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

Naming and Power in Friel's Translations

Extracts from this document...


Write a critical appreciation of this passage, focus on Friel's exploration of the relationship between naming and power This passage, near the start of Act Two in Translations shows Owen and Yolland in the process of naming the places they come across on their map of Ireland. The characters and the text itself both deal with the issues surrounding these names and the powers names have over both people and places. The powers of destruction and creation are shown to be one of the effects of the process of naming. The beginning of the passage touches on the destructive side of naming by using the prefix 'de' ('describe' and 'denominate') twice in the words Owen uses to explain what they are trying to do by changing Irish place names; 'we are trying to denominate and at the same time describe that tiny area of soggy, rocky, sandy ground...' . The prefix 'de' usually expresses a reversal or negation which in this case would mean they are 'de - scribing' i.e. 'unwriting' and 'de- nominating' which phonologically sounds as if they are taking away the names of the places, although if one looks at the semantics of the words they mean completely different things. ...read more.


However if we simply listen to the words Owen is using such as 'on past Burnfoot...there's nothing here...until we come down here to the south' and 'we now come across that beach' it sounds as though he and Yolland are actually walking across Ireland and changing the names as they see the places. Although the map on the floor is a significant prop it would not be very visually noticeable to the audience making this effect even stronger. Linking the maps to the places in this way means that changing the names on the maps has a big symbolic impact. They are not simply altering names on maps but are altering the places themselves. The symbolic impact of changing a places name is a theme which is present throughout the passage. Owen shows us the difficulty of capturing the full identity of a place in a new, manufactured name which hasn't undergone the slow process of growing along with the place it is meant to represent. 'We are trying to denominate and at the same time describe that tiny area of soggy, rocky, sandy ground where the little stream enters the sea'. This same attitude is shown a little later in Owens challenge 'the name of that ridge is Druim Drubh. ...read more.


The origin and meanings of their name give us yet more insight in to their character. Named after the rebel chieftain O'Donnell Ulster who tried to stop the Tudor conquest in 1598 the twins rebellious behaviour seems to be living up to their surname. Names have also been shown to have importance earlier in the play, for example in the first act when the name of the baby being christened would show the community who it's father was, another example of a name creating part of a persons identity. This idea has foundations in mythology. Knowing a persons true name is often said to either give one power over the person or to know the persons true 'essence' and self. Juxtaposed with the references to the pagan, mythological powers of names are references to their spiritual and religious side. Owens positioning in this scene is described in the stage directions as 'on his hands and knees', consulting the map. This could be interpreted as symbolising worship of the map and therefore of his country which fits in with the idea of Ireland as the holy land of Eden. His position over the map looks to the audience as if Owen is 'playing God' with this representation of Ireland. It portrays the process of naming as a holy act in itself, which would back up the idea of naming being a creative (or destructive) force. ...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

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

4 star(s)

A strong conclusion. Overall, an articulate, perceptive commentary which illustrates effectively and addresses important details of staging. With better paragraphing, this would easily achieve the highest standard.

Marked by teacher Val Shore 01/03/2012

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. Marked by a teacher

    By close examination of Act 1, discuss the ways in which Friel explores the ...

    3 star(s)

    way in which they converse and this perhaps excludes outside members, and therefore defines the identity of those within the community. In addition, this suggests the way in which Lancey, who comes from an official and formal background, may not be comfortable with such informalities, therefore defining his character as

  2. Translations - Character Study.

    As the play progresses, however his view changes and he learns how important the ritual of naming is. * Owen has a strong relationship with his father and brother. "He embraces Hugh warmly and gently". Throughout the play Owen and Manus have differing views, opinions and roles in the situations

  1. In Henry V Shakespeare has used language to communicate the setting and the mood. ...

    the reader to understand what it was like to be in certain people's shoes at the time of the crossing and the siege. If the reader were a 'hempen tackle ship-boy' then he or she would be 'climbing,' and if the reader was on the ship he or she will be hearing confused sounds.

  2. Discuss the means by which Ibsen uses language to convey the nature of Helmer ...

    like he's her father and he takes upon a father role to dominate her, he also uses pet names such as "spend thrift" and "skylark", he often uses this when he is trying to make a point and uses pet names to try and win her over or add effect to his speech.

  1. How does the presentation of the demise of Ireland differ in Friels plays Translations ...

    Friel uses the concept of history differently in the plays. In Translations history is used to reference a dream world in which cultures can co-exist. In Making History, history emphasises heroism, or ironically the lack of. For example, Hugh says: "it was the goddess's aim and cherished hope that here

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

    confirming O'Neill highly regards their friendship and that Harry is most likely that of a close friend than a secretary to O'Neill. This is a key relationship in Making History that allows the audience an insight into O'Neill's personal identity.

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

    As previously stated, Stephen is allowing his social status to manipulate his lifestyle by making himself feel inferior to those above him, such as Keith Hayward. Stephen?s reluctance to rise against those in a higher social class than him entitles Keith to take advantage of him.

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

    the Baile Beag society in that it acts to compliment Sarah, yet in a very colloquial manner. All of this is done to prepare the audience for a contrast between the people of Baile Beag and the more formal, intrusive British forces present in Ireland so to accentuate the differing nature of the two societies.

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