Language, Not Politics Or History Essay

1000 Words4 Pages
Brian Friel correctly claims that Translations is a play that emphasizes language, not politics or history. This story takes place in a rural Gaelic-speaking town in Ireland and focuses on the interactions between Irish and English folk. These conversations end up to be a series of ‘mistranslations’. Throughout the plot of this play, Friel proves that a person’s identity comes from language alone. Understanding the politics and history of a play merely explains the factual framework of the story, but does not facilitate the reader to make inferences about the underlying meaning and purpose of the play like language does.
The setting lends an important historical context to the play, but language tied with culture helps to unravel the meaning behind the play. This play is set in 1833, a time when, an Irish town, Ballybeg, is in the beginning phases of British colonization. The British imperial rule introduces the Ordnance Survey, which is mapped by “Lieutenant Yolland- ... [Royal Engineer]…” (405) in the story, to anglicize Ireland. Yolland, a British Royal Engineer, is a dynamic character who is a paragon for proving that language is an integral part of one’s identity. Though knowing this historical context of the war sheds light on Yolland’s background and occupation (factual information), it does not give insight on his true feelings for his job and cultural heritage. He is a British soldier who originally works “with the East India Company” but “unfortunately…misse[s]
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