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'Translations depicts the cultural take over of Ireland by the British Empire, yet it cannot be said to be simply pro-Irish.' Consider this comment

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Introduction

Lizzie Franks 29/25/03 English Literature Coursework- 'Translations depicts the cultural take over of Ireland by the British Empire, yet it cannot be said to be simply pro-Irish.' Consider this comment on the play. The Cultural take over of Ireland by the British Empire is a central issue in Translations. Friel examines this issue by describing the effects that certain changes have on individual characters; Irish and English. One may think a play with this issue could not help being biased towards the Irish. However, Friel 'did not wish to write a play about Irish peasants being suppressed by English sappers.' In order to ascertain whether he achieves this, we should look to his often complex characters and how they develop throughout the play. and so we must look at individual characters, as Friel does, to see whether this play is pro-Irish or not. Let us take Hugh O'Donnell as the first example. Hugh is portrayed as an intellectual character. He has a wide knowledge of languages and uses a sophisticated choice of words. ...read more.

Middle

Yolland also shows disloyalty to his own country and language when he decides that 'there is no English equivalent' for a sound like Bun na hAbhann' and wishes to live in Ireland because it is 'heavenly'. As an audience, we find ourselves praising Yolland and respecting him for his capacity to embrace other cultures. We also respect Manus for his sense of duty and loyalty towards Ireland. Friel plays with our emotions in this way making us hypocritical as we admire certain characters for the opposite reason that we admire others. It is interesting to note that the characters Friel wants us to admire are the ones who have a passionate love for Ireland; could this be a definite pro-Irish element of the play? In Irish drama, in the twentieth century, the stage-Englishman was developed as a counter to the stage Irish man. This stereotype took on two forms, both of which are found in 'Translations'. There is the cold, brutal Englishman that has no sentimental feelings for Ireland (Lancey). ...read more.

Conclusion

We ask has Owen betrayed his own culture, or is he embracing another culture as Yolland does? If it is betrayal, is this the fault of the English? For these questions Friel provides no answers, he invites us to use our own judgements and perceptions to interpret these characters. Friel uses Yolland, once again, to represent the attempt of joining two cultures together by his relationship with Maire. However, this joining is doomed to fail just like the couple's relationship is as, even though Maire and Yolland celebrate what they love about each other's cultures, thus ignoring their differences, there is still a failure to communicate. This can be seen when Yolland and Maire are having a 'conversation' with each other, even though neither speaks the others language, and Yolland explains 'I'm not going to leave here', while Maire pleads 'Take me away with you George'. This represents the inability for all the characters to communicate which results in the supposed death of Yolland. This English soldier is therefore seen as a victim and his questionable murderer appears to be the Irish Manus; although Friel leaves us to decide this for ourselves. ...read more.

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