‘Friel creates a dramatic world that, from the start, is full of conflict. ‘ To what extent would you consider this an accurate statement? Take as your starting point the opening scene up to the entrance of Hugh. From the very beginning Friel presents us with confliction. Firstly the play examines the impact of political opposition on human relationships, which is evidently going to present conflict. One only needs to focus on the opening scene and examine the setting, to see the friction.
The hedge school is in direct contrast to the established education of the age. We can imagine pupils in England sat at desks in orderly classrooms, in purpose built schools with playgrounds; glass windows, blackboards and numerous teachers covering various subjects. Friel presents us with the harsh reality of rural Irish education of the time, a cowshed littered with farm implements, and yet this is a luxurious step up from the original hedgerows themselves.
This could be seen as conflict of luxuries of education, or simply as a disregard for a human right (to be educated). One starts to feel for those people who have do not have a privileged education, and makes you question how do they stand a chance? All of the characters present in this play are representative of particular views and beliefs, all of characters representing different aspects of the same political process, the transformation of antiquated Gaelic society into modern British colony, this in its self creates conflict.
It is the relationships between these characters, and the various views and positions which they adopt in relation to each other, the produce the tensions and conflicts of the play. One can view conflict in the way we are introduced to Jimmy Jack. He is obviously immersed in the myths and legends of ancient Greek and Celtic folklore. A world of hyperbole and almost perfect beings, yet here he almost does not see the reality of his situation, a filthy, dishevelled and very lonely old man.
There are no “flashing eyed Athene’s ” in his life yet we sense he truly believes there will be. Jimmy is clearly symbolic of the mindset time, trapped in romanticising the past and oblivious partly to the events of the present Conflict is also shown through Sarah, in the form of internal struggle. In the opening scene, she is trying to learn to speak yet she keeps reverting to mime, a process of communication we imagine she has had to use all her life. We are told she is aged anywhere between seventeen to thirty-five which shocks “us” the reader.
This conflict and internal struggle within Sarah, is apparent because she obviously wants to learn to speak and seek attention from Manus. Friel makes one empathize with Sarah, and almost feel pleased as well as we see her producing hidden flowers for the school room or are they for Manus? Once again Friel presents us which conflicting interruptions, which are left for ‘us’ the reader to interpret. Personally, One feels the conflict within Sarah is one of struggle with education and feelings of adoration, which is why she reverts to grunting when Maire, a rival for Manus’ affection, enters.