Review of "Brian Friel"

published 21/05/2008 | XICripZ
Member since : 25/06/2007
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In it for the money.
Good
Pro Strong plot
Cons Too much for it's length
very helpful
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"Translations"

Today I had an AS-Level English Literature, in which I had to write an essay on Brain Friel's "Translations", so I thought since it's still fresh in my mind, I should talk about the author and the book and share this.

The play "Translations" is set in 1833 Ireland in a village called Baile Beg, despite the fact it was written by Friel in 1980. This time gap allows the author to distance himself from the times and introduce humnour into what was a ominous time in Ireland with the continual threat of an oncoming potato blight, which audience will already be aware of, creating dramatic irony.

The play is set in a hedge school, an informal establishment which provides education for adults in Baile Beg. The schoolmaster, Hugh, appears to be the most authoritive figure here despite the fact his son, Manus, appears to be much more intelligent, but the way Friel exaggerates Hugh arrogant ways, by using the most elloquent language in order to assert his position amongst the others. At this time, England creating an OS Map of their empire, of which Ireland is included and so many soldiers are present attempting to carry this out by Anglisizing all of the supposedly backwards Irish names. This deprives the nation of ts identity.

The characters in the text display that the author is attempting to show that there is a lack in progression, especially in the case of Jimmy Jack, nicknamed 'the Infant Prodigy' despite being, "...in his sixites.". This and the fact that he is stuck in a time he is lost in a time which he never lived prevents him, and the other characters from ever adavancing in the tale as he seem to relate every conversation into ancient texts. This all shows how the country is in regression , especially when compared to England, which was striving at the time with an ever-expanding empire seems to emphasise the level of progression which is occurring around Ireland and not in it.

The characters in this texts seem to take on traditional Irish traits, which I feel the author is able to place upon them as he himself is Irish, but at times it seems to play up to the stereotype too much as there are members of what would develpo to become the IRA, a person on a pursuit to migrant to America, and the rest just going with the flow which others create as the individuals have little control over their own lives.

It is very clever that although all of the characters are speaking in Gailic throughout the play, it is written in English, initially this is confusing as you see people not being able to communicate with each other, eventhough everything is in one language, but it works well and would be interesting to see on stage. I felt that the technique was risky, but was well executed, and does bring about some good comic moments for the audience.

The previously mentioned lack of communication acts as another key concept which makes this play work as all the people are lost in their own little worlds, and this prevents them from being about to carry out any posivitve and constructive action for their progression in their lives. One character in particular seems to completely take thisto the extrem as Sarah, a mute, posses some of the most vital information in the text, but is unable to express this with her limited vocabulary, which she can only use around Manus. Her attatchment to hm appears to have also developed to where she has fallen for him, but is also unable to communicate this to him, leaving the character hopeless.

In conclusion, Friel is extremely skilled as he manages to add a lot of depth to a short play which is only around 90 pages (but costs £9; thieves). Although I had to buy this for my studies, I'm glad that I came across it because it is a very interesting text as the setting give a strong foundation for the characters to expand on, it seem Friel was able to simply flow with his writing, but he certainly hasn't done this as various details can be seen to relate to the context without seeming forced in any way. It would be beneficial to re-read the book as many lines from early on in the book appear to have relevance to later sections, showing the amount of revision the author must have done on his own text.

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Comments on this review

  • Chruss published 22/05/2008
    good review.x
  • majeedkazi published 22/05/2008
    great review
  • Maestrolover published 22/05/2008
    Very well written and interesting review.
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Type: Writer's corner

Genre: Authors

Author: Brian Friel

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