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

Tensions in act1

Free essay example:

Angelica Bagot

Translations

Discuss the variety of and significance of the tensions in act 1.

 ‘Translations’ by Brian Friel is a play written to inform the audience of the loss of culture and lack of understanding between England and Ireland. This book is ambiguous concerning what the moral of the play is. This could vary from Hope vs. Death to Understanding vs. Misinterpretations.

 Misunderstanding someone or something, as we all know can be quite frustrating. Act 1 contains many scenes of which can portray this in some way or other.

 Sarah arrives in act one as a mute, Manus tries to help her to speak her name but she appears unable. Gradually she succeeds. This in itself symbolises a lack of communication between two people. Considering Sarah can hardly complete a sentence, selfishly jimmy interrupts their conversation by illustrating to them both that he is perfectly intelligent and on top of that he not only can he construct a sentence but he can deliver in more than one language.

‘Get your tongue and your lips working ‘My name’- come on ‘my name is’- good girl’. Of course this does not simply mean that Sarah cannot communicate with Manus but the subtext meaning could be analysing the communication between the two countries, England and Ireland. I believe Sarah to be a representation of the silence that Ireland are being practically forced to accept and obey. Contridictivly, Sarah is doing her best to learn which could represent the fact that Ireland are going to fight for what they know, and will continue to learn. Sarah represents the Gaelic language and the fact that it is slowly becoming distinct and even though ‘saying your name’ is not one of the hardest tasks to achieve she still has trouble doing this. This could give the audience the impression that even the easiest of tasks are becoming laborious. The significance of this scene began to manifest itself because although the play itself does not say precisely that ‘it is discussing and illustrating the significance of the play text and the characters to show how Ireland is loosing it’s culture’, instead this is portrayed to us through the lives of these characters, they are normal people in a normal place, they are nothing special and yet each person can illustrate something different about Ireland. This is very compelling.

  With everything happening around Ireland it is hard not to find fault in their discussions. Maire becomes agitated because they keep talking of the sweet smell ‘God did the potatoes ever fail in Baile Beag? Well, did they ever- ever?’ This part of the scene is one which contains a lot of dramatic tension, due to Maire’s silence a climax is reached once Maire reveals her thoughts about their complaints. The potato famine was a very serious issue but Maire brought it to their attention that there are worse things happening in Ireland than their obsession in the lack of potatoes or their ‘theories’ of the potatoes rotting. The significance of this may be to raise to the audience attention, the issues concerning what was actually happening at the time of Irelands culture distinction. Freil made this a moment to mark in the play because the speech was intended to be spoken with a hint or sarcasm and frustration showing that this was a very important issue that clearly got on Maire’s nerves because they misanalysed a situation.    

 When Owen enters tension is brought with him. He is a translator for the British Soldiers that are trying to change the place names of Ireland into the kings English. Knowing that someone from you own country and in some situations your own family, is helping another country to destroy your language and take away your history can indeed be irritating causing a build of tension. Owen is an interesting character and seems bemused by the fact that the people of Ireland are still speaking Gaelic. ‘My job is to translate the quaint, archaic tongue you people persist in speaking into the king’s good English’. Freil has made this a significant moment in the play. The audience has been introduced to a character who in someway represents ‘the object of demise’.

 Also as we come to the end of the scene Owen and Manus are discussing the translation that Owens has just given to the rest of the hedge-school concerning why the soldiers were in Baile Beag.

‘And what’s Yolland’s function? What’s ‘incorrect’ about the place names we have here?’

‘Nothing at all. They’re just going to be standardised.’

‘You mean changed into English?’

‘Where there’s ambiguity, they’ll be anglicised’

This is also significant and may be the most important part of the act 1.

The two brothers represent the two countries, both with different views and both with different perspectives of how things should be, but obviously not so different. Manus is the character representing Ireland, he is intelligent and passionate about his culture, alike others he doesn’t understand why the English are trying to anglicise Ireland. Owen is the character representing England; he is also intelligent and passionate about his work. Owen, originally from Ireland represents the ‘English hand’, because he is helping the English he is becoming part of the reason why Ireland is being able to be anglicised. The argument between Manus and Owen was about misinterpretation and understanding, showing that this argument represents something more than a fight between two brothers.

In conclusion there are many tensions of scene one that are mainly based on communication and misinterpretation but these themes are largely based through out the whole book. England and Ireland are represented by each character as each of the characters make up a little piece of Ireland. Sarah represents communication and the distinction of the Gaelic language. Jimmy represents intelligence and passion. Manus represents understanding and culture, Hugh represents fire and Knowledge and Maire represents Love. The tensions in act one were very significant, they gave the audience an insight to Ireland and the Irish people and also what the Gaelic language really means to them, these tensions arose thoughts and events that happened in Ireland and by making them known to us through arguments or non-agreeable discussions showed the audience that they were important.

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

(?)
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

Related AS and A Level English Skills and Knowledge Essays

See our best essays

Related AS and A Level Brian Friel essays

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

    Like him Ireland has fallen into disrepair. After taking the register he apologies for his lateness as he was at a christening. He hands his stick to Manus as if he were a footman; this shows that he takes Manus for granted.

  2. "The British are bad news to the Irish" - "Explore critical views and explain ...

    Kiberd's personal view on what "Translations" was about is that, "Translations is a tough-minded play about the brutal actualities of cultural power." Kiberd meant in this quote that the play is about making Irish people aware that they lost their language and that that's what Friel was trying to say when he wrote the play.

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

    Hugh tells his students the horrifying fact that Lancey does not speak a word of Latin or Greek, he only, ' speaks -

  2. Translations - Character Study.

    32). * Lancey wants gratitude and co-operation yet he shows the Irish disrespect. His threat of killing "every animal in Baile Beag" unless Yolland is not found within a day then evicting the nearest townlands if he is not found in two days shows that he does not care about the Irish welfare and is only interested in money.

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

    "an attitude to life both exquisite and durable" and Mrs Moors is troubled because she feels that "she lacks a sure response." On the other hand, Godbole is not troubled by such problems, as he explains, " I say to Him, Come, come, come, come, come, come.

  2. What do you find of significance in Friel's presentation of the world of the ...

    The scene takes place in a, ' vaguley outside area' and surrounds the love story between the English Lieutenant Yolland and Maire. It is highly significant that Friel sets this scene in a place outside of the hedge-school, as Maire and Yolland, for a small moment in time are not

  1. Turn to Act two, scene two and remind yourself of the whole scene. This ...

    this is one of the key things that relates to the rest of the play, where we find out that both their intentions are perceived differently, these sentences only heighten the contrast between Maire and Yolland. Before they next speak, they are far apart from each other and then rejoin to introduce each others names.

  2. How does the opening sequence to Translations prepare the audience for what is to ...

    audience the first signs of British influence through education as they were the ones to establish these schools, and he hints at the damage this influence may have on Irish education by noting that ?When it opens, this is finished: nobody?s going to pay to go to a hedge-school.? Being

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