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Up to act one, Friel presents us with a tight knit and well-bonded community of people. People bonded by their nationality, culture and language. This of course is extremely ironic (Friel uses irony quite heavily in this play, for example the fact that Jimmy-Jack is called the "infant prodigy", he is in-fact in his late sixties. His name indicates that he has always been at the same precocious level of ability and he is unlikely to advance any further), the fact that the whole play is about the English renaming most of Ireland for conveniences sake. Also the English are teaching most of Ireland how to speak English, moving them away from their traditional Gaelic tongue. The English settlers are breaking up the community.
The community, although it is very tight and strongly bound by tradition and family, is also troubled and varied. The potato crop is failing, the maps are being changed for the convenience of the English, people want to move out of Ireland, (for example when Maire tells Hugh she wants to learn English for when she moves to America). Things appear to be at peace when we are put into this environment and everything seems well at first, but as we look further into it we can see things are much more deep seeded and dark than at first glance. For example, Doalty steals a piece of equipment from some English soldiers; this cheeky mischief seems harmless until we hear about some of the English horses being lead off a cliff to their deaths. Nothing is what it seems in this play, there are many more issues that lurk beneath the rather innocent surface of this seemingly simple, rural community; feelings of hatred and betrayal course through the bodies of many of the populous. What the English are doing is not right, nor is it fair. They have no right to change the identity of a people for their own convenience.
Although there are many negative emotions and feelings running through this community, there are also many positive things among the community.
For example Manus is a very down to earth and loving character. He cares for Sarah as if he was her father and talks to her gently and with love, empathy and consideration. "Yes...good...c'mon girl...you can do it....just try..." et cetera. But there are flaws with this relationship also; Manus views Sarah in a very fatherly light, although Sarah does not view Manus like that at all, she gives him flowers and cares for him in a very separate way.
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"Exploring the Community Friel Presents in Act I of "Translations"." 123HelpMe.com. 20 Feb 2020
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Doalty is like a fun pixie, making jokes and mischief. He lightens up the first scene hugely with his friend Bridget. Without them, the first scene would not be as interesting, for example Doalty stealing the English soldier's equipment leads to much hilarity and amusement. Hugh, the schoolmaster, is respected although he never seems to be sober. He has a diminutive and pompous tone and seems to be living very much in his own world, away from the troubles of the world he lives in.