Translations

by

Brian Friel

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Captain Lancey Character Analysis

Captain Lancey is a middle-aged British soldier and the cartographer for the Ordnance Survey. He is more at ease with maps than people, and initially address the residents of Baile Beag as if they were children. He asks Owen to translate as he makes a grandiose speech about the importance of the mapping project, which he at first presents as somewhat beneficial for the Irish people. Later, however, when Yolland goes missing, Lancey’s tone changes drastically. He asserts British power over Ireland as he tells locals that the soldiers will kill their livestock and evict residents if Yolland is not found within two days.

Captain Lancey Quotes in Translations

The Translations quotes below are all either spoken by Captain Lancey or refer to Captain Lancey. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
All Translation Is Interpretation Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Farrar, Straus and Giroux edition of Translations published in 1995.
Act 1 Quotes

Lancey: His Majesty's government has ordered the first ever comprehensive survey of this entire country — a general triangulation which will embrace detailed hydrographic and topographic information and which will be executed to a scale of six inches to the English mile.

Hugh: (pouring a drink) Excellent - excellent.

Lancey looks at Owen.

Owen: A new map is being made of the whole country.

Lancey looks to Owen: Is that all? Owen smiles reassuringly and indicates to proceed.

Related Characters: Hugh (speaker), Owen (speaker), Captain Lancey (speaker)
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

Manus: And they call you Roland! They both call you Roland!

Owen: Shhhhh. Isn't it ridiculous? They seem to get it wrong from the very beginning — or else they can't pronounce Owen. I was afraid some of you bastards would laugh.

Manus: Aren't you going to tell them?

Owen: Yes - yes - soon - soon.

Manus: But they...

Owen: Easy, man, easy. Owen - Roland - what the hell. It's only a name. It's the same me, isn't it? Well, isn't it?

Related Characters: Manus (speaker), Owen (speaker), Captain Lancey, Lieutenant Yolland
Page Number: 36-37
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 3 Quotes

Owen: How are you? Are you all right?

Sarah nods: Yes.

Don't worry. It will come back to you again.

Sarah shakes her head.

It will. You're upset now. He frightened you. That's all's wrong.

Again Sarah shakes her head, slowly, emphatically, and smiles at Owen. Then she leaves.

Related Characters: Sarah (speaker), Owen (speaker), Captain Lancey
Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:
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Translations PDF

Captain Lancey Character Timeline in Translations

The timeline below shows where the character Captain Lancey appears in Translations. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
All Translation Is Interpretation Theme Icon
Language, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Colonialism and Cultural Imperialism Theme Icon
...the class. He says that on his “perambulations”—which Maire responds means his walk—he met Captain Lancey of the Royal Engineers. Lancey, who is in charge of surveying the area, told Hugh... (full context)
Language, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Colonialism and Cultural Imperialism Theme Icon
...the sappers in charge of re-naming places in Baile Beag. He has also brought Captain Lancey, the British cartographer in charge of the area. (full context)
All Translation Is Interpretation Theme Icon
Colonialism and Cultural Imperialism Theme Icon
Owen returns with the two British soldiers: Captain Lancey, a middle-aged man who seems uneasy around foreigners, and the shy, gangling Lieutenant Yolland, who... (full context)
All Translation Is Interpretation Theme Icon
Language, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Colonialism and Cultural Imperialism Theme Icon
Lancey says that the queen’s government is creating a new comprehensive map of Ireland, complete with... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
Language, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Colonialism and Cultural Imperialism Theme Icon
Yolland again mistakenly calls Owen “Roland” before revealing that Lancey thinks they are not working fast enough, since the sappers leave at the end of... (full context)
All Translation Is Interpretation Theme Icon
Language, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Colonialism and Cultural Imperialism Theme Icon
...from before their father arrives. He also says that while he can understand people like Lancey, people like Yolland confuse him. (full context)
Colonialism and Cultural Imperialism Theme Icon
...girl spat at him yesterday. He asks Owen about the Donnelly twins, whom he says Lancey wants for questioning. Owen nonchalantly responds that the Donnelly twins are great fisherman and probably... (full context)
Language, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
The Limits of Language Theme Icon
Colonialism and Cultural Imperialism Theme Icon
Yolland says Lancey is similar to his own father in that he is meticulous in his dedication to... (full context)
Act 3
The Limits of Language Theme Icon
Colonialism and Cultural Imperialism Theme Icon
...months. Owen says Manus is being stupid and suggests that, by leaving Baile Beag now, Lancey will think he is “involved”—in what it is not yet clear. As such, Owen encourages... (full context)
Colonialism and Cultural Imperialism Theme Icon
...the dance, but they don’t know anything; Owen says he is asking because he knows Lancey will question him once he finds out that Manus has left. Bridget insists she knows... (full context)
All Translation Is Interpretation Theme Icon
Language, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Colonialism and Cultural Imperialism Theme Icon
...that Manus was a fool to leave and that the army will be after him. Lancey enters and tells Owen he will address the class, each member of which must then... (full context)
Language, Culture, and Identity Theme Icon
Colonialism and Cultural Imperialism Theme Icon
Lancey points at Sarah and shouts at her to tell him her name. She tries frantically... (full context)
Colonialism and Cultural Imperialism Theme Icon
...trained army. He says he “might know something” about their whereabouts after Owen talks to Lancey, then he leaves. (full context)