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What is the role of Owen in Translations?

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Jonathan Richards What is the role of Owen in Translations? One of the first things Owen says on returning to Baile Beg is "I can't believe it. I come back after six years and everything's just as it was! Nothing's changed!" It is really Owen who has changed into a different person after his time away from Baile Beg. His primary role in the play is that of a translator for the visiting English, but within his role of translator he is also vital to the play as his presence allows relationships between the characters and the plot to develop. Owen provides many contrasting point of views due to the fact that he is working for the English but also a Baile Beg resident. He is a representative of the more forward - thinking Irish, such as himself and Maire. ...read more.


For example when he and Yolland are discussing what to call Tobair Vree he asks, "do we keep piety with a man long dead, long forgotten, his name eroded beyond recognition, whose trivial little story nobody else in the parish remembers?" Here Owen points to the Irish people's almost instinctive fear of change. He thinks that tradition is silly and just an excuse to hide from progression. Owen is the neutral and less passionate character in the play; therefore the audience find it easier to relate with Owen. In fact it is possible to call Owen the chief narrator. Although Owen is the translator in the play he acts as more of a barrier of understanding because when translating for Yolland and Lancey he omits details and changes meanings for words. A good example for this would be when he changes Maire's sentence of "Has he anything to say?" ...read more.


Doalty says how "he'll (Lancey) not put me out without a fight" but Owen reminds him that he is up against a trained army. This symbolises the fact that even if the Irish put up a fight against the English or tried to cling to traditions they would still come out second best. I would say in conclusion that Owens' primary role in the play is to allow communication between the two nations, but ironically he does the complete opposite. He attempts to communicate the cold reality of the situation through his translations but he is never really heard. He show that progress only comes as a result of communication and understanding, proved by his own success as a result of his ability to speak English. He tries to anglicise Baile Beg for the progression of the village and for the whole country. He may do this in a controversial way by using his power as translator but overall he translates for the good of both the English and Irish. ...read more.

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