Translations by Brian Friel

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Leaving Cert Comparitive study : Translations by Brian Friel

Translations is a three-act play set in the tumultuous nineteenth century country of Ireland. The action takes place in a hedge-school where students are faced with the invasion of English speaking soldiers. One of these soldiers falls in love with an Irish girl and then mysteriously goes missing. The son of the master of the hedge-school is forced to go into hiding to keep from being condemned for the crime, although he is not responsible for the soldier's disappearance. Translations is a play about love, tradition, and the circumstances that force the break with these traditions.


Cares for people at the beginning of the play.
Intelligent and educated.
Runs away at the end.
Lacks ambition and vision.

Friendly with everyone.
Takes Manus' place at the end in caring for Sarah and Hugh. Betrays Ireland with the English.
Ran away for six years, like Manus does at the end.

Wants to learn Irish and understand the people.
Doubts moral validity of what he is doing.
Overly romantic about Ireland and its language.
Cannot face up to authority.

Agrees to help Maire at the end.
Uses Manus and blatantly prefers Owen.
Sometimes pretentious.

Major Areas of Study:

Language and power...

Language and communication...

Language and identity (both cultural and individual)...


Friendship and love...

The past and mythology...


Sample Questions
1.Why do you think that Friel gave his play the title Translations? 2.The play is set in 1833. How does Friel make its themes relevant to a modern day audience? 3.Do you agree that Translations is more concerned with the fate of individuals than the fate of nations? 4."The play is about the characters' search for their true identities." Do you agree?