How does Friiel use language and stagecraft Essay

Friels main concern, writing in the 1980s, seems to be the struggle for identity. One interpretation of the play is that Irish identity has been continually threatened since 1591. Friel writes his play in 1988 whilst living through Irish civil unrest during the troubles of northern island. By setting making history in 1951, friel is addressing time span and the struggle for identity that he may feel began with the English/Irish power struggle. The book centres on Hugh O’Neil, who is the Earl of Tyrone and at the start of the play is 41 years old. He is described as a ‘ private, sharp minded man’, and he is a good main character because he is an interesting person who has a lot of conflict in his life. Hugh O’Neil changing his accent from English/Irish to Tyrone, is a good use of a languageas he always speaks in an upper-class English accent accept on the occasions specifically scripted. The Tyrone accent usually happens when he is angry about something. ‘ Just to show him I haven’t reverted completely to type- would that be it’, Friel choosing to use this type of lanuguage shows that O’Neil is rebellious and is proud of his irish identity. The arguement between Mary and mabel in the garden shows how Mabels identity and alliegience has changed from English by Irish. This is shown when the two are discussing farming and is asked about the orchards and says ‘No, WE havent’. This use of language shows she conisders herself part of the irish identity. The use of stage craft in this scene shoes the intensity of Mary and Mables conversation ‘ speaks review with concern and passion’. This further highlights the conflict between the English and and Irish and the struggle for Mary to accept Mabels new identity. Mabel and the baby’s death is a signifficant point in the play as it is a metaphor for the inabiliity of England and ireland being able to Co-exist peacefully, as the baby would have had both enlgish and irish blood in him. The timeline from when the audience is first inroduced to hugh and then at the end of the play is a signifficant contrast and change to his identity. The stagecraft used shows this as he is described as being ‘volatile and bitter’ compared to the beginging of the play when he is described as ‘uncharacteristically outgoing and talkative’. Friel and lomabrd are both trying to create history, Friel with the play he wrote and lombard with his Biography of Hugh Oniels life. Lmbard tries to make Hugh appear to be a hero but this displeases hugh as he feels it is not his true identity.’ i dont trust you. i dont trust you to tell the truth’. Each part of the play highlilghts how brian friel has shown the struggle for identity through the use of language and stagecraft. The main use of language that friel has used to convey identity through language is the description of the characters and how each has struggled with thier identity. Potraying the characters in this way is a clever metaphor for the struggles ireland itself has had to go through to keep its identity. The clever use of stage craft and lighting symbolises the struggles ireland have continually faced throughout history. The way Friel describes hugh O’niel in later life, with his declining health and along with Mabel and the baby’s death, symbolises ireland loosing the struggle with england. The use of stage craft at the end of the play where it says ‘O’Neil is now crying. Bring down lights slowly’. is an effective end to the play as it symbolises the end of the struggle between ireland and england.


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