The plays “Translations” and “The Playboy of the Western World” explore themes of oppression and the interaction of the Irish with figures of authority. Their methodologies are different, but each play deals with the consequences of vigilante justice and the rejection of royally imposed codes of law. In each play there is an underlying idea that the law, and those who enforce it, cannot and ought not to be trusted.
Friels masterpiece “Translations” chronicles a 19th century military operation involving the renaming of towns, boroughs, rivers, streams, roads and practically anything in the whole of the nation that has an Irish name. Throughout the play we are made to think that the purpose of the operation is simply for the English to have an easier way to refer to places in Ireland. This is what Owen thinks. However Doalty and Bridget know not to trust the British. They sabotage them at every opportunity. Doalty describes his efforts to thwart the English surveyors. “Anyway, every time theyd stick one of these poles into the ground and move across the bog, Id creep up and shift it twenty or thirty paces to the side?Theyd come
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