In Brian Friel’s play Translations, Hugh’s character embodies the language struggle that began in Ireland in the 19th century and continues to this day. He can be characterized as a “dynamic” character due to the fact that he changes in a significant way during the play. Through Hugh’s actions and tone of voice, the author uses a “dramatic” method to present the themes of the play.
             In the beginning of the play, Hugh criticizes, labels and rejects the English language. Before starting the lesson, Hugh informs the class that he encountered Captain Lancey, an English soldier, earlier that day. He sarcastically tells the class that the soldier admitted that he did not speak Irish, Latin or Greek. The irony in Hugh’s observation implies that the supposedly “smart” British soldier could only speak one language as opposed to the poor Irish peasants who could speak three languages. Hugh regards English as a language without expression used only for commerce. He concludes his story by telling the class that the English language could never express them (the Irish).
             Maire argues with Hugh that they should all learn to speak English. She repeats what the Liberator, Daniel O’Connor says about the old languages obstructing the path to modernity. By sarcastically addressing the class: “Does she mean that little Kerry politician?” (pg.24), this suggests that Hugh sees himself above politics. Maire goes on explaining more reasons why she wants to learn English. Hugh ignores her and it is clear that this is a discussion he does not wish to engage in. Another example of Hugh’s superior attitude is seen when he informs the class that he was offered a teaching position in the new national school when it opens. Hugh claims to have told Mr. Alexander, “ I thanked him and explained that I could do that only if I were free to run it as I have run this hedge-school for the past thirty-five years [...]” (pg.25). Hugh clai...

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Translations. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 07:51, January 17, 2017, from