This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Search For Meaning In James Joyce's Dubliners

2437 words - 10 pages

Search for Meaning in James Joyce's Dubliners

Throughout Dubliners James Joyce deliberately effaces the traditional markers of the short story: causality, closure, etc. In doing so, "the novel continually offers up texts which mark their own complexity by highlighting the very thing which traditional realism seeks to conceal: the artifice and insufficiency inherent in a writer's attempt to represent reality.(Seidel 31)" By refusing to take a reductive approach towards the world(s) he presents on the page - to offer up "meaning" or "ending" - Joyce moves the reader into complex and unsettling epistemological and ontological realms. Meaning is no longer unitary and prescriptive, the author will not reveal (read impose) what the story "means" at its close and therefore we can't definitively "know" anything about it. Instead, meaning, like modernism, engenders its own multiplicity in Joyce's works, diffuses into something necessarily plural: meanings. An ontological crisis is inextricable from this crisis of meaning and representation. In Joyce's stories the reader is displaced from her/his traditionally passive role as receptor of the knowledge an author seeks to impart, and "positioned as both reader and writer of text, in some ways playing as integral a part in constructing the work as the author does.(Benstock 17)"

In the novel's opening story, "The Sisters," Joyce elevates this concern with writing "reality" from sub-theme to theme: the story is an extended meditation on textuality just as much as it is the story of a boy and a priest. By beginning with a metatext Joyce brilliantly opens up the entire collection for a different kind of reading, one based on noticing rather than overlooking literature's limitations. With the overt emphasis "The Sisters" places on the crisis of representation Joyce sounds a note which will be repeated again and again in stories like "A Painful Case." By leading with "The Sisters" Joyce deftly urges and warns us to listen closely lest we miss it.

"The Sisters" exemplifies Butler's notion of modernism as the "allusive aesthetic." The title guides us toward one erroneous assumption - this must be a story of women, of family, etc. - while the story itself brings forth another - this, then, is the story of a priest's death, a boy's reaction. Neither is correct, as both are necessarily reductive. The inability of Joyce's story to be summarized, encapsulated, echoes the inability of words themselves to fix meaning, a central preoccupation of "The Sisters." From the first page words fail to contain meaning, they spill over with excess meanings in the form of multiplying allusions, misinterpretations, even betrayals: "He had often said to me: I am not long for this world, and I had thought his words idle. Now I knew they were true." (Joyce 9) This opening passage is crucial in its implications, which pull against the story's overarching theme of the impossibility of "capturing some meaning or truth about...

Find Another Essay On Search for Meaning in James Joyce's Dubliners

James Joyce's Dubliners Essay

1634 words - 7 pages Dubliners In the story Dubliners by James Joyce, he writes about a few different themes, some of these being autonomy, responsibility, light, and dark. The most important of the themes though must be the individual character in the story against the community and the way they see it. I have chosen to take a closer look at “Araby,” “Eveline,” and “The Dead” because the great display of these themes I feel is fascinating. Many

Epiphany in Araby of James Joyce's Dubliners

859 words - 3 pages Araby: An Epiphany         The story, "Araby" in James Joyce's Dubliners presents a flat, rather spatial portrait. The visual and symbolic details embedded in the story, are highly concentrated, and the story culminates in an epiphany. An epiphany is a moment when the essence of a character is revealed , when all the forces that bear on his life converge, and the reader can, in that instant, understand him. "Araby" is centered on an

Two Themes in James Joyce's Dubliners

1302 words - 5 pages Escape Countered by Responsibility: A Comparative Analysis of the Two Themes in Dubliners James Joyce’s Dubliners is a compilation of many short stories put together to convey the problems in Ireland during that time. Many of his characters are searching for some kind of escape from Dublin, and this is a reoccurring theme throughout the stories. In the story “Little Cloud,” the main character, Little Chandler, feels the need for

Fear in James Joyce's Eveline from Dubliners

1489 words - 6 pages her happy. She depends on sniff dust for comfort. Her father's beating determine what kind of day she will have. Frank will take her all away from this. She drowns herself. "She set her white face to him, passive like a helpless animal" (331). Passive Eveline is helpless to herself. Her lack of will and her paralytic being keep her in "dear dirty Dublin". Works Cited: Joyce, James. “Eveline.” Exploring Literature. 2nd ed. Ed. Frank Madden. New York: Longman, 2004.

Obsession in Araby of James Joyce's Dubliners

1110 words - 4 pages Obsession in Araby   In James Joyce’s short story "Araby," the main character is a young boy who confuses obsession with love. This boy thinks he is in love with a young girl, but all of his thoughts, ideas, and actions show that he is merely obsessed. Throughout this short story, there are many examples that show the boy’s obsession for the girl. There is also evidence that shows the boy does not really understand love or all of the

Empty Spaces in James Joyce's Eveline from Dubliners

1116 words - 4 pages Eveline's Empty Spaces   It seems highly appropriate that James Joyce lived in Europe during the time of Cézanne, Seurat, Gauguin, and Matisse; throughout his book Dubliners he sketches his characters in a style that could be characterized as post- impressionist. Rather than smoothly, cleanly outlining and clearly delineating his characters' every feature, Joyce concentrates on hinting at the emotional meanings of his depictions with a

The Portrayal of Women in James Joyce's Dubliners

2629 words - 11 pages fallen about her knees, seemed weary alike of the eyes of strangers and of her master’s hands." (P. 48). Women in Dubliners, in general, fall victim to religious doctrines. They are pious religious believers. Their lives are, to some extent, influenced by their religious beliefs. For example, in A Mother, Mrs. Kearney is very devoted to her religion: "But she never weakened in her religion and…" (P. 135). So does Eveline. In Eveline

Bubbles in James Joyce's Short Story Collection, Dubliners

1008 words - 4 pages fact, the bubble is trapping him and keeping him from fully experiencing his emotions: “Better pass boldly into that other world, in full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age (Joyce, 235).” Virtually every character in the stories of Dubliners has the ability to perceive people and events outside of his or her ‘bubble world’, and most have the opportunity to reach beyond their bubble. However, sadly for the characters, none of them do.

Trapped by Guilt in James Joyce's Eveline from Dubliners

1295 words - 5 pages flat character. He truly loves Eveline, and even in the end when she does not go with him, he still calls out to her.           "Eveline" contains many themes but the central one prevalent throughout is the choices and consequences of life. Everyday, people make decisions, which have an affect on their lives no matter how minute. Eveline must make the decision whether to stay and care for her father and family or to leave and find her own life

James Joyce's The Dead - Gabriel's Search for Self

3611 words - 14 pages Gabriel's Search for Self in The Dead     The study of Gabriel's character is probably one of the most important aims in James Joyce's The Dead1. What shall we think of him? Is the reader supposed to think little of Gabriel or should he/she even feel sorry for him? This insecurity already implies that the reader gets more and more aware that he/she develops ambivalent feeling towards Gabriel and that his character is presented from various

Penelope: In Search of the Feminist in James Joyce's Ulysses

5673 words - 23 pages Penelope: In Search of the Feminist in James Joyce Ulysses is an oeuvre in rebellion against society’s standards of race, class, and religion, against traditional images of sexuality and gender. Its final book, “Penelope,” is a reflection of this rebellion, however its true feminist character has been an issue of contention among critics. A more grounded vision of Joyce’s feminism can be found through an understanding of the two

Similar Essays

Exchanging Love For Death In James Joyce's Eveline From Dubliners

837 words - 3 pages ), Eveline forsakes escape, life, and love for the past, duty, and death. Like many of the stories in Dubliners, moving eastward in "Eveline" is associated with new life. But for Eveline, sailing eastward with Frank is as much an escape as a promise of something better. From the story's opening, she is passive and tired (46) and remembers old neighbors like "the Waters" who have since escaped east "to England" (47). She looks forward to "going

James Joyce's "Dubliners" Essay

1361 words - 5 pages produced by previous generations, its will must reflect the life of the past. Therefore the emotions and actions produced by the city in present inhabitants are repetitive and regressive. James Joyce recognized this pattern and wrote his Dubliners to show this stagnation and paralysis that Dublin spread over its inhabitants. Joyce uses characterization, organization, and setting to promote this theme.The setting of Dubliners is obviously Dublin

James Joyce's The Dubliners Essay

507 words - 2 pages "Epiphany" refers to a showing-forth, a manifestation. For Joyce, however, it means a sudden revelation of the ¡°whatness of a thing¡±. Joyce's tales about Dublin portray impotence, frustration and death. Their meaning is provided not so much by plot but by the epiphanies. Aiming either to illustrate an instant of self-realization in the characters themselves, or to raise the trivial existence of his characters to a level of conscious

James Joyce's "Dubliners" Essay

1130 words - 5 pages James Joyce's "Dubliners" Throughout James Joyce’s “Dubliners” there are four major themes that are all very connected these are regret, realization, self hatred and Moral paralysis, witch is represented with the actual physical paralysis of Father Flynn in “The Sisters”. In this paper I intend to explore the different paths and contours of these themes in the four stories where I think they are most prevalent ,and which I most enjoyed