Dubliners


Dubliners (1914) by James Joyce Introduction Joyce said that in "Dubliners" his intention was "to write a chapter in the moral history of my country and I chose Dublin for the scene because the city seemed to me the centre of paralysis".The 15 stories which make up the collection are studies on the decay and banality of lower middle-class urban life and the paralysis to which Joyce refers is both intellectual and moral.The characters who appear in the stories lead uneventual and frustrated lives,which are described through carefully chosen detaila.The fact that there is very little action points again to the paralysis and monotony of life in a modern city.The stories are divided into 4 groups.As Joyce explained:"I have tried to present (Dubin's paralysis) under four of its aspects:childhood,adolescence,maturity and public life.The stories are arranged in this order.". The sisters After the race An encounter *** CHILDHOOD The boarding house *** ADOLESCENCE Araby Eveline Two gallants A little cloud Ivy day in the committee room Clay A mother *** PUBLIC LIFE Counterparts *** MATURE LIFE Grace A painful case And then the last story,"The dead",is longer,subtler and it can be cosidered as Joyce's 1st masterpiece. Themes Though,at first glance,the stories seem simply to be realistic,objective descriptions of everyday life,they are psychologically eventful.The psychological action often takes the form of an EPIPHANY in which a commonplace action or object brings a character an unexpected revelation truth and a deep understanding of life. The chief theme whcih holds the 15 stories together is the failure to find a way out from PARALYSIS,both physical and moral,linked to religion,politics and culture.Dublin is the heart of this paralysis and all citizens are victims.The moral center of Dubliners,however,is not paralysis alone but the revelation of paralysis to its victims.Each character comes to a knowledge,an awareness of his own condition and for a moment he's able to see with clarity what is the best way to make all his/her dreams and hopes come true.But each character is always defeated from the environment,which shows to possess more strenght.That's why we have the impression of inactivity,almost immobility.The idea of a moral paralysis is expressed sometimes in terms of physical arrest,in a real weakening of characters' impulse and ability to move far or in the right direction because of their frustation or their complete lack of orientation.Paralysed by boredom and anguish the characters try in vain to escape from the oppressive morale imposed by the materialistic society and they often look for love because love is the right way to escape from solitude and the sense of enclosure they experience. Most of the short stories,though, end with a defeat and a consequential frustration of the character.Very often it's a banal situation,a trivial gesture or sight which cause the self realization of the characters about their no-way-out lives.That sudden awareness is properly called "epiphany",which is exactly "the sudden revelation of a hidden reality thriugh casual words or events".When Joyce's "heroes" realize their condition we become aware that the revelation of Dublin to its citizens reveals our world and ourselves. Characters The characters are also unable to relate successully either to each other or with the world; if Dubliners are paralysed in their relationships, their paralysis is often of a sexual nature. Narrative technique The omniscient narrator and the single point of view are rejected: each story is told from the perspective of a character.Narrated monolgue, in the form of indirect thought and often of free indirect thought,is widely used:it consists in the presentation of the protagonist's thoughts through limited mediation of the narrator and allows the reader to acquire direct knowledge of the character. Language The linguistic register is varied, since the language used in all the stories suits the age,the social class and the role of the characters,though most of the times the language is realistic. Historical hints The series of short stories included in dubliners depict a broken morale in and around the city of Dublin.The early 1900's marked a time of disheartened spirits not only in Dublin but all of Ireland.England still clutched Ireland under its own control, that's the main reason which made citizens bitter and dismayed.It wasn't until 1922 that Ireland freed itself from England.Up until that time,Ireland was occupied and ruled from Britain.The occupation had begun hundreds of years before,but from the end of the 18th century,a distinct Irish nationalism began to evolve.From 1801 onwards,Ireland had no Parliament