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

Why is the play called Translations?

Extracts from this document...


Olivia Ollin Candidate no.- 7035 Pate's Grammar School - Centre no. - 57329 Coursework Section A 6. Why is the play called Translations? The notion of the word translation is most commonly associated with the idea of converting an expression into a different language; an idea certainly prevalent in Friel's play, through the Anglicisation of Irish place names and the numerous occasions where Owen interprets for the British soldiers. On another level, the word is also representative of the idea of converting something from one 'form, function or state to another'1, and is synonymous with the idea of change. Through the context of the British colonisation, we see not only the way in which the national identity of Ireland is altered, but also how personal identities are discerned and affected. The play is set in the summer of 1833, in rural North Western Ireland, a time of great political, social and economical unrest, amidst the arrival of two British soldiers sent to map the land. Ireland had been an area of British interest since the rule of Henry II in the 12th Century, however it was not until the early 17th Century and the reign ...read more.


The British colonisation presents a perfect context for the theme of identity as the country is forced to assume a blankness upon which its new identity can be rewritten. The post-colonial critic, Simon Ryan said of the implications of colonial map making, "They create and manipulate reality as much as they record it."2 As the old place names become pushed into irrelevancy, the history of the town is simultaneously erased. It can be said that the place names contain within them links to the past and memories that therefore build up the identity of a community, as was the case with "Tobair Bhrian". However, it can similarly be argued that names make little difference, as Owen says after hours of being mistakenly named Roland, "Owen - Roland - what the hell. It's only a name. It's the same me, isn't it?" Hugh also states, "it is not the literal past, the 'facts' of history, that shape us, but the images of the past embodied in language... we must never cease renewing these images because once we do, we fossilise." ...read more.


Literal translations are often insufficient, "I suppose we could anglicise it to Bunowen; but somehow that's neither fish nor flesh." Therefore; the idea of translation not only concerns itself with literal translations, but also the concept of translating an identity through history. Translation is mainly a term associated with communication. Through highlighting the flaws in translating, Friel is also highlighting the failures of lingual communication. When agreeing to teach Maire English, Hugh says, "I will provide you with the available words and the available grammar. But will that help you to interpret between privacies?" Friel points out that there are many cultural and personal significances embodied within language that fall through the gaps of translation, "English, I suggested, couldn't really express us"; therefore the most effective form of communication is implied to occur beyond language. While trying to translate Bun na hAbhan into English, literally meaning the mouth of the river, Yolland argues that it should be "left alone" as "there's no English equivalent for a sound like that". He recognises therefore that the 'music' of the Irish name has an untranslatable quality which should be preserved. ...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.

    He tells them that the babies name was Eamon; this shows you who the father is. Hugh starts asking questions and expects the answers to be answered rapidly, but when they are not he gives a response of 'too slow.'

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

    The opening movement can be referred to as the 'gathering' where the characters are introduced to the audience9. It is evident that the sequence in which Friel presents the characters to the audience on stage is significant. Primarily, an obvious observation to make would be the entrance of the Irish community to the stage, followed by the English.

  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. 'Translations' is essentially a play about change, consider the ways in which Friel introduces ...

    and though by the close of the action the story has not been resolved. "There was nothing uncertain about what Lancey said: it's a bloody military operational, Owen! And what's Yollands function? What's incorrect about the place names?" The audience is made painfully aware of the threads of change will

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

    Manus holds the strong views of the Irish nationalist, who is against England's invasion of Ireland and the changes they have come to make. The actions of Doalty when he steals the surveyor's pole are also an act of Irish nationalism which amuses Manus, he describes it as a 'gesture'.

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

    Manus' father, Hugh is a lot less considerate of other's feelings. His teaching methods include humiliating students and not giving them a chance to proove themselves. Brian Friel establishes Hugh's character in Act one by building his character up through the other characters' impersinations of him.

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

    Ireland all together, no matter what part you come from, cannot compare to being English. Captain Lancey, Owen's boss, is a recruit in the English army and his character makes it clear that he believes that to come from England gives you superiority over the Irish.

  2. How does Frayn present social class and it's importance to Stephen?

    portrays the idea of relative and absolute poverty; Stephen is in fact rather fortunate, but in relation to Keith, he is deemed as poor, whereas, the children who live in the cottages are faced with the struggle of absolute poverty.

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