The First change that we come across in the play is the change of education, changing from a Hedge school into national schools. ” Did you apply for that job in the new national school? ” Hedge schools were underground throughout the eighteenth century. Their name came from the fact that, that literally was where most of the classes took place at that time. The School Master (Hugh), with 35 years of experience behind him, is dogmatic, peremptory, and short with his pupils, and hoping to “trade up” when a new regional school gets built, though he takes a dim view of emphasizing English.
“Did you apply for that job in the new national school? This quote indicates that Marie realises that there is a change that is going to take place and that times are changing so you just have to accept it. By saying this quote “When it opens, this is finished, nobodies going to pay to go to a hedge school” Marie also shows that the value of a hedge school is nothing as time progresses things modify and you have to accept that, this indicates that Marie is a self-assured, forward thinking character. A further sort of change is that Friel’s drama describes the arrival of English soldiers to a remote section of Ireland as they attempt to create the first accurate map of the area.
Making the map, however, means renaming places and eroding tradition, in addition to preparing the area for military occupation. The two characters Captain Lancey and Lieutenant Yolland are the characters that play the English soldiers, which shows that they have power. This fixation about whether knowledge is power could also be an essential theme in the play. When Captain Lancey talks about new maps, place names, those on both sides the language gap can comprehend nothing without the help of a local boy (Owen).
Lieutenant Yolland, is entered with the romance of the land he has come to alter with language and law, “Very kind of you, – thank you… can only say that I feel- I feel very foolish to-to be working here and not to speak your language, but I intend to rectify that-with Roland’s help I intend to” The other is a more pragmatic captain here simply to do his job to the letter. “This enormous task has been embarked on so that the military authorities will be equipped with up-to-date and accurate information on every corner of this part of the Empire. ”
Personal and political conflicts are intertwined at the deepest levels as the action begins to unfold, the characters are faced with questions about themselves in which the very words they speak are vital to understanding where they have come and to where they are going, the translation of place names is explicitly related to a transformation of the landscape itself. This trauma will affect these people on more levels than one, and though by the close of the action the story has not been resolved. “There was nothing uncertain about what Lancey said: it’s a bloody military operational, Owen!
And what’s Yollands function? What’s incorrect about the place names? ” The audience is made painfully aware of the threads of change will have begun to unravel the lines of communication between peoples countries and language. ” It might be better if you assume they understand you” As the play begins O’Donnell’s school has already lost at least two of its pupils to brewing political unrest as British troops and engineers have begun to conduct an ordinance survey intended to map the landscape for military intelligence and standardise the Gaelic place names in the Kings English.
Only half of the characters speak English, including Manus, Owen and their farther Hugh. The O’Donnell family are the only ones who speak Gaelic. The Entire play is a giant word-game concocted by playwright Friel. Also a supplementary type of change that occurs in Act 1 is the idea of Emigration, Marie one of the forward thinking, positive characters sees that there is no future living in Baile Beag, because the Irish culture is being wiped out and to get far in life you need to progress on and depart from the past. Marie wants to immigrate to USA, “Map of America. (Pause) The passage money came last Friday. ”
Another aspect I am going to look at is the attitude of the characters to change, Firstly I am going to consider Marie’s attitude to change, I think that Friel puts forward that the character of Marie is very positive and that she progresses change by wanting to move to America and start over, a new life and culture.
“There’s ten below me to be raised and no man in the house, what do you suggest? ” Marie has a very powerful status in her society, as she works, she has a confident role in her community; she wants to explore and learn English for that reason does not mind working with the Englishmen coming up to give us a hand”. Suit yourself. The English soldiers below in the tents, they’re v Furthermore Friel shows that Sarah also in her own way progresses some sort of transformation, Sarah’s speech defect is so bad that all her life she has been considered locally to be dumb and she has accepted this; When she wishes to communicate she grunts and makes unintelligible nasal sounds, because she cant speak, she has lost her self-identity, she is treated like a child.
The Audience actually feel a sense of triumph when Sarah, the soulful mute, waiflike student speaks her first, broken sentence. “My name is Sarah” for a few brief moments it seems that any language barrier can be torn down with a little effort and a lot of emotion, but Friel wants the audience to realise that what the Irish Sarah is painstakingly learning will become extinct overnight.
The new National school will bring English to Sarah’s isolated parish, and being ignorant in this new tongue, she will be speechless once again. Her miraculous progress is completely for naught. Also the character of Owen moves forward in life, Owen has left home and is a successful businessman, “We heard stories that you own ten big shops in Dublin-is it true? ” But he returns in the opening scene as a translator for two British officers involved in co-ordinating the ordinance survey.
Friel convinces us of Owens enthusiasm for his new job as translator and assistant on the renaming project while maintaining loyalty to his home village, he doest precisely translate the haughty phrases of the captain to the villages. All these characters Marie, Sarah and Owen are characters in the play that have shown some kind of change. Furthermore there are some characters in ‘translation’ that resist change, that don’t want to progress change because they can see that if they accomplish change then they loose their whole identity.
The first character that resists change is Hugh, The audience can see that Hugh had respect as a teacher before but now he’s lost that self respect due to changes that occur, times are changing, A teacher at a hedge school is not going to be classed as anything when the new National schools come out Friel also shows that all his respect is not lost just because he isn’t valued as superior anymore but also because he has lost respect for himself by being intoxicated all the time, Alcohol gives him self-assurance. Indeed-we then had a few libations to Mark the occasion” Friel also puts forward that Jimmy Jack resists change, he’s so sotted with his Greek and Latin that when he agrees to marry (to Aphrodite) its unclear whether it’s a fantasy or metaphorically he’s speaking. His appearance is both stylish and eloquently old geezer. Jimmy is beyond belief and has a fascinating essence as the somewhat crazy, horny old man who in the end only craves companionship. He doesn’t want to change “That’s it! The flashing-eyed Athene! By God,”
Because then he would not fit in, he can only speak Geek and Latin, he would not fit in to society, and the languages that he can verbalize will be out of date, not needed anymore. Doalty represents typical Irish point of view towards the English, Friel used him as voice of the Irish resistance. The audience can see that he doesn’t like the English invading their close nit community, he shows this when he changes and alters the place names, demanding to mess with the English men’s heads. “Wasting your time. I don’t know a word you’re saying” Bridget to is resistant but is aware of the advantages of he English colonies.
Its easier to stamp out learning than to recall it” By saying this Bridget is saying that more efficient to wipe out culture, than to retain information the ways of living. Evaluation At the end of Act 1 we get the sense that the nature of change, which is the culture and identity. The whole of the nation is changing, and the resisters allow the audience to come to this conclusion. Friels play has become concerned with the problems of language, so much so that they constitute not just a theatre of language but also a theatre about language.
The ordinance Survey, contemporarily described as associating geography with “the history”, the statistics, and the structure physical and social of the countries. Fiel dramatises the alienating effect on Gaelic speaking people of the Gaelic place names being translated into English, or anglicised, by the Ordnance Survey. In fact his was only superficially alienating experience because the Gaelic names, at least for the places in their own direct localities. Something much more alienating happens when the spoken language changes into English, for the characters a whole network of local place names dissolves in a collective amnesia.