Joyce depicts Dublin as a place of death and paralysis Essay
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Joyce see’s Dublin as being paralysed and dead he blames the British rule and the Cathoic Church for Dublin’s flawed and seedy nation. Joyce see’s Dublin as being full of untrustworthy peope. A lot of characters in his stories are not to be trusted for example: Lennhen and Corley in The Two Gallants and the Peadophile in An Encounter. He felt life in Dublin had many limitations and this frustrated him. Which is why he makes death and paralysis very evident in the stories of The Dubliner’s, possibly to try to identify the cause of Dublin’s paralysis or to offer solutions.
Joyce provides this theory through his use of characters, colours and decay.
Charles Stewart Parnell an Irish MP who led the Irish Parliamentary Party was campaining in the later 19th century to persuade the British parliament to allow Ireland to govern itself (HomeRule.) After his death in 1891 the campaign for Home Rule was weakened severly. That resulted, in Irish political life was without clear direction throughout the 1890’s and the first decade of the 20th century. The lack of political leadership is made apparent in the dubliners by the atmosphere of paralysis which pervades the stories. Ireland was, in the time that the Dubliners was wrote was governed by England.
The British controlled Ireland very strongly and you can see the reference for this in the Two Gallants that Ireland was being prostituted by her English conquerors is an interpretation of the image of the harp being plucked heedlessy for strangers by her master’s hands near the Kildare Street club. The image of an Irish harp with ‘her’ clothes about her ‘knees’. Colonisation had brought about a state of sexual and moral degradation to Ireland. Joyce refers to priests, religous beliefs and spiritual experience appear throughout the stories in the dubliners and paint an unflattering portrait of religion.
In ‘Eveline’ their is a reference to a photo of a priest whose “yellowing photograph hung on the wall” which is Joyce’s use of colour to show the decay of the catholic church in Ireland, Joyce shows us the Catholic Church as corrupt and he paints an unflattering portrait of religion. I am not writing about “The Sisters” however I felt it important to comment about Father Flynn who goes mad in the confessional box, this the first appearnece of Religion and Joyce protrays it as a haunting but incompentant and dangerous component of Dublin life. The Strange man in “An Encounter” wears the same clothing as the priest in “The Sisters”, connecting his lascivous behaviour to the catholic church. The presence of religion suggests that religion traps Dubliners into thinking about their lives after death.
Eveline, in the story that share’s her name, gives up her chance at love by choosing her familiar life over an unknowan adventure, even though her familiar routines are tinged with sadness and abuse. The circularity of these Dubliners’ lives effectively traps them, perventing them from being receptive to new experineces and happines. Eveline has a hard life, caring for her father and family, her father is abusive, the loss of her mother has affected her and the rest of the family. Joyce also tells us that her brother Ernest was also dead and her childhood friend Tizzie Dunn was also dead this is the first mentioning of death, we came across in the books that I have read. Eveline also desires escape, escape from the oppressive, paralysed atmosphere of the city of Dublin.The dusty dirty streets of Dublin.
She is presented with the opporunity to escape. The escape comes from the offer to run away with a man named Frank, with the threat of violence in mind, Eveline agrees to be Frank’s wife in their home in Buenos Aire mean’s “Clean air.” Eveline is trying to escape from Dublin, she is leving the dusty dirty streets of Dublin to go to a place with good clean air, but she can’t actually leave. The dusty Cretanne and her wondering “where did al the dust come from.” The dust may signify the decay of her homelife almost like she can’t get rid of the dust, just like she can’t escape her homelife.Eveline’s decission seems to be straight forward, an abrusive misserable life in Dublin or a new adventurous life in a distant with her boyfriend. However Eveline finds it impossible to leave.
Eveline has lost the ability to believe in and carry through her dream of hope, love and escape, this is due to the environment that she is in .An environment of duty and responsbility and of course guilt for her promise to her dead mother. Her environment as turned her into a helpless animal, which we see at the end of the story “passive, like a helpless animal.” Which tells the reader that her enviromnet has drained her of all her strength and fortitude. She has given up the fight for happiness and just resigned herself to live a life of misery.
Eveline in this story is suffering greatly with paralysis, the way she freezes on the pier, she is emontionless “Her eyes gave him no sign of love or farewell” Joyce gives us the impression that Eveline has almost resigned herself to a life of her mother’s with the only prospect of a “final lunacy awaiting her”(quote from spark notes online). Eveline is helpless to move off the quayside, she can’t pluck up the courage to leave, she remains trapped in her old life, caught in the paralysis of the city.Their is also a reference to religion in “Eveline” when we were told “the priest is in Melbourne now” Poeple were banished to Melbourne for commiting crimes so the priest may have been banished showing corruption in the cathoic church. It coud also be that The priest could have escaped from Dublin life, like Eveline was hoping to do.
Mr James Duffy the main character of ‘a painful case’ is an extermely organised man, he leads a solidary life and is content in doing so. Mr Duffy is also very pompous and self rightous, the evidence for this is during his time spent with Mrs Sincio, he is always trying to teach her about literature and music to better her. His relationship with Mrs Sinnco is a disruption to his orderly life, a situation hev feels he cannot control and that he feels he has to end for fear of change to his life. Joyce’s use of colour in a painful case helps the reader to imangine Mr Duffy’s life. His hazel walking stick, the beer and biscuits he eats, a rotten apple that is yellow and then brown (I feel that the apple is a symbolism of Mr Duffy decayed brown and rotten and unwanted.) , even Mr Duffy’s face is brown, “the brown tint of the Dublin streets.” a symbol of a decaying Mr Duffy and a decaying Dublin.
When Mrs Sinico and Mr Duffy start to meet up enjoying each others company reading, listening to music and talking, Mr Sinico pays no attention to the relationship forming between his wife and Mr Duffy “He had dismissed his wife so sincerly from his gallery of pleasures that he did not suspect anyone else would take an interest in her.” This showed the death of the Sinico marriage they were just co existing together. When Mrs Sinico advances her hand in intimacy to Duffy, but he retreats repulsed by her failure to understand, and he breaks off the relationship. When Mr Duffy is sitting in a cafe four years later and he finds the article called ‘a painful case’ which is on buff coloured paper (a yellowish brown.)
Showing the death of her character, Mr Duffy then began to feel guilt and wonder did his rejection of her four years ago result in her sucide? He automatically turns it around to feel sorry for himself, when really he should be feeling sorry for Mrs Sincio or her family. Joyce as we know from the picture of the priest in Eveline, uses the colour yellow for corruption and brown for death, meaning that she has died a corrupt and weak woman, Mr Duffy also shows digust in her behaviour and her death and digust that he allowed himself to get clost to such a woman.
Then he has a moment when he thinks of her in pity, pity for her loniness, however because of his selfcentred nature he starts to think of his own loniness and realises that he is not content with his hermitic lifestyle to which he has become accustomed to. We know this by his reaction to the couple in the park, who are having sex and making him feel even more alone in the world.He realises that his concern with orderand rectitude shut her out of his life, and this concern stops him from living fully, he is not interested in begining a new phrase in his life, but instead he bitterly accepts his loneliness. Mr Duffy seems incapable of genuine feeling and emotion and this seems to be inpart to blame for his painfull insularity and his obession with his predictable life costs him a golden chance at love and happiness.A painful case ended where it began with Mr Duffy alone.
Corley and Lenehan refuse to grow old in ‘Two Gallants’, trapped in the paralysis that Joyce saw central to Dublin, therefore this story belongs to the adolscent stories of the Dubliners, even though the two are in their thirties. Corley and Lenehan are leeches, to give this story the title two gallants Joyce was using this title as a form of ironry because neither Corley or Lenehan are gallants. (gallants meaning to be brave or herotic.) Corley takes advantage of the women, that he seduces, Lenehan does the same to friends, bartenders and Corley also. Donald Torchiana suggests “that the stroy is on allegorical tale about the Anglo-Irish Ascendency and the culture or parasitiam and exploitation which they bred in Ireland.”
Their is evidence to support this theory, which would be in the referneces to the ascendency in the Kildare Street Club and in place names such as “Shelbourne Hotel.” The girl could be seen as a symbol of Ireland, representing Irelands depraved condition under colonial rule. Ireland is being prosituted by her English conquerors.
This ambiguous connection between Lenehan and the harp is a national reference. When Lenehan enjoys his meal later on in the story his meal has the colours of the Irish flag the green peas and the orange ginger beer symbolishing the flag of Ireland and therefore in Joyce’s view Lenehan is a steorotypical Dubliner. At the start of the story Joyce describes Dublin as having a ‘warm grey evening air’ and ‘a gaily coloured crowd.’ Which Joyce is using colour to show the decay in Dublin the city itself and the people in it. Lenehan and Corley are both spirtualy dead in this story, they are scamming to get what they want, which in my opionion Joyce thought was quite typical of the people of Dublin using betrayel to make money, duping maids into stealing from their employers.
Every main character in the three stories that I choose had deep moral and spritual paralysis and spritual death, with each character having a decision or situation which either inhibitits their well being or self estem and prohibits their ability to move forward. All three stories that I studied didn’t have a happy ending, Joyce saw Dublin to never have a happy ending so he shows this in his stories.
Dubliners are paralysed from acting or living decisively or even consciously. Joyce once told his brother stonislaus ‘the city is suffering from hemiplegia of the will’ (Stuart Gilbert, ed. the letters of James Joyce, Faber 1957.) He also described his intention to write The Dubliners as the desire ‘to betray the soul of the hemiplegia or paralysis which may consider a city.’ The theme of praralysis and death is evident in every story in the Dubliners which I have come to the conclusion that this the way Joyce see’s Dublin as a dead city diseased with paralysis, a city which one would want to escape from.