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Maire is another character that presents conflict. She hints at future disagreement to come when she hears of the new state school opening at Poll nagCaorach “when it opens, this is finished: nobody’s going to pay to go to a hedge school. ” Its almost as if Maire’s way of life is about to change forever; the educational confliction has come back into play and it would seem the power and size of the state school will crush the small, rural hedge school.
This whole image is full of contrast and confliction, the English empire in Ireland, the big against the small, the educated town against the simple countryman. Maire also highlights confliction for work as she wants Manus to take the new schoolmasters job at Poll nagCaorach but he refuses because he believes his father is going for the same job. Unbeknown to Manus, Maire is looking to the future she can see the hedge school folding, she needs Manus to have a paid job to be her suitor.
Manus on the other hand only sees the confrontation with his father, Hugh, for the job. A small conflict but one that we feel will have tragic consequences for all parties. Doalty is another character who presents conflict, but of a different kind. Doalty is a scruffy local and quite mischievous; moving the soldiers surveying pole to mess up their readings. In contrast to the soldiers who one imagines are crisp, clean, and humourless in their work.
Doalty presents the first physical conflict, “just to indicate a presence.
” our first insight into the conflict between the English soldiers and the local Irishmen. A theme that is furthered by the enquiry of the Donnelly twins, who we are not introduced to but we feel are shady, rebel characters almost the mention of “the Donnelly Twins” conjures up images of conflict between the local men fighting the English soldiers, a theme Friel knows his audience of the 1980’s Ireland will know all too well. Finally the differences in the characters various use of language highlights the underlying friction.
For example, Maire uses colloquial languages, through short sentences which are repetitive and fairly simple, she also tends to ask a lot of questions whereas Jimmy Jack quotes from the myths and legends of ancient Greek and Celtic folklore, ” ‘Autar o ek limenos prosebe-‘ But Ulysses went forth from the harbour and through the woodland….” Here Friel creates conflict in very simplistic terms, through the use of language and the contrasting characters means of expressing themselves.
Friel has created a dramatic world, but only to us the modern reader or viewer, depending on your viewpoint. We forget that this was a reality for a whole country of rural Irish; the small community of Baile Beg could represent any rural community of the time. The whole tale has conflict running throughout, from the obvious English Irish opposition to a whole array of undercurrent conflict. We are left at the entrance of Hugh anticipating a lot more confliction as the play unfolds.
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