Communication and Non-communication in Act 2 Scene 2 of Brian Friel's "Translations"

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Will Taylor 12G1

Examine Act 2 Scene 2 from both of the following perspectives : Communication and Non-communication

At the beginning of Act 2 Scene 2, Maire and Yolland have just left the dance at Tobair Vree, in high spirits. They were able to communicate with each other through the contact they shared when dancing, but are oblivious of the fact that they will soon be unable to communicate on even the most basic of levels. This soon becomes apparent when they speak after each other, making statements in no way connected. Yolland begins, “I could scarcely keep up with you”, and Maire says, “Wait till I get my breath back.” They suffer from a lack of verbal communication and understanding, which can be juxtaposed with the situation of the two countries in the play, England and Ireland. Maire wants to leave Baile Beag and begin a new life elsewhere, and Yolland, a British soldier, offers what she sees as an opportunity to escape her impoverished life. On the other hand, Yolland wishes to stay in Baile Beag. This is conveyed later in the scene where Yolland states “I’m not going to leave here” and moments later Maire says “Take me away with you, George.” If they were able to communicate on a deeper level, then they would see that their relationship, purely emotional and physical, is completely impractical due to contrasting desires. Maire begins to use very primitive English, mispronouncing the elements “water”, “fire” and “earth” possibly to demonstrate that their feelings for each other are only primitive, and not intimate. Maire repeats “George”, returning to the only solid understanding she has with Yolland, who in turn begins to say names of Irish places, saying “Poll na gCaorach. Lis Maol.” Both Yolland and Maire find common understanding in the Gaelic place names, which has a sense of irony because the placenames are going to be converted into English later in the play. An important word that is recurrent in the scene is “always”. Yolland says:

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        “I would tell you how I want to be here – to live

              here – always – with you – always, always”,

and Maire questions, “’Always’? What is that word – ‘always’?” A few moments later, Maire says:

        “I want to live with you I anywhere – anywhere at

        all – always – always.”

Yolland then replies, “‘Always’? What is that word – ‘always’? Both misinterpret the other repeating “always” in confusion, mistaking it for agreement. This is an example of what they believe to be communication, but is in fact non-communication.

        The ...

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