Discuss Joyces Treatment Of The Theme Of

Discuss Joyce?s Treatment Of The Theme Of Paralysis In The Stories On Childhood In His Novel Dubline Essay, Research Paper

DublinersDiscuss Joyce?s treatment of the theme of paralysis in the stories on

childhood in his novel Dubliners. ?My intention was to write a chapter of the moral history of my country

and I chose Dublin for the scene because that city seemed to me the centre of

paralysis.? ?In Dubliners James Joyce has written fifteen short stories, all of

which display some sort of paralysis within life in Dublin. These are expressed

in many forms, through different types of stories, which split the book up into

five sections. The first section consists of the first three stories, which are

all on childhood, while the next four stories are all about adolescence. The

next section, which includes the stories: A

Little Cloud, Counterparts, Clay and A Painful Case are all about middle

age. The penultimate section is about public life and includes three stories,

and then The Dead acts as an epilogue

in the book, as the final section.Paralysis is shown through

different forms of life all within Dublin. These are mainly childhood, often

through the older generation, who themselves suffer paralysis. The church

causes paralysis along with death. Everyone suffers some sort of paralysis in

Dublin and Clive Hart writes of Dubliners:

?In Dubliners one pattern comes to fare time after time: the protagonist of a

story (whether an individual or a group) is placed in a position, which reveals

the direction he must take if he is to live a full and creative life; but

always he is defeated by the combined forces of his environment. The opportunity

to achieve a satisfactory integration of his life often seems within his grasp,

but as he reaches tentatively towards, he is thwarted by the conditions, which

the modern world imposes on him.? In the first story: ?The

Sisters,? paralysis is mentioned on the first page as the narrator says: ?Every

night I gazed up at the window I said softly to myself the word paralysis. It

had sounded strangely in my ears, like the word gnomon in the Euclid and the

word simony in the Catechism. But now it sounded to me like the name of some

maleficent and sinful being. It filled me with fear, and yet I longed to be

nearer to it and to look upon its deadly work.? The word is described from the

beginning as a strange word, and it is a crippling word, as it affects so many

people, as is seem in this collection of short stories. The Oxford English

Dictionary definition of paralysis is

? a nervous condition with impairment or

loss of the motor function in the nerves? or ? a state of utter powerlessness? and it is derived from the Greek

meaning of ?disable.? The word should

therefore be used with people; however, Joyce personifies many other parts of

life in order to give them paralysis. For example, Dublin, in itself, has its

own paralysis.Dublin provides paralysis for many

people through many forms. ?North

Richmond Street, being blind, was a quiet street except at the hour the

Christian Brothers? School set the boys free. An uninhabited house of two

storeys stood at the blind end, detached from its neighbours in a square

ground. The other houses of the street, conscious of decent lives within them,

gazed at one another with brown imperturbable faces?When the short days of

winter came dusk fell before we had well eaten our dinners. When we met in the

street the houses had grown sombre. The space of sky above us was the colour of

ever-changing violet and towards it the lamps of the street lifted their feeble

lanterns. The cold air stung us and we played till our bodies glowed. Our

shouts echoed in the silent street. The career of our play brought us through

the dark muddy lanes behind the houses where we ran the gantlet of the rough

tribes from the cottages, to the back doors of the dark dripping gardens where

odours arose from the ash pits, to the dark odorous stables.? In Araby the houses are personified to give

them ?imperturbable faces?, which

reject each other and are ?conscious of

decent lives,? which shows the narrow-mindedness of the community, which is

a form of paralysis, Joyce constantly shows paralysis in Dublin through many

different forms, not just through people, as is shown here. The environment is

utterly unpleasant, with it being dull, dreary, cold and eerily quiet.

Everything is either brown or dark and black: the lanes are ?dark and muddy?, the gardens are ?dark and dripping? and the stables are ?dark and odorous.? Everything combines

to give a very unpleasant atmosphere in Dublin. This sense of darkness suggests

total confusion, which is why the citizens of Dublin are prevented from seeing

reality in every single one of the stories. Every story has a main character,

which cannot see the reality of life. The citizens of Dublin depend solely on

the eye for understanding in the world, but they do not see clearly, rather in

a blurred way. When there is a connection of senses at the end of the story,

sight is replaced by insight and inner vision and the character is able to

understand really what has gone on. Dublin puts the curtain in front of the

eyes of the inhabitants to form a paralysis, which prevents them from seeing

what is actually going on, until the end of the story.Aimless wandering often takes

place in the novel Dubliners and this

can be seen in Araby, where it either

leads nowhere or to a blind end, as in North Richmond Street, which is blind

for two reasons. People cannot see clearly due to the paralysis from Dublin,

and it is also a cul-de-sac, and so a dead-end, which cannot go on any further.In An Encounter, the boys try to escape the paralysis of school and

encounter the paralysis imposed on them by Dublin. They run from school and

they want happens: ?School and home

seemed to recede from us and their influences upon us seemed to wane.?

However, they soon discover that Dublin cannot give them enjoyment, ?We were serious to the point of solemnity?

The day had grown sultry, and in the windows of the grocers? shop musty

biscuits lay bleaching. We bought some biscuits and chocolate, which we ate

sedulously as we wandered through the squalid streets?. We both felt rather

tired.? Dublin has an effect on the boys in terms of atmosphere and there

is a definite change in pace in the story, as they discover that Dublin is not

all that they had hoped for. Dublin is the one of the central causes of

paralysis in Dubliners, as its dull

atmosphere has such an effect on people.Another core source of paralysis

is through religion, which can easily be seen in the stories about

childhood.? In The Sisters, Joyce writes: ?I

felt annoyed at discovering in myself a sensation of freedom as if I had been

freed from something by his death.??

By educating the boy, and from the first page, it can be seen that he

has been well educated, the priest gave the boy freedom, but he also inhibited

him, as he had to visit him and be educated, but now this no longer shall

happen. The priest was not able to work in the church in his later life and so

he educated the boy, in order to make him into a priest himself, and then he

could live his life through the boy. The priest?s death gives the boy freedom,

as he, no longer, must live up to the priest?s expectations.In An Encounter, the boys are subject to religious prejudice, as they

are thought to be of the wrong religion: ?The

ragged troop screaming after us: Swaddlers! Swaddlers thinking we were

Protestants because Mahoney, who was dark-complexioned, wore the silver badge

of a cricket club in his cap.? This diminishes the enjoyment of the day

slightly, simply due to the fact that they were thought to be the incorrect

religion.In Araby the boy is in love with Mangan?s sister, and this is also

paralysis through a religion, but in a different way: ?I imagined that I bore my chalice safely through a throng of foes.?

The boy actually worships the girl and it is through this ?religion? that he

has his downfall and becomes obsessive and therefore adrift from the real

world.Childhood is also a major

inhibiting factor, which is a cause of paralysis. The first three stories in

the novel are all on younger life, and so paralysis can be seen through a

number of the different forms, but mainly through the fact that the main

characters are children. School is one of the main problems in childhood and

this is shown in An Encounter, when

boys try to escape the tedium of school. This is done in the story in two ways,

the first is through literature: ?The

adventures related in the literature of the Wild West were remote from my

nature but, at least, they opened doors of escape.? Also through literal

escape, when two of the boys do not go to school for a day, in order to spend

the day in Dublin and away from school. An example of the tedium of

school is shown through the account of Father Butler discovering Leo Dillon?s

book: ?Everyone?s heart palpitated as Leo

Dillon handed up the paper and everyone assumed an innocent face. Father Butler

turned over the pages frowning. ?What is this rubbish?? he said ?The Apache

Chief. Is this what you read instead of studying your Roman history? Let me not

find any more of this wretched stuff in this college. The man who wrote it, I

suppose, was some wretched scribbler that writes these things for drink. I?m

surprised at boys like you, educated, reading such stuff. I could understand it

if you were?National School boys.? It is extremely strict, as is any Jesuit

school, and, understandably, the boys do not appreciate this and want escape.

The master is unsympathetic and does not even try to enter imaginatively into

what they are doing. It is not surprising that the boys are tired of the

weariness of school-life and want to break out, even just for one day. Even on

their day out they are still afraid of school: ?Leo Dillon was afraid we might meet Father Butler or someone out of

college.? It is a major force on their lives and therefore for a great

source of paralysis.For the children in the book, the

home is also a source of paralysis. Whatever they do, they cannot fully escape.

?We had to be home before four o?clock

lest our adventure should be discovered.? Reality strikes them, as they

realise they cannot always escape, as they are prisoners of time.In Araby another inhibiting factor affects the boy, this is adolescent

love, of a kind, which he will never succeed in but he cannot help himself. ?Every morning I lay on the floor in the

front parlour watching her door?I kept her brown figure always in my eye? I

imagined that I bore my chalice safely through a throng of foes.? The boy

is clearly obsessed with Mangan?s sister, and even worships her. ?All my senses seemed to veil themselves and,

feeling that I was about to slip from them, I pressed the palms of my hands together

until they trembled, murmuring: ?O love! O love!? many times.? He knows

that his love is unlikely to be unrequited, but he still is obsessed with her

and thinks of her the whole time: ?Her

image accompanied me even in places the most hostile to romance.? It is

this fixation that causes him to go to the bazaar and eventually to realise

that what he has been doing in his life has been stupid, as there is no way

that she would ever respond to his passion in a good way.An especially significant source of

paralysis, especially in the childhood stories is through the older generation.

All of the childhood stories include accounts of where the older generation

have restrained the younger in their progress through life.?He began to puff at his pipe,

no doubt arranging his opinion in his mind. Tiresome old fool! When we knew him

first he used to be rather interesting, talking of faints and worms; but I soon

grew tired of him and his endless stories about the distillery.? As described in The Sisters, the boy feels alienated because of the generation

gap, and Old Cotter is a typical member of the older generation, which are

characteristic of Dublin?s paralysis. ?Why, when I was a nipper every

morning of my life I had a cold bath, winter and summer.? The older generation always want the children to

live in the past, as they do and not look to the future. ?The old chap

taught him a great deal, mind you; and they say he had a great wish for him.? The boy has to do as he is told and follow what he

is instructed for him, this is a restriction on him and therefore a source of

paralysis through the older generation. ?Tiresome old red-nosed

imbecile!? The boy wants to live his life the

way he wants, and not have Old Cotter wittering on to his aunt and uncle, as to

how he should really be living his life. The boy?s uncle is also a source of

paralysis, as he wanted him to enter the priesthood, as did the priest, as it

was a great honour then, however, the aunt was more genial and genuine: ? ?God

have mercy on his soul,? said my aunt piously.?In

An Encounter, the paralysis through the

older generation is through the schoolmaster and the paedophile, who they come

across on their day out. The boys try to escape the tedium of school through

literature, but the schoolmaster catches them and tries to stop them, and so

they try to escape by going truant for a day. However, the meeting with the

paedophile ruins this: ?There was nothing he liked, he said, so much as

looking at a nice young girl, at her nice white hands and her beautiful soft

hair?He said that when boys were that kind they ought to be whipped and well

whipped?A slap on the hand or a box on the air was no good: what he wanted was

to get a nice warm whipping?He described to me how he would whip such a boy as

if he were unfolding some elaborate mystery. He would love that he said, better

than anything in this world; and his voice, as he led me monotonously through

the mystery, grew almost affectionate and seemed to plead with me that I should

understand him.? The meeting up with this man,

destroys the day, as it is not a pleasant thought for him, and he is understand

himself more, but in a bad way. The responsibility is placed on the boy, which

causes an inappropriate seriousness on him, which he should not need to encounter

at his age.The

uncle is the key source of paralysis from the older generation in Araby, as he prevents the boy from getting to the bazaar

in time, to see it in all its glory, which would probably mean that he would

still be a happy boy, and yet obsessed with Mangan?s sister. ?At nine

o?clock I heard my uncle?s latchkey in the halldoor. I heard him talking to

himself and heard the hallstand rocking when it had received the weight of his

overcoat. I could interpret these signs. When he was midway through his dinner

I asked him to give me the money to go to the bazaar. He had forgotten.? The uncle is drunk and has had his pleasure, but he

has no interest in the boy, and has forgotten all about him. The Aunt feels a

bit sorry for him, and in this way, is more caring and like the aunt in The

Sisters: ?Can?t you give him the money

and let him go? You?ve kept him late enough as it is.? However, the uncle is a main source of the paralysis, as it is his

entire fault that the day has become such a disaster.Literal

paralysis can be seen in some people through illness, for example the

paedophile is mentally ill, as is shown by his sick and perverted pleasures.

The priest in The Sisters, is also

mentally, and also physically, ill and therefore ?paralysed?: ?Even as

he raised his large trembling hand to his nose little clouds of smoke dribbled

through his fingers over the front of his coat?When he smiled he used to

uncover his big discoloured teeth and let his tongue lie upon his lower lip – a

habit which had made me feel uneasy in the beginning of our acquaintance before

I knew him well??That affected his mind? she said. ?After that he began to mope

by himself, talking to no-one and wandering about by himself.?? The priest is not quite in total control of himself,

as with the paedophile, who also needs a walking stick. Both these characters

are both physically and mentally handicapped and so are ?paralysed.?Paralysis

is something that certain characters do not like unsurprisingly and so the need

to escape is another major theme in Dubliners. In The Sisters, the boy tries

to escape the tedium of life at home with his Aunt and Uncle, by dreaming of

foreign and exotic lands, such as Persia: ?As I walked along in the sun

I remembered old Cotter?s words and tried to remember what had happened

afterwards in the dream. I remembered that I had noticed long velvet curtains

and a swinging lamp of antique fashion. I felt that I had been very far away,

in some land where the customs were strange.??Araby? the title of one of the short stories, represents

Arabia, which is another exotic land and is a form of escape for the boy, where

he can connect with his ?love.? The Wild West is the land of escapism for the

boys at the school in An Encounter,

where they can live off heroes in another world. Dublin is also a place of

escapism in An Encounter, where they try

to escape the restrictions of school. The

priest, in The Sisters, tries to escape

in a different way, as he tries to escape the limitations of the church, by

living his life through the boy. However, all these characters try to escape

the paralysis through life and literature, but it always ends in frustration.Every

one of the stories in Dubliners has many

forms of paralysis, which have a crippling effect on life. In The Sisters, paralysis affects both the boy and the priest, who

is not only affected by literal mental and physical paralysis, but also by the

paralysis from the limitations of the church. The priest, who in a way also

thrust him forward with education, held the boy back, but he also suffers

paralysis through the older generation, from Old Cotter, his father and the

priest, who impose expectations on him.The

boys in An Encounter, suffer from many

forms of paralysis. The school imposes limitations on them, and it is this that

they are mainly trying to escape from. The older generation, linked to the

school through the master, but also through the paedophile are a major source

of paralysis, as in all the stories. The paedophile, is also a victim of

paralysis, through, as with the priest in The Sisters, both literal physical and mental paralysis. Time is

also a force holding the boys back, as shown when they realise that they must

get back home before four o?clock. Their escape from the tedium and paralysis

of school is a serious failure as they encounter many other forms of paralysis,

which are just as depressing, especially Dublin, which deteriorates the

atmosphere dramatically.The

citizens of Dublin depend solely in the eye for comprehension and understanding

of the real world. However, they do not see clearly but rather in a blurred

way, upon the connection of two senses, usually the sight and hearing, the

characters are able to fully comprehend the reality. As is shown clearly in Araby: ?My eyes were often full of tears (I could

not tell why) and at times a flood from my heart seemed to pour itself out into

my bosom.? The tears are a literal showing of

the fact that he cannot see clearly, until the boy hears the conversation

between the people at the bazaar: ?Gazing up into the darkness I saw

myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with

anguish and anger.? Hearing this conversation,

brings forth his moment of discovery and awareness and realises that the

aimlessness of his hopes. As the lights go out his sight is replaced by insight

and inner vision and he finally realises that his previous world was an

innocent vision and illusory.Paralysis

in Dubliners is a metaphor for the

doomed and self-defeating life in Dublin and it is a very affective force upon

the lives of the children in the first three stories. Some stories focus on

some forms of paralysis rather than others, but the recurring main source of

paralysis is from Dublin, the city itself. All three stories end with a greater

self-awareness within the boys involved, who learn to take on the guilt of the

world. James Joyce intended to write a chapter displaying Dublin, as a centre

of paralysis and he did this by using a number of sources of paralysis and

showing them in different contexts.


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