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

Using Act One of the play ‘Translations’: Brian Friel Presents Us With An Intellectual Irish Arcadia. How Far Do You Agree With This Interpretation?

Extracts from this document...


Using Act One of the play 'Translations': Brian Friel Presents Us With An Intellectual Irish Arcadia. How Far Do You Agree With This Interpretation? I think that on one level we stumble across this little hidden goldmine of intellects but on another these people can seem backward and old fashioned in their ways. By looking at Act One and reading between the lines I should be able to prove which of these is more true. To understand what we are trying to look for we must look to the question and it's meaning. The Encyclopaedic World Dictionary says intellectual means ' possessing or showing intellect esp. to a high level. This should guide me in what I'm looking for. When we start the play we are instantly brought into the little community of Baile Beag. From the word go we can see what Friel is telling us about these people. Each of the characters are significant, from the major to the mundane. They each play a very relevant part in trying to decide whether or no this is a brainy people. We find Manus, a lame school teacher, helping Sarah, a dumb young woman without age or identity. Instantly we feel sympathy for the characters concerned. Manus is a stereotype- pale, lame with a good heart. Sarah is the same- accepting her fate as the village idiot without fuss, doting on Manus. Another character present in the initial scene is Jimmy Jack Cassie. ...read more.


And Greek. He is clearly a man without great social skills but of great intelligence in the field in which he's interested. At the start we hear he comes to the classes 'partly for the company and partly for the intellectual stimulation' so we see he is eager to learn and improve himself. It also mentions he is fluent in Latin and Greek but was not pedantic which enforced the point that his intellect is something he takes as normal- as does everyone else around him. Maire is harder to decipher. We can tell she ably bodied, collecting in the harvest and working hard, long labour. We can see she interested in travelling abroad in the hope she can earn money in America to send home. She studies a map of America avidly but we can't tell whether or not her interest is purely for the purpose of earning money or whether she actually concerned about America or Geography. We do know she wished to learn English- perhaps in the hope it will benefit her in America. She even goes as far as to mention it to Hugh. "We should all be learning to speak English. That's what my mother says. That's what I say." In this respect we can see she wants to better herself, perhaps an indication that she feels Hugh's teaching in Greek and Latin is no longer sufficient for her needs. However she has been brought up without a man in the house, forced to work hard to raise the children beneath her and her forte seems to be labour rather than mental work. ...read more.


Owen mentions that his job is to change the names of the places in Ireland with the help of Yolland. But the way he says it is very revealing. "My job is translate the quaint, archaic tongue you people persist in speaking into the King's good English". He belittles their language, saying it's old fashioned and they still speak with it. He also calls English good, another term that puts down Irish. Owen has gone away an Irishman and come back an Englishman and this helps us understand why these people seem so out of date. He has gone away and made a fortune but only with the help of the English. Without them , we have to ask, would he have become so successful? And if he hadn't have moved away from Baile Beag would he have all the things he has? Probably not, which undermines this quaint, perfect image we have of the community. Now the people are no longer cutely unaware of anything but their little existence, they are backward and their way of life isn't just simple, but damaging to their prospects. This is a community with several intellects and I think the point that Friel is making is that these people are intelligent but it's an intelligence with boundaries, in this case the boundaries of the village. You go outside these boundaries and you find that their learning is no good for them and they can't use anything they know. However, because they are a simple, rural, sort of people their intelligence is sufficient for them, despite our perception of what intellect should be. ...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. Commentary on Act 1 of the book Translations by Brian Friel.

    Bridget and him keep doing impressions of the master and how he speaks, they are mocking him. Doalty turns things that are serious into jokes, 'They took the bloody machine apart!' Manus is against the English and he is expressing approval in what he thinks the Donnelly twins did, maybe he understands terrorists.

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

    Lancey's blinkered statement that 'a map is a representation on paper' reinforces this viewpoint. However, I disagree with critics such as Andrews who over historicize the play, claiming that Friel attempted to portray the map as an "extreme act of colonialism".

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

    (Quietly, in his usual accent) I have married a very talented, a very spirited, a very beautiful young woman. ..." This sudden change of accent is a method of gaining presence and making a point for O'Neill, the use of his Irish accent shows he is in command and he is still in charge of his country.

  2. How does Brian Friel establish the theme of language and its effects on communication, ...

    Captain Lancey who clearly symbolises England as his manner is polite and imperative, is very patronising when he talks, thinking that if he just talks slow and loud as if to a child the Irish will some how be able to understand him "a picture- you understand picture?".

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

    "Translations" gives us a picture of what Ireland's peasant population was like during that period. Marie chooses to emigrate, and Hugh and Jimmy were inspired to take up arms against Britain in the 1798 rebellion. The Donnelly twins are not introduced to the audience at any point throughout the play

  2. How does the title 'Translations' relate to the play? In particular explore how Friel ...

    With much coaxing and encouragement by Manus, Sarah manages to verbalize her name. Sarah's form of translation is from silence to words. Friel uses it as a sign of hope which is expressed in the words of Manus; -"Marvellous! Bloody Marvellous!...

  1. In what ways could Hugh justifiably be said to be the central character and ...

    This is hardly what we would expect of a hero whose aim is to maintain his cultural values and those of his fellow countrymen. Perhaps this is an example of cowardice on the part of Hugh, not wishing to get on the wrong side of the imperial power, or perhaps

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

    as successful as this hedge school is in educating the likes of Jimmy and Maire, there seems little likelihood that any national school will be as effective or as culturally aware and so as these schools begin to increase in numbers and more students leave the hedge-schools, so will decrease the standard of traditional Irish education.

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