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Dubliners – Joyces depiction and portrayal of Dublin Essay

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‘He felt how useless it was to struggle against fortune…’ ‘A Little Cloud’

‘There was no doubt about it: if you wanted to succeed you had to go away you could do nothing in Dublin.’ ‘A Little Cloud’

From your reading of ‘Eveline’, ‘Araby’ and ‘A Little Cloud’, write about Joyce’s depiction and portrayal of Dublin in relation to the quotations above.

Dubliners are a group of short stories by James Joyce. The whole series of the Dubliners is based on the city of Dublin and the people who inhabit it. We are studying three of the story’s ‘Araby’, ‘A Little Cloud’ and ‘Eveline’. The tone of the stories are depressing and full of misery.

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In a ‘Little Cloud’ Joyce shows that you can do nothing in Dublin. Joyce presents the character of little chandler as a weak and pathetic character this is shown by the use of the phrase ‘his hands were white and small, his frame was fragile, his voice was quiet.’ Little chandler is visiting his friend Ignatious Gallaher who grew up in Dublin and is a successful journalist this is shown through ‘had become a brilliant figure on the London press.’ Additionally we can see that Gallaher has done well for himself by the place that he wants to meet little chandler. This is highlighted by the phrase ‘he had never been in Corless but he knew the value of the name’, ‘people went there after the theatre to eat oysters and drink liquers’.

Little Chandler’s character shows how Dublin disappoints people constantly. Little Chandler would like to write poetry but he knows that he can’t because he lives in Dublin. He has too many responsibilities like his family and his job. We can see also that Gallaher is having a really exciting time visiting lots of places like Paris and London. He is also making a good name for himself being a journalist in London. We can see that Little Chandler is jealous this is shown by the phrase ‘that was Ignatious Gallaher all out ; and, damn it, you couldn’t but admire him for it’. Additionally we can see that Little Chandler doesn’t have a good relationship with his wife.

This is highlighted through the phrase ‘At first she wanted to take it back’ and ‘she threw the blouse on the table and said it was a regular swindle to charge ten and elevenpence for that dress’. We can see that little Chandler would like to make it as a poet and what we learn is that he always did better in school than Gallaher and yet Gallaher was the one who was better off. This shows his disappointment and how Dublin disappoints and this is why he cannot make it as a poet because of Dublin.

In ‘Eveline’ James Joyce portrays Dublin as a city in which is decaying, poor and hopes and dreams are constantly being ruined. Eveline is a young women who is kept in the city by a bond between her and her mum. This promise was made on her mother’s deathbed. Eveline promised that she would keep the family together no matter what happened. She lives with her father and she has brothers and sisters but they don’t stay with her. She provides the money for the family this is shown through the phrase ‘she always gave her entire wages seven shillings’. She is fed up of this horrible life full of poverty and decay. The only good thing in her life at the moment is a sailor called Frank and sails round the world with the navy. They have been seeing each other and she wants to go with him and live in Buenos Ayres. But we can that it is hard for her to do. We see that Joyce has a lot of resemblance to the character of Eveline she promised her mother on her deathbed and Joyce’s mum wanted him to confess his sins at church on her deathbed.

In ‘Eveline’ we know that she had quite a tough and rough childhood but she loved it this is shown by the use of the phrase ‘the children of the Avenue used to play together in that field’. This shows that her childhood was a good apart from one thing her father was very violent towards her and her brothers this is illustrated in the passage by ‘Keogh the cripple used to keep nix and call out when her father was coming’. But that was when Dublin wasn’t a slum.

I know fro my own knowledge that at that time Dublin boasted the best slums in Europe. We can see how Dublin is a decaying city in the story through the phrase ‘in her nostrils was the odour of dusty cretonne’, ‘inhaling the odour of dusty cretonne’. This shows that it’s all around not just in one spot. Towards the end of the story we realise that she can’t go with Frank to Buenos Ayres because of her promise with her mother she realises this just as she is about to board. She sees how her dad is old and can not look after himself with out her help.

“Araby” is a short story by Joyce that I believe is a reflection of his own life as a boy growing up in Dublin. Joyce portrays the young boy as a narrator; however the narrator seems much more mature then the boy in the story. The story focuses on the boy’s feelings for the girl on North Richmond Street we can see how the story is about disappointment and love and I believe it is a reflection of Joyce’s life and the constant struggle. The boy is obsessed with his friend’s sister he hides in the shadows, peering secluded from a distance trying to spy her “brown figure” this is obviously his first love this is highlighted through the phrase ‘we hid in the shadow until we had seen him safely housed or if Mangan’s sister came out onto the doorstep’.

One day he finally builds up the courage to ask her what she is doing at the weekend we learn that there is a bazaar going on in the city but ‘she could not go, she said, because there would be a retreat in her convent’. The narrator decides that he wants to bring her something back from the bazaar. The boy sees the bazaar at Araby as an opportunity to win her over, as a way to show her that he wants more than a friendship. However, the boy is lost for words to speak. He fantasizes about her, how bringing her a gift from the bazaar will capture her heart. He had promised her a gift and he is annoyed by his uncles late return home and his forgetfulness. This is shown through ‘at nine o clock I heard my uncles latchkey in the halldoor’, ‘I asked him to give me the money to go to the bazaar. He had forgotten’.

Nevertheless, he is undeterred and catches an empty train to the bazaar. He finds it much like North Richmond Street, empty and dark with few people. The young lady at the stall ignores him while she talks with the men. This is shown through the phrase ‘a young lady was talking and laughing with two young gentlemen’. When she finally approaches, he is not certain what he wants. As the woman turns and walks away, he realizes the opportunity of winning his friends sister through gift has slipped. In the end, regret burns in his eyes as the cold grip of reality takes hold of him.

In all of Joyce’s story’s Dublin is always portrayed as place of misery and depression. We see how this is shown through all of Joyce’s story’s. In Eveline we see how she is disappointed by the responsibilities at home and that is the reason she can’t go to Buenos Ayres. In Araby his uncle coming home drunk and not letting him go to the bazaar disappoints the boy. In a little cloud we see how the charcter of little Chandler is constantly being disappointed this is shown by Gallahers success instead of him. Gallaher has made it as a successful journalist and has visited all of these fancy places even though Chandler always used to do better then him at school. Chandler also doesn’t have a very good relationship with his wife and this depresses him. Dublin doesn’t sound like a great place to live or grow up as Joyce depicts it. In conclusion Joyce portrays Dublin as a prison of misery and depression people are trapped and it is a graveyard of ambition.

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