Why James Joyce Rewrote The Sisters
James Joyce wrote two versions of his short story “The Sisters,” the first one under the pen name of Stephen Daedalus. Both versions tell the story of a boy and a priest, Father Flynn. The latter dies, and the people around him react to the loss. They share memories, they speculate about his morality, and they contemplate sin. The boy had been close with the Father, but he is slightly ambivalent about the death. Joyce’s final version of the story runs completely parallel to the first one, but it contains some major differences. Joyce filled in blanks and elucidated the characters more fully2E The final version of “The Sisters” is a more appropriate note on which to begin The Dubliners. Joyce added several themes that connect this story to the rest. One important addition is the mention of paralysis. Paralysis, an overarching theme of the entire collection, is not nearly as explicit in the original version of this story. Another difference is that, in the final version, the young boy is extremely self-conscious and frustrated. He feels deep anger and irritation easily, and he monitors his behavior constantly for fear of embarrassing himself. Finally, and more generally, the final version is much darker. Joyce chose words to express a sense of fear and haunting. The original version, almost lighthearted, ends on a different note.James Joyce wrote The Dubliners because, as he said, “that city seemed to me the centre of paralysis” (xxxi). In every story, there is a character that is stuck in some way, some in patterns of alcoholism, or in uncomfortable family situations, or impossible love affairs. “The Sisters” is a fitting opening, because in the first paragraph, the narrator contemplates this notion: “Every night as I gazed up at the window I said softly to myself the word paralysis. It had always sounded strangely in my ears…” (1) It is unclear why he thinks about paralysis. The reader is led to believe that the person behind the window is paralyzed because the boy wants “to be nearer to it and to look upon its deadly work” (1). In any case, the mention of paralysis at the beginning of “The Sisters” sets the stage for a grim set of stories. In the original version, Joyce makes no mention of paralysis. Rather, he uses the word “Providence” several times. The element of fear is absent in the original, whereas in the final version the boy is “filled” with fear.From the beginning to the end of The Dubliners, we encounter characters—young and old alike—who feel as though they are under surveillance at all times. From the young boy in “The Sisters” to Gabriel in “The Dead,” there is a bevy of overly self-conscious characters. This boy is not nearly as concerned with his own behavior in the original version as in the final version. When he first returns home, he thinks more about himself than his dead friend. “I knew that I was under observation so I continued eating as if the news had not interested me” (2). And though it does interest him, and he yearns to lash out at Old Cotter for his moral judgment of the late priest, he does not want to make a wrong move or show any emotion. It seems as though he is slightly ashamed or uncomfortable with his relationship with Father Flynn. His self-obsession continues the following day: “I found it strange that neither I nor the day seemed in a mourning mood and I felt even annoyed at discovering in myself a sensation of freedom as if I had been freed from something by his death” (4). The boy thinks only of his own personal reactions, and of the way other people view him. The death is only significant insofar as it affects him. At the memorial service, his Nannie offers him cream crackers. “…but I declined because I thought I would make too much noise eating them” (7). Here again, the death revolves around the boy2E Nobody would notice how much noise he would make eating the crackers, and his rejection of the offer appears rude. The boy also tiptoes into the dead-room so as not to draw attention. Joyce probably added the element of self-consciousness for two reasons. The first is that it creates a link with the other stories, and the other self-conscious characters. There is a fluidity and logic in The Dubliners that would not exist without common threads such as this one. Another reason is that this kind of behavior is typical of childhood. His stories are divided into four categories, and in order to make this one distinctly about childhood, it was necessary to magnify the young and awkward aspects of the boy. In the original version, very little time is spent inside the boy’s head.When the adults discuss Father Flynn, the boy is livid. He wants to interject, but he is too angry. “I crammed my mouth with stirabout for fear I might give utterance to my anger. Tiresome old red-nosed imbecile!” (3) In the original version, the boy does not like Old Cotter, but his criticism never goes further than “tedious.” He sees him more as a distraction. In the final version, Old Cotter has become a menace. The boy feels that Cotter is condescending and obnoxious. This difference is connected with the preceding paragraph about self-consciousness. In order to portray childhood vividly, Joyce showcased the boy’s insecurities and rage. Even though he does not express it or think it, the boy has lost a very close friend, and he is suffering. He expresses his grief as anger in this story.Another difference is the overall somber tone of the final version of “The Sisters.” Through the use of language rather than plot, Joyce achieved a dark and depressing mood. One example occurs at the beginning, as the boy gazes at the window. In the original version, Joyce writes, “As I went home I wondered was that square of window lighted as before, or did it reveal the ceremonious candles in whose light the Christian must take his last sleep.” In the newer version, we have, “If he was dead, I thought, I would see the reflection of candles on the darkened blind for I knew that two candles must be set at the head of a corpse” (1). Joyce employs the word “corpse” more than once in the final version, and it affects the overall tone of the piece. Another example is the haunting presence of Father Flynn, which is much less present in the original. As the boy tries to sleep on the night of Father Flynn’s death in the new version, he describes a grey face following him, trying to speak to him. This is such a dark and scary image that it casts a shadow over the rest of the story. Another word choice that changes the story is the description of the Father’s nostrils. In the original, they are described as “distended.” In the final, they “black cavernous” (6). One final example is the end of the story. Whereas in the original, it ends with the exclamation, “God rest his soul!”, in the revision it ends with the more haunting, “…there was something gone wrong with him…” (10). It is evident that Joyce walked through this story very deliberately with a specific end in mind.James Joyce rewrote “The Sisters” to exhibit the idea of paralysis, to give a stark and more jarring portrayal of childhood, and finally, to alert those reading The Dubliners that they will not encounter a very cheerful group of people in the stories to come. The original version is forgettable. It is a story of a man dying and the subsequent memorial service. The final version is about a boy who loses a close friend, one with possibly questionable morals. It is about the dead priest haunting the boy’s dreams, and images of the priest at the forefront of his young friend’s mind. In this version, there is a distinct sense that people are contemplating their own deaths in light of the priest’s.Works Cited:James Joyce, “Dubliners” c. 1992, Penguin Books
“Respectability and Escape: Unrealized Potential in The Dead”
In the Irish Catholic Society portrayed by James Joyce in Dubliners, the characters live in a world guided by “respectability”, yet some are driven by the urge to escape. Joyce illustrates the reputable populace as false and undesirable, and depicts his protagonists as the few who recognize and attempt to seize opposing views. Nevertheless, in his somewhat pessimistic approach, Joyce concludes each tale with an inevitable resort to the world the characters had wished to escape. Most exemplary of this is “The Dead”, the longest and most multifaceted of all the stories as it could arguably be a culmination of each previous narration. The lone story in the collection with a distinguished ending, “The Dead” confirms that any attempt at escape will be ultimately thwarted at the expense of “respectability,” as his final character, Gabriel Conroy, attempts to abscond, but to no avail.Joyce inserts subtle language of escape throughout the story. When Gabriel Conroy is first introduced, he takes off his goloshes to reveal patent leather shoes. (p.202) This is notable for its reference to both the aspect of escape and the aspect of respectability. Gabriel’s patent leather shoes (shoes are a mode of escape) are covered from the snow by the goloshes. It is interesting to note that the mediums that could bring this man to escape, are “covered” (“respectability”). It is obvious that Gabriel attempts to stray from the typical mindset of the general public, as proven by his newspaper analyses (which earn him the uncoveted title “West Briton” by Miss Ivors (p.216)) and other such depictions of his “open minded”, liberal attitude. (” We usually go to France…to keep in touch with languages and partly for a change'” (p.216)), yet nevertheless, it is Gabriel who insists on the goloshes. ” Goloshes!’ Said Mrs. Conroy. That’s the latest. Whenever it’s wet underfoot I must put on my goloshes. To-night even, he wanted me to put them on…'” (p.205). He demonstrates the goloshes to be the newest thing. ” Goloshes…don’t you know what goloshes are? Gabriel says everyone wears them on the Continent.” (p.205)It seems that it is Gabriel who wants to escape, and yet he is the very person insisting on the “respectability.” He is a man who wears “gilt rimmed glasses” that “screen his restless eyes” (p.203. He is restless and wants to escape, yet even his eyeglasses are covered by “gilt”. (covering made to resemble gold, not even real gold, as if to show that “respectability”, as desirable as it seems, is all a show) His desires to escape are screened by his own ties to “respectability”. When he is nervous or feels out of control in a certain area, he tries to “dispel by arranging his cuffs and the bows of his ties”(p.203) or “pat(s) his tie reassuringly”(p.205). “Respectability” is the protection Gabriel seeks from the very ideas of escape that he espouses.Gabriel’s inexplicable fascination with snow is another tool used by Joyce to create an atmosphere of fruitless escape. “Gabriel’s warm, trembling fingers tapped the cold pane of the window. How cool it must be outside! How pleasant it would be to walk out alone…the snow would be…forming a bright cap on the top…How much more pleasant it would be there than at the suppertable.”(p.218-219). As Gabriel stares from the window (he is inside still, unable to escape outdoors) he is mesmerized by the falling snow. Whether it is to escape the stifling indoors to frolic in the free outside, or even to be like the snow, liberated, emancipated and free falling, Gabriel follows it with wistful eyes. Yet unbeknownst even to him, Gabriel is the very guilty party preventing his own absorption. “He stood there on the mat, scraping the snow from his goloshes…He continued scraping his feet vigorously” (p.201). He attempts to rid himself of this snow (a form of freedom and escape) by scraping it off his shoes (a mode for freedom and escape). These signs of escape are being covered (as “respectability” is just a cover) by goloshes (not real shoes, just a cover for shoes). Eventually, all that remains on him from the unshackled world of snow is a “light fringe … lay like a cape on the shoulders of his overcoat and like toecaps on the toes of his goloshes.” Goloshes are merely shoes which cover other shoes, but by virtue of the fact that they cover, they serve as a division between the shoes ( used to escape) and the snow (which represents escape), to the point of no escape. Gabriel is obviously interested in a world beyond his own, with his talk about travel (” every year I go for a cycling tour with some fellows” ( p.215)) and the constant subtle mentions of horses throughout the story ( the horse named Johnny (p.237), the horse on Winetavern St. (p.245) etc), as both cycles and horses are means of grandiose escape, yet as much as he tries, he remains grounded in the society he attempts to escape. He says he is “sick of my own country! Sick of it!”(p.216)), yet in his own country he remains. The end of the story reconciles the dichotomous nature of Gabriel Conroy. When he hears about his wife Gretta’s first love, Michael Furey, he feels despondent and inadequate because he realizes that Michael Furey has surpassed him in one aspect that Gabriel could not reach. He has escaped. He will constantly remain a mystery to Gretta, and a source of envy to her husband. Gabriel stares at the clothes Gretta has flung on the floor as she sobs on her bed, and her boots catch his eye. “One boot stood upright, its limp upper fallen down: the fellow of it lay upon its side.” (p.254). The boots ( another type of shoes – escape) are lying on the floor in their room, positioned very much like the couple. One like Gabriel, sitting upright, yet feeling helpless, the other like Gretta, lying down upon her side. They (neither the shoes nor the owners) are going nowhere. Gabriel is left to stare in the cheval glass at his “face whose expression always puzzled him when he saw it in the mirror, and his glimmering gilt-rimmed eyeglasses.” He doesn’t know his own face because the person inside who wishes to escape, is shadowed by his outside person who needs to remain, framed by gilt-rimmed glasses. Yet that outside person is still him. His own face is puzzling because of his own dichotomous nature. He cannot escape. Instead he is left to stare out of the window, where he “watched sleepily the [snow]flakes…”(p.255). Thoughts of journeys and newspapers flood his mind, but he stays inside, staring out.The ultimate failure of Gabriel Conroy to escape is thematic of all the stories in Dubliners. Yet while the other stories failed to have concrete endings, leaving the reader to suppose the future, “The Dead” has a definitive ending. The internal references to each of the other stories serve as a conclusion to the entire book. Gabriel Conroy’s continuously upset attempts at escape from the Irish Catholic Society’s “respectability” perhaps mirror all of the other characters throughout the collection, as (like it or not) “respectability” remains the winner in its clash with the dream of escape and freedom.
Disillusionment of Life
In James Joyce’s “Araby”, an arcane glimpse into the life of a young boy is revealed as he passes from a state of naivete into cognizance of his life. We watch as he leads himself through a fateful-ending journey in which he realizes his disillusionment about love, adults and the world he lives in. The boy is a representative of each of us as we mature in our dark and dirty world and discontinue looking at life through rose-colored glass. Joyce incorporates imagery of light and dark in the boy’s journey to reveal how we, like the boy, are disillusioned by the light and upon discovery of the true darkness of our world our innocence is lost.Joyce begins the story by depicting the naïve life that we, as humans, develop our childhood in. By exposing the gloomy and dismal environment that the boy resides in we begin to perceive the narrow-mindedness that we initially have about our own world. The dark surroundings were a comfortable setting to the boy, because it was what he had grown accustomed to and familiar with. He and his friends played in the “dark dripping gardens” (106), along the “dark muddy lanes” (106), and in the town’s shadows with little fear. The darkness and its shadows represent the people of the town who have already experienced the disillusionment. The boys, who are surrounded by the shades of the people, were very much alive and their youth and “glow” (106) tell us that their souls had not yet been suppressed by the ways of the world.This disillusionment is a common deception that a person must face in his life before they awaken to the realization that there is more to his life than what meets the eye. In “Araby,” the boy begins to open to the idea that there might be more than what is in his little world when he caught sight of the sister of his friend, Mangan. He awed at her majestic glow as the light spinned off her and invited him to revere her and her essence. Here the boy began to separate himself subconsciously from his childish nature and inherit the adult attributes of love and adoration that one obtains as he matures.The girl, in his mind, was an object of devotion. The boy began to acquire a false sentiment towards her, as we all often do upon finding our first love, and he developed and idolistic stature of her in his mind. Although he was aware of his feelings for her, he had a hard time just approaching Mangan’s sister, even though she was only a few feet away. Instead, as he gazed at the light, which surrounded the girl, he concealed himself from her view in the comfortable shadows of the night. His retreat imparts the intimidation one faces as he sees everything grand before him, yet is unable to command himself to go forward with the feelings that he is impassioned with. This relinquishment, into his familiarity of the dark, is the first advance towards observing innocence and breaking the barriers that holds one in their sheltered circle.The boy was scared to approach Mangan’s sister because he did not know how to comprehend the emotions of love and sexuality that he was feeling towards her. He desired to go near her, but did not know how he could tell her of his “confused adoration” (107). He expressed this urge that one has to try something new and step outside their naïve comprehension of love when he wandered through the dark drawing room of his house on a dismal and rainy evening. It is here that Joyce unveils the turning point that the boy and a person reach when he decided that he wanted to advance on into the unfamiliar grounds of love.The boy chose to face his friend’s sister and this newfound love with non-seeing eyes. When he went to the back room, where the priest had died, to think about her, “some distant lamp or window gleamed below (him) and (he) was thankful that (he) could see so little. All (his) senses seemed to desire to unveil themselves” (108). Part of the problem of infatuation is that the object of your adoration is unconscious of your existence and his or her significance in your life. It is a form of blindness. The one who is infatuated is blind to the fact that he might not be the center of the other person’s universe. Where as that is often the case, it certainly was in this young boy’s story. So he willed himself not to see because it is necessary for him to be blind so he might experience the exquisite pains of first love. This is all a part of growing up and making personal decisions rather than depending on the advice of others.With a blinded mindset, the boy finally found the courage to speak with Mangan’s sister and he further lost himself in her ardor. In their brief conversation he found out that she desired to go to Araby, a bazaar outside of the town that the boy lived in, but was unable to. He once again wrapped himself up in his own fantasy of love and he didn’t even realize the overtones of envy and bitterness that the girl expressed to him. She said, “It’s well” (108) for him to go to Araby but the boy, being blinded, did not take notice. Instead he attempted to please his idol and win her over by declaring that he would purchase something for her in Araby, a pursuit to buy her love.During the days that laid before his journey to Araby, Joyce divulges the discontent that began to arise as the romantic quest began to take precedence over everyday reality for the boy, destroying his ability to function. In the story the boy began to dread the world that he lived in. He did not care for the things that esteemed him earlier, such as school and studying. His thoughts wandered as he dreamed of the day when he would be able to leave his town and travel to the bazaar. All the actions that he normally performed seemed to be “ugly monotonous child’s play” (109). There is a hint of new understanding here, as the boy seems critical of his past; at the same time he seems to condemn his own feelings, which he still brings together with the “serious work of life (108-109).On the day of his departure, the boy was brimming with pleasured emotions. He could not remain still and paced out his excitement throughout his house. The author shows how one separates from their cognizance as the boy walked through the “empty, gloomy rooms” of his house and he felt relieved at the fact that brighter more inspiring ones awaited him only miles away. His journey was delayed, though, because of the thoughtlessness of his uncle, who arrived home late, drunk, and unconcerned about the anticipated journey of his nephew. As a result the boy is awakened to the disillusionment that the he had acquired about adults thus far in his life.When the boy finally reached Araby it was late and he feared that it would be closed. He entered the gates of the bazaar and found that nearly all of the booths were closed and surrounded in darkness. Araby was not the glamorous and wonderful place that he had imagined it to be. It was as dreary and dark as the town that he lived in. The disillusionment of the market is similar to the consequences that one must faces when the path they choose does not work out as they expected.The boy continued throughout the market, hoping to find something to take back with him to please his love. He examined items at one booth and overheard the conversation between to Englishmen and a woman. He listened to their vulgar banter and was further disappointed by the nature of adults. After a few minutes he decided that his visit was useless, turned to go home and the lights went out, leaving the boy alone in this new world filled with fury of the deception he was led believe about love and life.At this point in his life he “saw” (111) himself and he was totally defeated: his quest had failed and he had not achieved his aim, which was to buy a present for the girl. His infatuation was over and his ego was hurt. He expresses his disgust and disappointment in terms of blindness and insight while he was “Gazing up into the darkness” (111) and saw himself “as a creature derided by vanity” (111). He had sacrificed everything and even ventured into the adult world realizing that it to was not as he expected. The decisions that he made regarding love were not childish ones. He decided to cross the line that separated him from being a child into being an adult, jeopardizing his innocence, all for the vain love of a woman, which turned out to be disillusioned.James Joyce allows us to experience this journey that young boy had to face in “Araby” in attempt to guide us to the realization that we all, at one point in our lives, have been disillusioned by a situation where the end product was not what we had anticipated. We see our lives as dark and boring and desire to go towards the more exhilarating lighted pathway, like the boy, hoping that it will be better than the previous. There is comfort in the familiarity of the norm, but the desire to experience the new always exists. Joyce’s nostalgic lament on innocence lost warns us of the dangers that we may face when taking things on in blind faith and following an unfamiliar lighted pathway. Which pathway we choose is all a part of the decisions that one must face on becoming an adult.
Paralysis and the Need for Escape
James Joyce’s Dubliners is a fearlessly candid portrayal of his native city, providing his readers a glimpse of a “dear dirty Dublin”, and to his countrymen “one good look at themselves”. Joyce’s collection of stories, virtually chronicling the stages of maturation within a human life, depicts the Dubliners as powerless individuals who often contemplate escape, but are chained to a paralyzed Dublin. Through “Araby”, “Eveline”, and “The Boarding House” and the individual psychological, spiritual, and moral paralyses their characters face, we find that it is society and its social mores which imprison and mold the Dubliners into what they should be. As the ‘chronological-periods-of-human-life’ structure of Joyce’s collection and reoccurring paralysis pattern suggests, this societal paralysis transcends and encompasses all, deeming escape unlikely.Joyce’s “Araby” is one of his initial short stories within the progression of Dubliners, and logically begins with a younger protagonist. The nameless young narrator is filled with romantic aspirations for a girl he meets, destined to woo her with some splendorous gift from the upcoming bazaar Araby. Quickly however, we experience through the boy the defined restrictions imposed upon him. Primarily, we find that the bazaar is a rather gaudy representation of his dream. He overhears the conversation among some of the vendors, who are ordinary English women, and the commonplace nature of their talk reminds the boy that regardless of the bazaar, he is still in Dublin. “Observing me the young lady came over and asked me did I wish to buy anything. The tone of her voice was not encouraging; she seemed to have spoken to me out of a sense of duty” (23). Furthermore, although the boy arrives too late to buy anything, he describes his stay as “useless”, and only “to make[his]interest in her [the vendor] wares seem the more real”(23): he cannot afford anything offered. From his modest housing condition and the small sum of money his uncle gives him, we know that their financial situation is tight. Like his fellow poverty-stricken Dubliners, his aspirations come at the expense of his modest means. There are no resources, no opportunities for the people of Dublin to materialize their dreamsnone go beyond a pleasant mental fantasy. His longing for escape is even symbolized by the title “Araby”, representing an exotic, adventurous Arabia. However, the young narrator, a prisoner of his society-imposed poverty, remains fettered to his paralyzed Dublin.Likewise chained to Dublin is the unfortunate character in “Eveline” of the same name. Only nineteen, she has taken on the burden of catering for her family, in the absence of her deceased mother, in an inappreciative and demoralizing environment. On the other hand, she is fiancéed to a good man with a hopeful future who will take her to Buenos Ayres “where he had a home waiting for her” (26). Accordingly, she has every reason to leave for both motive and optimistic alternative, and mulls over it perpetually: “Escape! She must escape! Frank would save her. He would give her life, perhaps love, too. But she wanted to live. Why should she be unhappy? She had a right to happiness” (26). In the moment of her departure with her lover, she experiences a “nausea in her body” (28) and stops. “All the seas of the world tumbled about her heart. He was drawing her into them: he would drown her. She gripped with both hands at the iron railing” (28). She is taken by the psychological paralysis which presides over her conscience and desires. She is physically paralyzed, unable to move forward, to step into another existence that will free her of her oppressive existence in Dublin. She is too scared to leave Ireland, and possibly pressured by the social mores of her society which force her to reassume the role of matron in her household. Regardless of its optimism, she is scared of an uncertain future, and clings to the certain but dismal. Unlike the child in “Araby”, who is too young to escape or to do anything about his poverty, Eveline is given a chance to escape but declines it. Dublin possesses her.If callowness and psychological dilemma and fear were enough for paralysis, the force of moral and societal repercussions are equally if not more powerful in “The Boarding House”. Mr. Doran is trapped and manipulated by Mrs. Mooney into marriage with her daughter, of whom he has had an affair. He finds himself coerced to marry Polly because of the damning consequences news of this affair would have on his reputation and stature in society. “The affair would be sure to be talked of and his employer would be certain to hear of it. Dublin is such a small city: everyone knows everyone else’s businessAll his long years of service gone for nothing! All his industry and diligence thrown away!” (49). His job, his reputation, and his religious guilt from the affair merge to rob him of choice. He does not love her, and insists to “remain free” and “not to marry” (49), but must do so as not to lose face: holy matrimony becomes oppressive societal manipulation. Although he is fully cognizant that “he[is]being had” (49), he is interestingly “thankful at being afforded a loophole of reparation” (49) through marriage to Polly. Social mores end up forcing him into manipulative subjugation. Social mores trap Mr. Doran into how he is supposed to be to live in Dublin. Even a successful, influential businessman is reduced to a helpless prisoner of his society’s moralistic traps. No one is spared of the societal paralysis Dublin imposes upon its people, regardless of maturity or stature.Joyce’s Dubliners suggests that it is the stagnating paralysis of his native Dublin that subjugates and imprisons his people. Through his chronicling of the human progression of life and maturity, and the widespread setbacks of poverty, fear of change, moral obligation, and societal repercussions, Joyce reveals to the reader that paralysis is impartial to age in Dublin: all are victims. However, it is important to ask here, does Joyce simply make a statement towards Dublin’s paralysis, or does he also implore change? Although paralysis seems dismal and uneventful, through the need for escape, Joyce does suggest change and that paralysis need not be permanent. One must break free of the social subjugation Dublin imposes upon them and escape. By escaping societal subjugation, by experiencing the outside world, and then later coming back to Dublin as Joyce does, change is eminent.
The Erotic in Joyce’s Short Stories
It is Joyce’s use of voyeurism that most characterizes the erotic in “The Dead,” “The Boarding House,” “Two Gallants,” and “Araby.” Eroticism is strongly driven by mystery and suspense. By creating a passive individual experiencing sexuality without actual contact, Joyce can use every aspect of that individual’s own perception to paint the ideally charged moment. The voyeur simply watches and waits, desire increasing with avoided consummation. In all four stories, the details, tones, circumstances, imagery and language communicate eroticism by emphasizing this desire. Actual interaction, when it happens, is veiled from the reader, creating a whole separate world in what isn’t told. We see erotic action through imagination, memory or description. The lack of realization and interaction strengthens the erotic by keeping it veiled, creating in inner world we cannot know. The rhythm of Joyce’s cyclical motifs and the sensuality of his visual images create the perfect frame for this sense of recognition and desire without consummation.Joyce tends to occupy more than one consciousness in weaving his narrative (Fisher, in lecture, 10/4/99). Watching and waiting are characteristic of every point of view involved in these stories. In “The Boarding House,” action is motivated entirely through observation. Mrs. Mooney “[notices] that something is going on between Polly and one of the young men,” (Signet Classic, 60) because she is closely watching. Her own emotion and decision to act are driven purely by what she sees between these two people. The reader becomes voyeur as well, switching peepholes almost systematically, and catching three different people in the state of waiting. In “Two Gallants,” the use of watching is more apparent, as the encounter of two lovers is told entirely through the eyes of someone spying on them. Lenahan simply “observe[s] them for a few minutes,” (53) and is affected by the sexuality of their exchange. Once the lovers have disappeared from sight, both the reader and Lenahan are forced to wait.Even when interaction never occurs, the excitement of waiting is achieved through passive eyes. In “Araby,” and “The Dead,” the protagonist is the principle voyeur in strikingly parallel images. Gabriel gazes up at his wife atop a flight of stairs (220) much like the young boy in “Araby” perceives his object of desire, “…her figure defined by the light from the half-open door.” (24) These early erotic moments drive both stories forward, presenting untouched images to be pursued. Both become motifs, appearing again in both stories.Joyce’s use of imagery in setting each scene is full of sensory detail, reminding the reader that erotic observation communicates through every sense. In “The Boarding House,” the scene is set in one such description:”It was a bright Sunday morning of early summer, promising heat, but with a fresh breeze blowing. All the windows of the boarding house were open and the lace curtains ballooned gently towards the street beneath the raised sashes. The belfry of George’s Church sent out constant peals…Breakfast was over in the boarding house and the table…was covered with plates on which lay yellow streaks of eggs with morsels of bacon-fat and bacon-rind.” (60)These sorts of images, tantalizing and palatable, occur throughout Dubliners. In these instances, the reader becomes voyeur, increasingly excited by the vision before them.Joyce further emphasizes the voyeurism of his erotic world with complimentary details. His physical descriptions of people are occupied with body parts and the clothes that cover them. This plays into the mystery and suspense of sexual tension, highlighting the importance of not seeing everything. Each part of the face and the hands are often referred to in every story, in scrutinizing detail. The closer the author lets us look, the more we will desire. A passage from “Two Gallants” is rich with this veiled attention to the body:”Her blue serge skirt was held at the waist by a belt of black leather. The great silver buckle seemed to depress the centre of her body, catching the light stuff of her white blouse like a clip…Lenehan’s eyes noted approvingly her stout muscular body. Frank rude health glowed in her face, on her fat red cheeks and in her unabashed blue eyes.” (52)In this segment, and many like it, the use of “her” rather than a proper name is a significant detail. Joyce uses nameless women to create even less attachment or reciprocity in these erotic encounters. In “Two Gallants” and “Araby,” the girls do not even seem to have names. In “Araby,” the boy claims that “her name was like a summons to all [his] foolish blood,” and that “her name sprang to [his] lips in moments of strange prayers,”(25) without ever disclosing it. This heightens the feeling of mystery by reminding us of what we do not know, and preserving a sense of conscious distance. Even in “The Dead,” throughout Gabriel’s excited observation, Gretta is mostly referred to “she,” and “his wife.” It is here that the use of pronouns stands out most as an intentional stylistic decision. Although Gabriel’s attraction to his wife should be anything but impersonal, Gretta’s erotic pull is stronger when she is something unfamiliar and distant, still waiting to be conquered.The imagery also contains symbolic objects and events. A harp appears in two separate stories. In “Araby,” the reference is relatively explicit, as the young boy imagines “my body was like a harp and her words and gestures were like fingers running upon the wires.” (25) The use of this image is more complex in “Two Gallants,” when Lenahan and Corley pass a harpist in the street. In this sensual passage, the harpist is referred to as “he,” and the instrument as “she.” Joyce, using personification, describes an instrument “heedless that her coverings had fallen about her knees,” thus exposed to all the voyeurs of the street. And by ending the moment with “[t]he notes of the air throbbed deep and full,”(50) Joyce draws attention to the rhythm of eroticism. This rhythm, seen also in the falling snow of “The Dead,” gives hushed time to such sensual encounters. They become more real and believable when they have a heartbeat, and communicate sexuality on a more subconscious level.What Joyce does not tell us is equally important to everything we see, feel, smell, taste and hear in these erotic narratives. It is crucial that the encounters fail in the moments when the boundary between watching and having is crossed. This happens explicitly in “Araby” and “The Dead,” and is characterized specifically by a sudden awakening to reality. The watcher is suddenly no longer occupied by all the sensory pleasure of perceiving his subject. All the gleeful sexuality of “Araby” ends with a moment of self-realization. (30) When the observer becomes aware of himself desiring his object, self-consciousness interrupts the eroticism. In “The Dead,” Gabriel had fantasized about “when they would be alone together,” getting no further than the instant when “she would turn and look at him…”(225) This fantasy is realized later, continuing beyond the watching stage. When Gretta actually turns and approaches, no longer a simple object, her own separate experience becomes half of the moment. Gabriel’s erotic moment comes to an end as “a shameful consciousness of his own person assail[s] him.” (231)This voyeuristic use of the erotic in Dubliners is tied to the nature of the entire book. Joyce is giving us a peephole into his own Dublin, commanding we lose self-consciousness and allow his vision to overtake us. He does not exclude romantic love by this method. On the contrary, this sort of watching creates the ideal situation for romance. In a space where self-consciousness must be abandoned, where fantasies proceed realities, the traditional roles of conquering male and submissive female fit perfectly. Joyce approaches human sexuality with tenderness, but a sense of modern actuality. Mostly, he reminds us that it is our own expectations that cloud the eroticism of the everyday world around us. We will find disappointment and failure by looking in the wrong places for sensual fulfillment, and limiting our sense of the erotic to our own passive perception.
The Erotic in Joyce’s “A Painful Case”
The characters whom inhabit Joyce’s world in “Dubliners,” often have, as Harvard Literature Professor Fischer stated in lecture, a “limited way” of thinking about and understanding themselves and the world around them. Such “determinism,” however, operates not on a broad cultural scale, but works in smaller, more local, more interior and more idiosyncratic ways. That is, the forces which govern Joyce’s characters are not necessarily cultural or socioeconomic in nature, but rather, as Prof. Fischer stated, are “tiny,” and work on a more intimate level. In any case, as a result of such “forces”, these stories often tend to be about something, as Prof. Fischer said, that doesn’t happen, about the “romance of yearning and self-disappointment.” Joyce’s story “A Painful Case” is a perfect example of a story about something that doesn’t happen, and more specifically, about “the romance of yearning.” It is through such yearning, however, and the various “erotic” forms that such yearning takes, that Joyce’s characters are able to transcend the “forces” which govern their lives. In “A Painful Case” the erotic takes on three separate forms: mental, physical, and what I call, “auditory.” Although all three play a role in the story, it is only through “auditory” eroticism that Joyce’s protagonist, Mr. Duffy, comes to experience a moment of “self-transcendence.”While “auditory” eroticism may serve, in the end, as the conduit for Duffy’s self-transformation, initially it is “mental” eroticism that brings together Mr. Duffy and Mrs. Sinico. Joyce writes, “Little by little he (Duffy) entangled his thoughts with hers. He lent her books, provided her with ideas, shared his intellectual life with her. She listened to all” (110). Joyce uses the word “entangled” to frame the “mental” eroticism that he describes. “Entangled” instantly connotes an erotic physical entwining of bodies, but Joyce instead applies it to “thoughts.” Thoughts, rather than bodies, are “entangled,” and their mutual exchange of “ideas” is described as “intercourse.” We are told that “in return” for “theories”, “facts” are “given out” (111). Joyce, by using phrases like “intercourse”, “in return” and “given out,” builds an “erotic” framework” into which he inserts “ideas” and “facts” and theories,” thus reinforcing the notion that the transmission of such “facts” and “theories” must necessarily take on a distinctly erotic dimension. Only two paragraphs later, once Duffy and Mrs. Since become more closely acquainted, does Joyce, nearly verbatim, repeat this sentence, writing: “Little by little, as their thoughts entangled, they spoke of subjects less remote” (111). Notice that whereas before it was Duffy who “entangled his thoughts” with Mrs. Sinico’s, in the second instance a shift occurs in the subject, so now it is “their thoughts” which entangle. In the first instance Duffy plays the typical male role of aggressor; it is he who initiates the “entangling.” In the second, however, the “entangling” is mutual, as suggested by the passive verb tense. Such a shift only takes on significance when we consider the “physical” forms eroticism takes on in “A Painful Case.” The first, and only, instance of actual physical contact comes when Mrs. Sinico loses control of her emotions and “caught up his hand passionately and pressed it to her cheek” (112). In this case it is Mrs. Sinico who acts as the aggressor; it is she who initiates physical intimacy with Duffy. The roles have been reversed; where Duffy played the aggressor in “entangling” his mind with hers, it is she who plays the aggressor in entangling her hand with his.But although Duffy and Mrs. Sinico share “facts” and “ideas” with one another in a “mentally” erotic fashion, they never, through such sharing, are “united.” And when “physical” eroticism is attempted, the two actually separate. Thus it neither through physical, nor mental “eroticism,” but as we shall see, “auditory” eroticism that the two eventually are brought together. The first instance of this occurs when Joyce writes, “The dark discreet room, their isolation, the music that still vibrated in their ears united them” (111). As with the description of “mental eroticism,” (i.e. “thoughts entangling”), Joyce couches “auditory eroticisim” in physically erotic terms as well. It is through sound, in this case “music,” music which we are told “vibrates,” that the two are brought together, “united.” The setting, “a dark discreet room”, the way in which the music is described, “vibrating” and the use of the phrase “united,” all suggest a kind of romantic, physically erotic union. Similarly, Joyce later describes how Duffy “seemed to feel her voice touch his ear…” (118). By describing a voice as “touching” an “ear,” Joyce again suggests a physical act of eroticism. Unlike, however, the “touching of their hands,” which Joyce says Duffy imagines as well, the idea of a “voice touching an ear” suggests not only external “touching”, but because a voice enters one’s body and soul, also connotes images of penetration. A voice, unlike hands, penetrates; committing the most erotic act of all. It is not, however, until the end of the story that we are able to understand not only how “sound” and “voice” functions in a “auditory erotic” fashion, but how such eroticism is responsible for Duffy’s, albeit impermanent, self-transcendence. In a passage which Professor Fischer would label a Joycean “moment” or “unit,” he writes, “He turned his eyes to the grey gleaming river, winding along towards Dublin. Beyond the river he saw a goods train winding out of Kingsbridge Station, like a worm with a fiery head winding through the darkness, obstinately and laboriously. It passed slowly out of sight; but still he heard in his ears the laborious drone of the engine reiterating the syllables of her name.He turned back the way he had come, the rhythm of the engine pounding in his ears. He began to doubt the reality of what memory had told him. He halted under a tree and allowed the rhythm to die away. He could not feel her near him in the darkness nor her voice touch his ear. He waited for some minutes listening. He could hear nothing: the night was perfectly silent. He listened again: perfectly silent. He felt that he was alone” (118). We must first of all treat Joyce’s sexually explicit metaphor of a train as a “worm with a fiery head winding through the darkness.” There are obvious overtly phallic connotations here, and it is this explicitness which is so surprising; Joyce’s tone in this instance differs severely from other erotic moments in the story. While “entangling thoughts” or voices “touching ears” may hold vague erotic undertones, Joyce’s metaphor here is so graphic, so explicit and so overt that it can be read as “cliché.” The idea of a train symbolizing a penis is not, in any way, new. Joyce, then, in another abrupt change of tone, breaks out of his “realism” and tell us that the “drone of the engine” reiterates “the syllables of her name” (118). This is a surreal, magical moment; clearly the drone of the engine wouldn’t, in “real life,” sound her name, but Duffy hears it this way. It is in this moment, when he hears the train and then “hears” her name that “auditory eroticism” is fully realized. That is, Joyce frames the surreal moment in a fully erotic, although cliched, manner: a “worm with a fiery head. This frame suggests that in “hearing” (magically) her name, he thus consummates, sexually, his relationship with her. In this instance “physical hearing” and “magical hearing” become one; he hears her name, and thus he consummates, in his mind, their relationship.Duffy experiences a moment of self-transcendence. He goes outside of, if only for a moment, his own “categories” or ways of thinking and feeling. But what exactly constitute such “categories?” Duffy is a man who would catch “himself listening to the sound of his own voice…He heard the strange impersonal voice which he recognized as his own, insisting on the soul’s incurable loneliness. We cannot give ourselves, it said: we are our own” (112). It is this inexplicable “it,” this “strange impersonal voice,” which he knows is his own yet has no power over, that prevents him from loving, from consummating his love and from giving himself fully to his lover. This is his how he “is,” how his body and brain and soul work. “It” limits what he can feel and do. Thus after having just witnessed “venal and furtive loves” and having felt himself “outcast from life’s feast,” Duffy experiences a transcendent, surreal moment where he, in an erotic and cliched sexual manner, symbolically consummates his relationship with Mrs. Sinico. It is as almost as if her name drowns out his “it.” For an instance he is no longer alone, being joined to his lover in spirit and symbol. Notice, however, that this sentiment almost instantly vanishes. He begins to doubt the “reality” of what just happened, and he allows the rhythm of the engine, “to die away” just as he let her die in real life. Reality and “realism” reassert themselves. In the end, his “it” regains control. The “strange, impersonal voice” which had told him that the soul is always alone, again wins out, and then finally, “He felt that he was alone” (118). But is, in truth, this moment of “self-transcendence,” if it happens at all, not all that glorious or for that matter, enlightening? Joyce’s description of the train is not one framed in glorious terms, but rather with a cliched sexual metaphor. And the sound of the train is described as a “laborious drone,”- not exactly poetic. The ultimate irony here is that while there is a surreal moment of “self-transcendence,” Joyce refuses to poetically beautify such a moment; the train’s sound isn’t “lovely” or “pretty” or “pleasant”, it’s a “laborious drone.” In fact he goes in the opposite direction, intentionally cheapening the moment by employing an explicit, cliched sexual metaphor as a symbol of the consummation of their relationship. Note that the sound which prompts the “self-transcendence” is not her voice “touching” his ear, which is a beautiful and original image, but rather the laborious drone of a symbolically cliched “phallic” train. Thus Joyce refuses to allow this moment of “self-transcendence” to take on poetic dimensions; Duffy may go “outside” of himself here, but, Joyce through the use of a cliched sexual metaphor and drab description of the train’s “drone”, maintains his, as Professor Fischer would say, “scrupulous meanness.” The moment is thus dampened; Duffy’s self-transcendence is not allowed to shine in full poetic fervor and “reality,” although Joyce attempts to escape it, seeps back in through his words and metaphors.
“Excuse Bad Writing Am In Hurry”: Joyce’s Women in Dubliners, Portrait, and Ulysses
Joyce’s depiction of women is characterized by a high degree of literary self-consciousness, perhaps even more so than in the rest of his work. The self-consciousness emerges as an awareness of both genre and linguistic expectations. contrasting highly self-conscious, isolated literary men (or men with literary aspirations) with women who follow more romantic models, even stereotypes. In Dubliners, Joyce utilizes a cliché¤ story of doomed love ending in death-physical or spiritual-in “A Painful Case” and “The Dead.” The former holds far more to these conventions and can be read as a precursor to the more sophisticated techniques in the latter, which draws the reader’s attention to the cliché ¯nly to redirect it. Nevertheless, it is Joyce’s handiwork here, his subversion of genre, that takes the main stage, and the women in the stories do fade into the background. In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, he again literalizes a stereotype, the Madonna/whore binary, showing women as nuns, long-suffering wives, or prostitutes. But this division also serves to highlight one of Stephen Dedalus’s primary battles, between Ireland and exile, family and freedom, which results in a call to writing away from domestic responsibility. Ulysses, and especially “Penelope,” seems to escape these because it is precisely against genre-there was no preexisting “in-bed monologue” genre-but it is the most conscious and critical of feminine linguistic construction. “Female” words (through letters to Bloom) are the constant aural background in Bloom’s mind, but he fixates on them precisely because of their “bad writing” (4.414), as Milly writes to him. Molly has the last word in Ulysses, but it is not so clear who authorizes that word, as we shall see.”A Painful Case” is built on cliché³® The story of a misanthropic bachelor who meets an emotionally frustrated wife, develops a bond, then recoils at intimacy could not be more formulaic; she even dies of “sudden failure of the heart’s action” (114). The irony is clear-the suddenness really took place four years earlier. Joyce wrote Dubliners to appeal to both a mass audience and scholars, and “A Painful Case” seems particularly driven to the popular reader and, with its tale of unrequited love, to female readers. James Duffy is skeptical and irritated by exactly this kind of bland, superficial writing: “She asked him why did he not write out his thoughts. For what, he asked her, with careful scorn. To compete with phrasemongers, incapable of thinking consecutively for sixty seconds? To submit himself to the criticisms of an obtuse middle class which entrusted its morality to policemen and its fine arts to impresarios?” (111) Joyce both launches into self-criticism and evades it; by critiquing the method he employs, he demonstrates a self-awareness that lifts his work beyond this “middle class” production. Duffy, too, practices this self-awareness in conjunction with Joyce. At the end of a token biographical paragraph, all delivered in the third-person past tense, we learn this tidbit: “He had an odd autobiographical habit which led him to compose in his mind from time to time a short sentence about himself containing a subject in the third person and a predicate in the past tense. He never gave alms to beggars and walked firmly, carrying a stout hazel” (108). Just in case the reader doesn’t understand that the first sentence is itself an instance of this habit, Joyce repeats the information with a sentence that typifies this kind of “autobiographical habit,” giving the reader information about a character’s relationship to money and his gait, two cliché³ of fiction. Who, exactly, is writing this paragraph, Joyce or the stifled Duffy who so clearly wants to write? The story continues this self-awareness-the newspaper article telling Duffy of the woman’s death takes up a substantial portion of the text, and is set apart from the rest of the text in its entirety. This unmediated information draws us again into another popular medium that purposely skirts any subjective treatment, just as sentimental fiction has difficulty plunging deep into its characters despite its goal to do just that: “The threadbare phrases, the inane expressions of sympathy, the cautious words of a reporter won over to conceal the details of a commonplace vulgar death attacked his stomach” (115). The story ends with a flood of cliché³ that drown themselves out. Duffy twice considers himself an “outcast from life’s feast” (117). He then sees a train, the vehicle that marked their last meeting and her death, a cliché¤ symbol ever since Anna Karenina of life’s inexorable fate and romantic doom: “It passed slowly out of sight; but still he heard in his ears the laborious drone of the engine reiterating the syllables of her name” (117). This is what Mary Sinico (we only learn of her first name through the newspaper) is reduced to, the mechanical repetition (even “reiterate” is repetitive; “iterate” means “to repeat” without the “re-” prefix) that mimics the mechanical cliché³ Joyce has deployed. She is only sound, not physicality-“she had become a memory” (116)-and this memory is preserved only through the text of the story and its sentimental legacy.In “The Dead,” however, Joyce takes a similar storyline and explores more meaningful connections between music and memory, space and time, exile and patriotism. Greta’s generic love story is lost in the midst of these ideas which preoccupy Gabriel. Gabriel’s position as an outsider looking in is magnified through his linguistic disconnection from his people (later capitalized on by Miss Ivors as she shouts a Gaelic goodbye, “Beannacht libh,” in her final verbal jab at Gabriel); indeed, music and song, two highly mnemonic cultural essentials, are foreign elements to his ears throughout the novella: “Gabriel could not listen while Mary Jane was playing her Academy piece…the piece she was playing had no melody for him” (2014 ). His domain is speech, a far less memorable and emotional medium than music, yet even his poetic allusions, he fears, will fall flat and exaggerate his intellectual separation from the other guests: “He was undecided about the lines from Robert Browning for he feared they would be above the heads of his hearers. Some quotation that they could recognize from Shakespeare or from the Melodies would be better…He had taken up a wrong tone” (2010). The wrong tone is not just in the ostentatious reference, but in the actual currency of the speech, adjectives and transitive verbs over octaves and tonal variations. Even in an old love letter, he acknowledges language’s relative paleness: “Why is it that words like these seem to me so dull and cold? Is it because there is no word tender enough to be your name?” (2030)Muted but lingering music is the untapped reservoir of memory for the characters in “The Dead,” though for Gabriel his words must suffice for harmony: “Like distant music these words that he had written years before were borne towards him from the past” (2030). The absence of music in present-day Dublin hints at the emotional coldness sweeping over the city and its inhabitants. It is an old Irish ballad, The Lass of Aughrim, that triggers the reminiscence of a girlhood love for Gretta. Music’s association with vitality is explicated in her recollection, but phrased ironically to highlight Furey’s death: “He was going to study singing only for his health. He had a very good voice, poor Michael Furey” (2034). Gabriel’s inability to connect on this sonic level is exemplified by one of his literary reviews, recalled just before Aunt Julia restores her own youth through song: “One feels that one is listening to a thought-tormented music” (2018).Gabriel shelters in cramped quarters that oppose the notion of an expansive past: “‘Listening to-night to the names of all those great singers of the past it seemed to me, I must confess, that we were living in a less spacious age. Those days might, without exaggeration, be called spacious days” (2024). In contrast, Gabriel’s earlier positions were confined, as in the small pantry, where even his coat harbors some frigidity from outside: “…a cold fragrant air from out-of-doors escaped from crevices and folds” (2009). It is in these situations that Gabriel cannot reconcile past and present, and he exits the pantry at the end of the party much the same way he entered: “Gabriel advanced from the little pantry, struggling into his overcoat” (2026).Further binaries-cold and hot, soft light and harsh lights-divide the past and present. By the time Gabriel experiences his epiphany, it is clear that it is a “thought-tormented” one, a predictable usurpation of the story’s own narrative “past” that exemplifies his new ambitions to unite past and present. His violent lust preceding the epiphany-“He longed to cry to her from his soul, to crush her body against his, to overmaster her” (2032)-is balanced by his later tears which signify to him his epiphany: “He had never felt like that towards any woman but he knew that such a feeling must be love” (2033). This calibration of feeling is another self-conscious gesture that reminds the reader of the generic implications which mask Greta’s story. She is only the conduit for Gabriel’s epiphany, and her cliché¤ story produces his cliché¤ change; the only part of the story that is not stereotyped is Joyce’s temporal imagery. He, in the end, produces the only substantial and original ideas. The epiphany is the product of self-consciousness-Gabriel finally sees himself through other’s eyes-and is related to the self, not to the catalyzing women. The author-reader relationship functions in the same way; Joyce wants his reader to grow aware of the author’s own self-awareness and through that expand his appreciation of the stories, and Joyce seems to make this easier for his male readership, who are not as likely to be drawn in to the overt sentiment of his stories.This break is more clearly seen in Portrait, which pits the domesticity of family against writing. Joyce made a similar choice in his life, swimming far from his drowning Dublin clan to make his own way in the world. The “narrative,” older Joyce holds an ironic attitude towards the redemptive power of women his younger counterpart esteems them throughout the early part of the novel: “He wanted to meet in the real world the unsubstantial image which his soul so constantly beheld. He did know where to see it or how but a premonition which led him on told him that this image would, without any act of his, encounter him…They would be alone, surrounded by darkness and silence: and in that moment of supreme tenderness he would be transfigured. He would fade into something impalpable under her eyes and then in a moment, he would be transfigured” (54). The purposely unclear pronouns-he meets an image, the two are now a “they,” but “they” are also contradictorily “alone”-underlines that Stephen is not fully looking for a woman so much as himself. His desire to “fade” away under the gaze of the woman is ridiculed by Joyce; though silence will become one of Stephen’s survivalist traits, it is a self-willed silence, not a passive one. The pomposity is quickly met by Joyce’s ironic subversion; Stephen is literally transfigured in the next scene as his family is evicted once again.Later, we are given a description of another passive surrender to a woman, this time in an actual physical encounter: “He closed his eyes, surrendering himself to her, body and mind, conscious of nothing in the world but the dark pressure of her softly parting lips. They pressed upon his brain as though they were the vehicle of a vague speech; and between them he felt an unknown and timid pressure, darker than the swoon of sin, softer than sound or odour” (86). In this supposedly non-conscious state, Stephen’s verbal facilities are highly attuned-the constant alliteration (“vehicle…vague,” “swoon of sin, softer than sound”) alludes to the sonic that displaces the physical; even the “unknown and timid pressure” is an oblique reference to the erection and orgasm through similarly “vague speech” that masks the vulgar physicality with elevated language. The “them” in “between them,” then, may not be Stephen and the woman (who barely carries a name as one of the interchangeable desire-objects Stephen encounters, much like the nearly anonymous Mary Sinico in “A Painful Case”), but the woman’s two “parting lips” (yet another example of verbal ambiguity), which transfer their power to Stephen’s lips and allow him to make the final alliterative rush: the orgasm is replaced by epiphany, the physical explosion by the verbal one. Stephen’s departure sets a course for this sensation away from the earthy, physical shackles of Ireland, and his final diary entry to “O father, old artificer” (219) is to his own father, his country as a paternal figure, and to artifice, to writing.But women receive a voice of their own in Ulysses, or at least in one who comes to speak for all women, flexed “in the attitude of Gea-Tellus” (17.2313). In the two instances of women’s writing, Milly’s and Martha’s letters to Bloom, Joyce condescendingly showcases their weak grasp of language, spelling, and grammar. Nevertheless, their words (especially Martha’s) echo in his head for the remainder of the day, and later Bloom thinks of the ingenuity of Molly’s pun of Ben Dollard’s voice-“a base barreltone” (8.116)-as a clever reworking of Ben’s voice, body, and drinking proclivities. “See? It all works out” (8.123) Bloom tells himself, and us, as a defense of her raw intelligence.That raw intelligence appears unmediated in Molly’s dialogue, but its commitment to paper alone signifies Joyce’s hand. Bound to her room, deprived of the external stimuli that parade through Stephen’s and Bloom’s minds, Molly’s life on June 16th is restricted to a mnemonic and private retelling. She attempts to bridge the chasm between memory and writing by reveling in how Lieutenant Mulvey’s current wife, if she exists, has no idea about their affair twenty years ago “in the sight of the world you might say they could have put an article about it in the Chronicle” (18.829-830). “World” echoes Martha’s mistake in her letter to Bloom-“I called you naughty boy because I do not like that other world. Please tell me what is the real meaning of that word?”-especially since Molly relates the event to a possible newspaper piece; the word creates a world, much as a newspaper informs its readers of current events and thus helps form their conception of the world (5.244-245). Because her secrets exist in the mind and not on paper, Molly sees nothing wrong in withholding them from Bloom-in fact, she takes pleasure from this: “I was thinking of so many things he didnt know of” (18.1582). When Bloom’s mysteries exist on paper, however, the concealment raises her hackles: “Ill see if he has that French letter still in his pocketbook I suppose he thinks I dont know deceitful men all their 20 pockets arent enough for their lies” (18.1235-1237). She is jealous of the palpable and pulped, but her own efforts to write are thwarted. She is certainly a natural storyteller, as when she spins a salacious yarn for an old friend: “I used to tell her a good bit of what went on between us not all but just enough to make her mouth water” (18.214-216). But when trying to relate her feelings after a courtship kiss from Bloom, she says “I couldnt describe it simply it makes you feel like nothing on earth” (18.330-331). The equivocal sentence captures her inarticulacy-either she cannot “describe it simply,” or she “cannot describe it; simply, it makes you feel…” The former falls back on cliché ¤espite her promise of complexity, while the latter accepts her fate of simplistic writing (and both recall the word/world fusion with “on earth”). Molly only aspires to be a muse to Stephen and will not attempt to realize her own potential as a poetess: “they all write about some woman in their poetry well I suppose he wont find many like me where softly sighs of love the light guitar” (18.1333-1335). Even when she does sing, she is only a singer, not a songwriter.Is it truly inarticulacy, the spastic linguistic contortions her mind goes through, that prevents her from writing and makes “Penelope” difficult on the eyes? Molly’s is above all a typographical episode, as evidenced in this line, when Molly discusses her aversion to writing condolence letters: “no stops to say like making a speech your sad bereavement symphathy I always make that mistake and newphew with 2 double yous” (18.729-731)? Why the two crossed-out letters and abbreviated “2,” yet a spelled-out “double you”? As with the final capitalized “Yes,” Joyce is shooting Molly’s words from his can(n)on into eternal by making us aware of their textuality. Molly may only silently pronounce “newphew” in her mind, but Joyce gives us the visual accompaniment. His intervention is one of patriarchal domination, as with his one-to-one codification to female body parts of “Penelope”‘s recurring words “because,” “bottom,” “woman,” and “yes.” The same can be said for Joyce’s puns, but many of his/Molly’s puns attack male aggression: “he was awfully stiff…but I could see him looking very hard at my chest” (18.527, 18.529).In the midst of her period Molly cries out “O Jamesy let me up out of this pooh sweets of sin” (18.1128). It is generally accepted to view this as a call to her creator, but why should she then bring up the pornographic novella “Sweets of Sin”? Joyce knew many would consider Ulysses, and especially “Penelope,” pornography (and perhaps he wanted this), and Molly’s quick connection confirms this view and the literary trappings that accompany it. She at one point wishes she could transcribe her adventures with Bloom: “if I only could remember the 1 half of the things and write a book out of it the works of Master Poldy” (18.579-580). Again, the “1 half” orthography heightens our awareness of the text and, of course, someone has written about Bloom (even if she wrote it, Molly would designate authorship to “Master Poldy,” not to herself). We are reading about him as Molly thinks about him in the present and, most importantly, well after Joyce wrote about him, in the eternal lines of “Penelope.”
Eveline as Ireland: a realistic and symbolic approach
Eveline as Ireland: a realistic and symbolic approachJames Joyce has always been widely regarded as a major exponent of ‘the children of a fragmented, pluralistic, sick, weird period’ as Nietzsche called the artists of the time (Bradbury, p. 7). His career as an artist may be considered a ‘journey from realism to symbolism’ (Daitchies, p. 66) for which he chose Dublin as departure as well as destination. As a result of his desire to exhibit the city’s inhabitants’ suffering, he produced Dubliners. Even though this work was originally created by commission as a collection of short stories to be published in a magazine with the purpose of describing rural Irish life for a general audience, Joyce realized that he could give his stories a unified pattern. Therefore, by giving them an overall purpose he bound them around specific themes, symbols, techniques and even characters. We must bear in mind that Dubliners is the beginning of Joyce’s transition from realism to symbolism, and as such, its structure is partially defined in terms of each technique. The systematic and increasing use of symbols establishes relationships between ‘superficially disparate elements in the stories’, i.e. much of the composition remains invisible until the major symbols in which it defines itself are recognised (Ghiselin p. 101). In so far as Dubliners is a clear example of Joyce’s commencement of the previously mentioned journey, some realistic elements in the stories which intermingle with the symbolic ones are worth mentioning. The characters’ desire to escape and their paralysis weakens their impulse and ability to move forcefully. This inability to act accordingly in response to Dublin-related plights behaves as a realistic as well as a symbolic reference: ‘sheer physical inaction of any kind is a somewhat crude means of indicating moral paralysis’ (Ghiselin pp. 102-103). The seemingly lack of plot is in fact a movement towards an epiphanic revelation of an impasse, ‘a sudden spiritual manifestation, whether in the vulgarity of speech or of gesture’ (Bradbury p. 168) and, unfortunately, the paralysis marking its termination. It is apparent that the author did not try to masquerade the raw reality of Dublin citizens. On the contrary, ‘he wanted to mediate between Ireland and the world, bust mostly to explain Ireland to itself’ (Kiberd p. 334) during a political period which did not grant any hope or choice to its people. In addition, it is worth saying that in every story there appears a patent message: hard as the characters may try to escape from the routine and inertia of their lives, they never manage to do so despite the epiphanic moments of intensity and revelation they experience. Eveline presents a case in point when she isolates herself from the immediate environment and keeps revolving around memories of her life, instead of taking a step forward and coping with the straining situation. Brewster Ghiselin concludes that ‘the unity of Dubliners is realised, finally, in terms of religious images and ideas, most of them distinctively Christian’ (Ghiselin p. 105). Needless to say, epiphany is a transcendental revelation which Joyce actually took from religion an applied to art. Nevertheless, making an alternative interpretation of Joyce’s work, it is the intention of this paper to shade some light on the integration of the stories, though devoting special attention to one of them in particular, in terms of political and social images and ideas as we have taken into consideration that Joyce taps not only into religious images and ideas but also into political and social ones. Consequently, in an ambitious attempt to develop the alternative interpretation introduced above, we have chosen ‘Eveline’ to be analyzed at two distinct levels. On the one hand, we will take the story as the clearest illustration of ‘movements and stases, a system of significant motions, countermotions and arrests’ (Ghiselin p. 103), at a realistic level. On the other hand, at a deeper symbolic level, we will consider the representation of Ireland’s political and social situation in the essence of the protagonist, while alluding to other stories whenever they serve to the purpose. From a rather realistic point of view, paralysis, as a common theme in Dubliners, finds Eveline facing a dilemma: whether to stay home and keep the family together, thus fulfilling her dead mother’s last wish; or to elope with Frank, her lover, to an unknown destination. John Blades argues that Eveline’s inability to react is as extreme as to prevent her from leaving her house in the first place. Such a theory posits that, in fact, Eveline never leaves for the harbour. Therefore, she posts a double-layered example: at a physical as well as at a mental level. Although she lives with a domineering, unfair and abusive father, she is mentally unable to move away from the few warm memories she has from her childhood. Instead of reacting to the dreadful situation she is immersed in, she is frozen by a sudden feeling of fear to the unfamiliar, hence renouncing the possibility of a new life because as she sees it, it may also be a source of danger ‘…All the seas of the world tumbled about her heart. He was drawing her into them: he would drown her. She gripped with both hands at the iron railing.’ (Joyce, p. 34) As a first attempt to disclose the symbolic-realistic analogies we assume there arise throughout ‘Eveline’ we would like to introduce our readers to some parallelisms between the characters in the story and what they actually represent according to our analysis. We aim at claiming that Eveline embodies Ireland; her family, Great Britain; her father, King Edward; her mother, Charles Parnell; her house, Dublin; and Frank, James Joyce. Let us then pay attention to the fact that the protagonist that gives her name to this story is an adolescent. In contrast with an elder England in terms of importance inside Great Britain, Ireland looks like the juvenile sister of the other countries which belong to the same kingdom (or family). It has been largely proved that the youngsters of any family must struggle to make their own way against the benumbing influence of the older generation. ‘‘Eveline’ makes clear how strong the force exerted by the family can be in Dublin home life’ (Blades p. 10). Similarly, we have found it possible to compare her father, who makes her work and keeps her wages, to King Edward and the representatives of Parliament who have been exploiting Ireland by refusing to acknowledge their fight for land and for independence. In addition, Terence Brown describes King Edward as a womanizer: has Eveline’s father also abused her sexually? The answer to this question will remain purposefully silenced by Joyce. ‘… the possibility arises that the young author was playing a mischievous joke in using this name [Eveline] and perhaps implying sexual abuse as a subterranean theme’ (Brown, p. 254). In addition, it will eventually connect with Ireland being portrayed as a feminine character, masterfully depicted in the figure of a harp in ‘Two Gallants’. Not far from the porch of the club a harpist stood in the roadway, playing to a little ring of listeners. He plucked at the wires heedlessly, glancing quickly from time to time at the face of each new-comer and from time to time, wearily also, at the sky. His harp too, heedless that her coverings had fallen about her knees, seemed weary alike of the eyes of strangers and of her master’s hands. (Joyce, p. 48)Traditionally in poetry and ballad, Ireland has not only been symbolised as a harp, but also as an abused or wronged woman, a legendary figure that the tragic narratives of the country’s history has generated. In agreement with Terence Brown once again, we consider that this choice of imagery in texts where women frequently bear the brunt of male oppression in the sexual sphere, provides an equivalent of imperial domination in the political. (Brown, p. xxiv) It also helps link Eveline to Ireland the fact that Joyce openly considers Dublin the clearest example of the paralysis that controls the whole country. As it has been described above, Eveline personifies an excellent example of paralysis herself. Correspondingly, it is precisely Dublin the city from which she cannot escape. Besides, we have also commented on the ambiguous aspect that she might not have left her house to follow Frank to the harbour. ‘Joyce has presented an indicting picture of the city as a prison house, plagued both by desire and inertia.’ (Blade, p. 38) The description of Eveline sitting at the window at the very beginning of the story goes hand in hand with an image of enclosure, at a realistic level; and an allegorical image of the restrictions and fixations of life in Dublin at a symbolic one, especially taking Eveline’s house as the representation of the city itself, so much so when the protagonist is a woman. ‘As individuals and types, women are both disenfranchised and impotent, the limits of their existence determined by man. They are repeatedly depicted as powerless, passive and silent.’ (Blades, p. 48) It is our conviction that apart from being women’s only reality at the time, this description also applies to the helpless submission to the Empire that Joyce criticises about Ireland. An important and influential figure in the story is Eveline’s mother. It is due to her will that the young lady finds it impossible to leave her house. Apparently, it had been her mother’s task to keep the family together until she became insane and died ‘uttering incomprehensible or nonsensical Irish’ (Blades, p. 19) after making her only daughter ‘promise to keep the home together as long as she could’ (Joyce p. 33). By fulfilling her mother’s last wish, Eveline will stay attached to a violent father. At the symbolic level, and taking into consideration another recurrent theme in Dubliners – that of the dead affecting the living – we understand that the dead mother’s wish represents the intention to continue with Charles Parnell’s movement of home rule and religion tolerance. This image reappears in detailed depiction in ‘Ivy Day at the Committee Room’, where Parnell hovers the whole event even after his death. We can also appreciate how the absence of such strong personalities – namely Eveline’s mother and Parnell – exert influence on the behaviour of the ones remaining in this world and at the same time determining their failure at the continuity of their tasks. There is no hope, and those who had created high expectations are now gone, thus reinforcing the stasis of those who have stayed.…and if there are gone beyond recall let us hope, at least, that in gatherings such as this we shall still speak of them with pride and affection, still cherish in our hearts the memory of those dead and gone great ones whose fame the world will not willingly let die. (Gabriel’s speech in ‘The Dead’, Joyce p. 204) Eveline has stayed and she has been left with a dismal legacy: her bleak environment and her weak personality. The fact that Joyce describes an ‘Ireland frozen in servitude’ (Kiberd, p. 334) is clearly mirrored in the hollowness of Eveline’s identity. This uncertainty about her identity corresponds to the quest for national identity that Ireland underwent after Charles Parnell’s death. While Irish citizens struggled to define what it meant to be Irish by trying to reinvigorate the Irish language and culture, we find Eveline babbling in the midst of a decision between abandoning her land and following her desires. The young protagonist of the story is presented with a choice. However, can such a situation be considered an option? In fact, the dilemma she faces is but a choice between two lives of male exploitation, as it is not clear in the story how frank is Frank. ‘The truth is that she needs someone else, now Frank, who could redefine her persona’. (Blades, p. 21) Therefore, we come to our last parallelism, this being Joyce’s presence in the story through Frank. We believe Frank embodies some of Joyce’s ideas since what he does is to encourage Eveline to make a step forward. He takes a risk, he seeks a change of air (suggested by the name of the city he has chosen to depart to) and he is willing to take his lady along with him. It is widely known that Joyce left Ireland together with Nora Barnacle, who was to become his wife later on. This episode in his life can be related to the realistic aspect of his stories since ‘the entangled innocents whom he uses for his heroes are all aspects of his conception of himself’ (Ellmann, p. 176). What is more, Joyce exiled himself from Ireland to seek a change of air as well as Frank. Nevertheless, the fact that Joyce enhanced his life by abandoning his homeland could be equalled to the moment the narrator describes Frank’s departure: ‘He rushed beyond the barrier and called to her to follow. He was shouted at to go on but he still called to her’ (Joyce, p. 34) Nothing else is said about Frank. We do not know what became of him, so is the case with James Joyce. To what extend did Joyce actually part with Ireland? Why did he constantly come back to Dublin in his works? Did he ever succeed in making himself a real exile, rather than just a physical one? All these questions lead us to a final analysis worth mentioning as it is closely connected with the topics developed above. With regards to the intention of this paper, we have explored the characters in the story in relation to their allegorical meaning. The author of Dubliners purportedly selected the characters’ features and their environment, showing no innocence in his choice. Eveline is a perfect depiction of Ireland and all her relationships harmonically fit this country’s relations, except for one character that appears in the last story of the collection. It has been asserted that Joyce added ‘The Dead’ at a later date as an apology for having been so harsh towards Dublin, ‘although he never altered his conviction about the traps and paralysis of Dublin’. (Blades, p. 53) It is in ‘The Dead’ that Eveline’s counterpart appears in order to redeem Ireland. Such a character is Miss Ivors, who represents the Irish Ireland – the independent and self-sufficient nation. Her name could be related to ivy, which leads us directly to ‘Ivy Day in the Committee Room’ – ivy being a symbol of Parnell’s memory. What is more, she does not seem doomed to fall as Eveline is since ‘She signifies a new type of woman. With an independence of mind […] She refuses to be pinned down and eventually escapes from the world of the dead with a sardonic flourish’ (Blades, p. 49). At a symbolic level, Miss Ivors carries a subtle promise for Ireland. As a conclusion, it could be said that a simplistic parallel symbolism cannot be pursued. Therefore, in an attempt to reveal the symbolic meaning behind Joyce’s characters we chose to do so through political and social aspects. Bearing in mind that Dubliners was the author’s transition from realism to symbolism, we consider to have achieved the purpose of exposing the selected characters’ roles as well as their representations.Bibliography: • Joyce, J. (1914). Dubliners. UK: Penguin Books• Brown, T. (1992). In Joyce, J. Dubliners. UK: Penguin Books• Blades, John. How to Study James Joyce. UK: Macmillan• Daitchies, D. ‘Dubliners’. In The Novel and The Modern World. Chicago Press • Ghiselin, Brewster. (1956). ‘The Unity of Dubliners’. In Beja, M. (ed) (1973) James Joyce and a Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. UK: Macmillan • Ellmann, Richard. (1959). ‘The Background of ‘The Dead’’. In Beja, M. (ed) (1973) James Joyce and a Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. UK: Macmillan • Kiberd, D. (1996). Inventing Ireland. The Literature of the Modern Nation. UK: Vintage.• Bradbury, M. (1989).The Modern World. UK Penguin Books.• Woody, T. W. & F. X. Martin (eds) (1984) The Course of Irish History. Cork: The Mercier Press
The New Manly Woman: How Female Strength of Self is Achieved through Expression and Ownership of Sexuality in Joyce
Like character actors or members of an ensemble drama, women are omnipresent in Joyce’s literary corpus. In Dubliners, for example, women are painted and developed within a variety of character framings. The reader is exposed to woman as sister (such as the sisters Moran in “The Dead”), as young girl (Eveline), as ethereal object of a boy’s first affection (like Mangan’s sister in “Araby”), as a not-so-innocent temptress (like Polly in “The Boarding House”), and as a figure devastated by heartache (Mrs. Sinico in “A Painful Case,” perhaps driven to suicide by an unrequited love). Because he follows what appears to be a taxonomy or veritable check-list of female archetypes, Joyce’s representations of women have led feminist critics, such as Suzette Henke and Elaine Unkeless in their work, Women in Joyce, to fault him for his “tendency to interpret women characters symbolically.” Although plentiful, these feminized “hats,” these various personas, are products of interpretation through a masculine lens. They are roles assigned by the dominant male “other,” or character profiles culturally exacted by the larger patriarchal framework at play. As universal images, these women are defined by how they act with or impress upon the men in their lives, sacrificed to their archetypal character function to serve a masculine figure.For instance, Gretta Conroy suffers a profound emotional experience in “The Dead” when she recollects a painful memory, an incidence of lost love, of a cruelly fleeting window for happiness that went unrealized. Because it is so intensely charged with the burning flames of raw emotion, the moment elicits in the reader an immediate vicarious reaction paralleling Gretta’s profound despondency. However, this intimate insight into Gretta’s past, a chapter in the story of her development, is usurped by her husband, Gabriel. No longer an extension or defining event of her personhood, Gretta’s memory is purged of its sentimental significance as it relates to her. Rather, her surprising disclosure, as co-opted by her male counterpart, is reworked into a tool for his benefit, a revelation that launches his epiphany. The focus of the story and of the reader’s primary attention shifts from Gretta towards Gabriel, towards concerns for the possibility of his newfound personal growth, or for the tragic continuation of his emotional paralysis. As a result of this process, Gretta’s identity is effaced; removed from the context provided by her husband, she is a non-entity. However, it is my contention that not all of Joyce’s female characters fall victim to this symbolic representation. In the works of James Joyce, the woman makes her greatest impression, where a reader is impacted more by her unique and authentic interiority, once she connects to and fully embraces her sexuality. If we trace Joyce’s character trajectory from an early figure such as Eveline, a girl frozen in a state of stunted personal, sexual and emotional growth, through to his epic novel Ulysses and its concluding voice in Molly Bloom, we begin to see a correlation between expression and ownership of one’s sexual nature, and the development of a distinct and powerful feminine personality. In her eponymous episode in Dubliners, Eveline suffers from a sense of identity compromised by the suppression of a burgeoning sexuality. Eveline is a kind of mini-tragedy of the fully-realized individual. Solidity and stability do not yet exist with the sinews of Eveline’s interiority. She has not yet had the chance to be touched by the potent balm of life’s experiences, both by the good and the bad, the bitter and the sweet. Like healing waters, both the exciting rewards and painful disappointments inherent to risk-taking would wash over Eveline were she ever to take a leap into the unknown, mending her fractured interior, and adding substance to her being. A blank host, she has internalized the expectations imposed upon her by the patriarchal social context of her time and place. She has been forced to assume the role of the household matriarch upon the death of her mother, attending to the needs of her demanding younger siblings. She has been relegated to a typical profession, a fixture of Dublin society, and her position as a shop-girl offers her little in the way of gratification or stimulation: “she would not cry many tears at leaving the Stores.” Ready now to challenge the confines of this cookie-cutter life, this crippling existence, she is daring to explore “another life with Frank,” her lover. Eveline is a girl on the verge of womanhood, on the threshold of defining and coming into her adult persona. In Frank and the life he would surely provide, in these symbols of new possibilities, of rebirth and liberation, lie the keys to Eveline discovering her authentic self. She was initially drawn to Frank because he presented a welcomed departure from the consuming staleness of her home-life. She saw in him something mysterious, something alluring and exhilarating in being so alien: First of all it had been an excitement for her to have a fellow and then she had begun to like him. He had tales of distant countries….He took her to see The Bohemian Girl and she felt elated as she sat in an unaccustomed part of the theater with him. Perhaps Eveline had aspirations of becoming Frank’s “Bohemian Girl,” of discovering other “unaccustomed parts” of the greater, cosmopolitan world lying just beyond the Liffey River. However, at the crucial moment of action, of movement forward, Eveline retreats, gripped by her paralysis. She does not board the ship from Dublin, headed towards Buenos Aires, the “good air” city symbolizing hope and optimism. She does not honor the genuine desires Frank has stirred within her. Ironically, she inverts his image: once regarding him as her savior, Eveline beings to describe him as an agent of death and destruction: “All the seas of the world tumbled about her heart. He was drawing her into them: he would drown her.” She verbally contradicts herself in other ways, betraying her anxious state of indecision and uncertainty. For example, the current life of mundane domesticity and hard work she so derided earlier starts to seem comforting in its familiarity: “It was a hard life…but now that she was about to leave it she did not find it a wholly undesirable life.” Accounting for this difference in attitude is a toxic mix of panic, ambivalence, nervousness and guilt, as leveraged upon her by the tacit expectations of her sociopolitical environment. This cocktail of fears—a fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of sexual independence—poisons Eveline’s budding development from within. The new emotions and urges Frank has triggered, the way Eveline has found herself “pleasantly confused” in his presence, are at once exciting and threatening, thrilling and unsettling. Because her opportunity to grow into a more secure, more fully-developed individual is occurring at this crossroads of sexual maturity, it is the very suppression or denial of her sexuality that confers upon Eveline a fractured identity, thwarting her from achieving freedom and wholeness of personhood. In order for Eveline to seriously regard herself as a sexual being, as a woman, she would have to define herself as an entity separate from her family unit. She would finally detach herself from the obligations associated with the haunting memory of her dying mother, from an archaic and obsolete promise to maintain the household in her stead. Eveline would finally defy the strict authority of her father, who “had found our the affair [with Frank] and had forbidden her to have anything to say to him.” Therefore, because she cannot honor her sexual feelings for Frank, acknowledge and use them as motivation towards change, she has no basis upon which to build her true self. Eveline’s insecurity, the socially constructed gender role that she both resents and preserves, obfuscates her ability to embrace the “specialization” of her identity as marked by her growing sexual nature. As a tragic consequence, she is locked, paralyzed, into a “symbolic” mode of identification. Because she does not express or connect to her sexuality, she will never break free from a representative existence. However, for a woman to fully own her genuine sexuality, she needs to do more than simply behave in a sexual manner. As illustrated by the prostitutes in Ulysses, the overt, pointed display of one’s sexual “disposition,” although in opposition to Eveline’s restraint, still fails to contribute to the cultivation of an achieved self. In his epic Ulysses, most particularly the “Circe” chapter, James Joyce explores another dimension of the female-character profile. If Eveline is the symbolic virgin in her representation as a perpetual shop-girl, the prostitutes of Nighttown are the shop-girls gone astray. Another line-item in the taxonomy of the female archetype, these women are operating on the other end of the sexual spectrum. Figures such as Zoe Higgins, Florry Talbot and Kitty Ricketts are ostensible masters of their own bodies, aware and accepting of themselves as sexual creatures. They are well-versed in the explicit language of the vulgar, obscene sex associated with the brothel. Zoe speaks to Leopold Bloom in this manner, asking him “How’s the nuts”, or saying to him when he decides to abstain from the carnal pleasure she is offering: Honest? Till the next time. Suppose you got up the wrong side of the bed or came too quick with your best girl. O, I can read your thoughts! She is bold in her sexual conduct with Bloom: she “bites his ear gently,” “glides [her hand] near his left thigh,” and “links his arm, cuddling him with supple warmth.” However, brazen sexual behavior does not necessarily engender the construction of a complete, independent woman. For these girls, their sexuality is still in possession of the male other, defined and structured through a masculine viewpoint. It is leveraged as a tool still outside the woman herself. The whore is not a person. She is, as Bloom states, “a necessary evil,” both valued and derided as currency to be used in the transactions and negotiations of the male world of sexual commodification. Clearly objectified, putty to be manipulated in the image of the patriarchy, the women of Nighttown do not own their sexuality because they do not pick and choose when to exercise it, or discriminately select with whom to share their bodies. They are locked into a job, the “world’s oldest profession,” where sex is simply a means by which to earn a living. Sexuality is not an expression of individualism and is not incorporated into a profile of self-identity. Here, sexuality is merely a strategy for survival. For the prostitutes of Circe, their identities are lost to their positions as pawns (as opposed to the designers or premium-setters) of a lucrative marketplace. Zoe, Florry, Kitty, and the stereotyped female they represent, are not figures of sexual liberation. Ironically, the one female character within Circe who is granted sexual freedom, or the ability to dominate and have her needs served, is Bella Cohen, the head mistress of the brothel. Although a participant in a sexualized economy, Bella is not hocking her own market goods. Rather, she is framed within a masculine context as regulator, as administrator, of this trade. Therefore, Bella is a non-womanly woman, a point reinforced by the fact that she is transformed into a man during one of Leopold Bloom’s hallucinatory episodes. As Bello Cohen, Bella is privileged with the freedom to be sexually demanding, to play with her sexuality and wield it to gratify her/his inner desires. S/he is master, dominator, within the sexual exchange, and as the feminized-male, Bloom fills the “submissive” role. In this way, Bella is not gendered as “female” and is not subject to the same character expectations–she need not conform to the same patriarchal standards–as the prostitutes she oversees. Only through the form of a male, stripped of her feminine trappings and her identity thusly compromised, can Bella/o claim ownership of sexuality. Because the prostitutes of Circe do not reconcile their sexuality with their femininity, because they are simply performing the part of a sexualized object in order to satisfy a socially-mandated obligation, their chances of forming a fully-achieved self are fatally limited.The portrayals of female archetypes in Dubliners and Ulysses, such as Eveline and the ladies of Nighttown, highlight the importance of perception in the process of shaping and establishing identity. As defined by the dominant-male critical lens, the “female” is simply a by-product of ideology. The reader is given very little of her interior monologue, and, when inner thoughts are revealed (as in the case of Eveline), they so closely echo patriarchal beliefs that they read like a soundtrack to a social context rather than the genuine expression of desire and emotion. In Ulysses, settings and situations are skewed masculine, the majority of the “action” of the narrative occurring in the male arena, in such distinctly-gendered microcosms as a bar (the sphere of leisure), a frantic newspaper office (the sphere of the workplace), a car filled exclusively with men (the sphere of community), and a late-night brothel (the spheres of commodification, economy, and sex combined). Because the inner thoughts of the Circe girls remain silent and hidden, the only powerful statements they make, the only character framings available to the reader, are dictated by the impressions of the male-other. There is no opportunity or room allotted for the development of the authentic female-self because we, as audience members, are being offered a character projection, rather than a fleshed-out portrait. It is not until the reader can view, or experience, a Joycean woman from the inside out that interiority is established. It is not until we are witness to thoughts and opinions so outside the confines of social acceptability that their very incongruity arouses surprise, that we come to regard an inner monologue as honest and true. As soon as the window of perception is given over to the female, sexuality becomes integrated with personhood. Master and sole owner of her sexual nature, this “new manly woman” is so confident in her possession that she carves and reinforces the strength of her own identity, as best exemplified by Molly Bloom and the “Penelope” chapter of Ulysses.Within the “realm of the masculine” that functions like a textual backdrop for the course of the novel, the reader is initially limited to an understanding of Molly as sex incarnate. She is introduced to the reader as a figure comfortably sprawled out in her bed, a clear symbol of sexual intercourse. Because Bloom associates sounds resembling the way “the loose brass quoits of the bedstead jingled,” such as the “jingle of harnesses” (which causes “a warm human plumpness” to settle “down on his brain” ) or the “jingling, hoofhuds” heard on Grafton Street, with Molly, her very character becomes fused with “bed” imagery. Because the figure of “Molly-in-bed” is so pervasive in Bloom’s thoughts, and because his is at least the co-dominant perspective though which the novel is being filtered, this sexually-charged presentation becomes Molly’s defining schema. The impressions of the various characters, a veritable motley crew of men, work in tandem with each other to reinforce this biased, male-sexualized picture of Molly Bloom. In Book 10, Lenehan recalls a memorable moment with Molly. Driving with her and Leopold after a dinner affair, Lenehan was all too excited to be in close quarters with the voluptuous Molly. Lenehan’s dialogue and gestures clearly indicate that he regards Molly as an object, and that her value rests in the arousal-potential of her bodily goods: Every jolt the bloody car gave I had her bumping up against me. Hell’s delights! She has a fine pair, God bless her. Like that. He held his caved hands a cubit from Him, frowning: I was tucking the rug under her and settling her boa all the time. Know what I mean? His hands moulded ample curves of air. He shut his eyes tight in delight, his body shrinking, and blew a sweet chirp from his lips. She’s a gamey mare and no mistake. Lenehan is one of many men to be “lost” or enraptured of Molly’s “milky way.” The nameless Citizen of the “Cyclops” chapter, for example, also comments on her physicality, cementing her identity as an almost pornographic object d’art: “The fat heap he (Bloom) married is a nice old phenomenon with a back on her like a ballalley.” However, Molly Bloom shatters the glass cage of female archetype to which her male spectators would have her relegated, to which her literary predecessors have been consigned, precisely because she asserts what her counterparts fundamentally lacked. Although she is spoken about like a play-thing, like fodder for the benefit and arousal of men, Molly is no object. She is not an empty vessel for the perpetuation of traditional gender roles, or a tool in service of the dominant male. Hers is a self-concept that is motivated from within, and not conditioned by patriarchal ideals, as marked by a potent sexual awareness and freedom of expression. Molly is aware of the effect she has on men, and is a conscious, autonomous, equal participant in the ongoing sexual-power game. She has had enough experience with men to know the way they think, act and feel when in the throes of sexual desire, and has developed an arsenal of her own tricks to heighten their arousal. Her “intelligence a kind of cunning and intuition that can see through the pretensions of men,” she is wise to the games they play, because she engages in similar sexual strategies. For example, as she figures to herself during her wonderfully intimate and revealing soliloquy at the end of the novel:….you want to feel your way with a man they’re not all like him (Boylan) thank God some of them want you to be so nice about it I noticed the contrast he does it and doesnt talk I gave my eyes that look with my hair a bit loose from the tumbling and my tongue between my lips up to him the savage brute… Molly is open with herself about the enjoyment she gleans from sexual encounters with men, and is unapologetic about her behavior and her need for sex, as suggested by the candid, blatant manner in which she recalls her experiences:I wish he (Boylan) was here or somebody to let myself go with and come again like that I feel all fire inside of me or if I could dream it when he made me spend the 2nd time tickling me behind with his finger I was coming for about 5 minutes with my legs round him I had to hug him after(.) Molly can pick and choose when to assert, or exert, her sexuality–she can be fun and playful with this side of herself. She does not need to perform sexual acts out of obligation, locked into it as a “profession” the way the prostitutes of Circe are, or helplessly, slavishly adhering to the demands of a particular social paradigm. Rather, sexuality is an extension, a reflection, of Molly’s complex, multi-dimensional interiority. It is the outlet through which Molly’s distinct identity comes flooding though, for it is the one exercise of personhood that most particularly attends to her genuine interests and desires. Critics have argued that Molly is herself a stereotype of female sexuality, a projection of a male fantasy describing the seductive, sexually-voracious woman. For example, Bruce Williams, in his article, “Molly Bloom: Archetype or Stereotype,” writes:Molly Bloom is the embodiment not of what woman is, but of what man, at least in a sexist society, would like her to be–a warm body lying in bed and moaning “yes.” She represents a kind of wishful thinking that men do when confronted withthe disturbing facts of woman’s humanity to convince themselves that humanity is peripheral and not essentially “feminine.” Joyce has created not so much a real woman…as he has a reflection of a thousand smoking car stories. Molly is the perennial masculine fantasy, the insatiable woman–the sexual gold mine waiting only for the lucky prospector to sink his shaft. However, I believe that Molly does indeed demonstrate a well-delineated humanity and multi-layered character. Because she does not embody singular traits, because she does not simply capture the extremes reinforced by female stereotypes, Molly is not someone the reader can easily dismiss. The words (or thoughts) she is voicing are original, and legitimated by sobering wisdom and heartfelt emotion. A palpable sincerity runs like an undercurrent through the deluge that is her final “sexual soliloquy,” conferring a hefty significance to her experiences and muting the hyperbole of her overt sexual expressions. In this way, Molly avoids the pitfall of becoming a caricature, the silly, substance-less image of her male companions’ boastful recollections. For example, she wonders: (…) why can’t you kiss a man without going and marrying him first you sometimes love to wildly when you feel that way so nice all over you you cant help yourself I wish some man or other would take me sometimes when hes there and kiss me in his arms theres nothing like a kiss long and hot down to your soul almost paralyzes you then(.) While acutely aware of the way in which men objectify her, Molly is not complacent playing into this subordinated role when she truly cares, when it is more than her body that is invested in the relationship. She confesses that she was disappointed when Boylan treated her in this crude way, for she “didn’t like his slapping (her) behind going away so familiarly in the hall,” and insists that she is “not a horse or an ass.” Longing and anguish stir beneath Molly’s hypersexual exterior; Molly needs her heartstrings to be soothed as much as she requires gratification of the flesh. Although her attitude towards the men that have mattered to her most, that have moved her to cry “yes I said yes I will Yes” may have been “as well him as another,” she is not as random, as unfeeling and arbitrary, as this sentiment ostensibly suggests. For companionship, whether lasting or brief, Molly has had her pick from a smattering of men; she is the seat of power in the sexual dynamic. Nevertheless, Molly is discriminate in her choices. There is a reason why she married Bloom, there is a reason why she has decided to commit adultery, although perhaps presented with the option in the past, with Boylan. Ultimately, those reasons are Molly’s and Molly’s alone. She embraces her sexuality, and her sexual behavior reflects a rich, tightly-woven (as oppose to frayed) interior tapestry not seen in previous portrayals of Joycean women. Although working within a clearly-defined social paradigm, Molly is relentless in asserting her uniqueness. It is her very connection and complete ownership of her sexual nature that allows her to achieve a fully-formed sense of self. With the conclusion of Ulysses, because Joyce decides to give Molly, his most sexually mature female character, the final word, one is left with an impression of this figure. Her words resonate, finding rhythms and expressing emotions firmly locked within the psyche of the every-reader. As a result, she insinuates herself into the collective consciousness of a readership, her identity so developed, so alluring, that we are compelled to keep her safely tucked in the recesses of our memory and imagination. As evidenced by the progression in character portrayal from the “primordially” feminine Eveline, through to the more robust, self-assured Molly Bloom, the female in Joyce transcends archetype once she acknowledges, expresses, and unapologetically affirms full ownership of her inner sexual nature. She is complete, whole, individualized, once she reconciles her sexuality with the rest of her person. Not only does she not suppress her sexuality, denying its presence or keeping herself from developing it out of fear and guilt, she is also not simply overtly sexual. Like Molly, she must remain master of her sexuality, able to use it as a tool or force to effect change and fulfill desire, at her own discretion. Accessory to no one, defined not by contextual framing but by inner desires and motivations, the achieved woman in Joyce is one who can play with her sexuality and adjust the volume controls at will. She owns it not only because she can sell it, but because she uses it while simultaneously exhibiting additional aspects of her person. Her sexual nature is not a mask, but a part of who she is. Her sexual nature is a core defining–but not sole–characteristic that imparts on the Joycean woman a self-awareness essential to the continuing development of a nuanced, female identity.
Hardly Joyous: Servitude in Hardy and Joyce
Both James Joyce’s Eveline and Thomas Hardy’s The Son’s Veto express the negative effects that service has upon an individual’s life. While Joyce uses an intimate obligation, a promise to a dying mother, Hardy’s story addresses a wider cultural restriction that is created by social class systems. This paper will explore the disdain felt by both authors towards the obligation of an individual to serve others. Both stories contain a crippling of sorts. The Son’s Veto centers on a woman, Sophy, who, while dutifully serving the vicar, Mr. Twycott, injures her ankle and has her mobility restricted for life. “Since she was forbidden to walk and bustle about, and indeed, could not do so, it became her duty to leave” (616) Her injury is not discussed with compassion at first. It is her duty to leave. Hardy’s language depicts service to the house before consideration of such social compassion as asking for a form of worker’s compensation. The novel’s connection between service and its negative effects foreshadows the later crippling of her ability to marry out of joy due to her son’s wishes. Even in her first marriage, Sophy is unable to express free will due to her servile position. “‘No, Sophy; lame or not lame, I cannot let you go. You must never leave me again'” (616). It is not her choice to get married; alas, she marries anyway. Not because marriage will help her financial status, but instead because of the fact that “she had a respect for him which almost amounted to veneration” (Broadview, pg. 616). Sophy’s respect comes from her position as his inferior. As the serving class, she has been crippled. Joyce constructs the character Eveline in a similar manner to Hardy’s Sophy. The collection in which she appears, Dubliners, emphasizes Joyce’s conception of Dublin as a place of paralysis. Yet, even in the story’s introduction, Eveline appears as a girl whom has had her decision making abilities crippled. There was a time when she could play in the fields but “then a man from Belfast bought the field and built houses on it” (20). Even when the field was still present, her father would interrupt the games by chasing them down with his blackthorn stick. Her inability to make decisions is coupled with the physical threat of her father in this scene where service to the economy has trampled the individual’s enjoyment of the land.Furthermore, Eveline’s agency is restricted by her family’s needs. Her mother has passed away and her father has begun to drink heavily. His behavior forces her to “always give her entire wages-seven shillings” to feed the family (21). Even then, when Eveline has abandoned any possibility of using her money for her own advancement, she must argue with her father and, only at the last minute, hurry out on Saturday night to shop for the family. She has been economically handicapped, much like Sophy with her ankle. Significantly, Sophy’s ankle is not the last of her troubles. Upon her husband’s death, her son refuses to let her marry an old acquaintance, Sam, because of the cultural stain it would place upon him as a ‘gentleman’. He forces her to swear to God and claims “I owe this to my father” (621). Not only does he prevent her from marrying a man that cares for her, but also, Randolph manages to become crippled himself. He, the priest, who by position is supposed to be a beacon of light, appears “black as a cloud” at his mother’s funeral (621). His final appearance symbolizes the darkness that he has driven into his soul. He has lost his father and his love for his mother a long time ago and now the effects of serving his social class and his father’s name have blackened him with evil. In comparison, Eveline after deciding to hold true her promise to “keep the home together as long as she could” as her deceased mother instructed, appears ghost-like. She appears paralyzed or dead with “her white face…passive, like a helpless animal. Her eyes (giving him) no sign of love or farewell or recognition” (23). She is corpselike due to her service of her mother’s last wishes. Eveline could have left for financial stability and love and the tropics but instead she is held behind as if her mother’s cold, dead hand had reached up from the grave to keep her there.Both Hardy and Joyce manage to demonstrate the negative effects of service on an individual’s ability to dream. Both main characters dream of marriage and stability and a more positive life. However, their position of social, financial, and emotional servitude restricts their ability to pursue that happiness. Both novels suggest that it is only through liberation from servitude to others that the individual can achieve true freedom.