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

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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.  Quietly reading in the

corner, he is thoroughly absorbed in his fictional Greek world.  Occasionally he speaks to

Manus, shouting out his views on various, mythology- based subjects but I feel the audience

can’t really get a feel for his personality.  He is one of the hardest characters to form an

opinion on as he is a very odd person.  He breathes the classics, living in a dream world of

his own making and not doing a very good job of reality.

Maire is next into the scene and instantly takes control.  Described as a strong woman, she

noticeably ignores Manus’ attempts at conversation and engages others around her in mild

chatter.  She talks about the harvest and we don’t get to see her character right away, as

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she won’t talk to Manus on a personal level.

Then we meet Bridget and Doalty.  Doalty is a loveable rouge; we hear he has been moving

English equipment and makes light hearted remarks about Jimmy Jack’s fascination with

Greece.  Bridget is a warm, simple young woman who laughs readily and jokes with Doalty.  

They are easy with each other and the people around them.

We are them introduced to Hugh, the school master.  He is also a stereotype.  An oldish

man, Hugh is a drunkard, playing the father ignorant to his weak son’s needs. ...

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