ireland. It portrays the process of naming as a holy act in itself, which would back up the idea of naming being a creative (or destructive) force. ...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

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

4 star(s)

A strong conclusion. Overall, an articulate, perceptive commentary which illustrates effectively and addresses important details of staging. With better paragraphing, this would easily achieve the highest standard.

Marked by teacher Val Shore 01/03/2012

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

    Classics in Friel's Translations

    5 star(s)

    Another parallel between the two relationships is the existence of a 'barrier' between the people in it. In Jimmy Jack's case it is the obvious fact that Athene does not actually exist in the physical world. His communication with her may be effective but it isn't real eye to eye, conventional conversation.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Consider the themes of language and naming in Act 1, and explore their relationship ...

    3 star(s)

    At the very beginning of the play, Hugh, a large man with residual dignity, is absent because he is attending a christening, as we find out from Manus and Sarah. Friel has used this theme to demonstrate the fact that it is because of a naming ceremony, in effect giving a child its identity, that one man is absent.

  1. Peer reviewed

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

    5 star(s)

    don't know a word you're saying", Yolland is instrumental in scything the grass for Maire's convenience. Despite this, communication still proves somewhat difficult as Maire and Yolland struggle to express their feelings for each other. Yolland thinks that he will be able to overcome the communication barrier, but attempting to do so only results in his untimely demise.

  2. Peer reviewed

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

    4 star(s)

    Within the extract, some political issues are encountered. It is clear that Hugh has Nationalist views-the English language is referred to as "plebeian". This opinion is shared by Manus, Hugh's son, who purposely speaks Irish in front of Yolland, and rudely responds to Yolland's translation from Irish to English with "So."

  1. Peer reviewed

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

    3 star(s)

    Although the characters are speaking in Gaelic on the stage they speak in English but the audience are made aware of this as the English has been given Irish twists, except in the case of Hugh who elevates himself above the others by using Standard English.

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

    Friel has created a play that does not seem to have a beginning or ending like many other plays. I think that this is representative of time itself, which doesn't begin or end. The play does not follow a conventional structure like other plays.

  1. Using Act One of the play ‘Translations’: Brian Friel Presents Us With An Intellectual ...

    Maire also goes as far to call him a scholar in reference to his wanting to help her with the hay:- "That's the name of a hornpipe, isn't it?- 'The Scholar In The Hayfield'. He also displays a fair knowledge of Greek as he talks to Jimmy about Homer.

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

    to move away from the poorer country life and live more luxuriously in the city. Later in the act we also discover that he has returned for work needs, he has been employed as a translator between the British soldiers and the people of Ireland.

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