Dubliners sample

Comparative Essay about Dubliners
The book Dubliners by James Joyce is a collection of fifteen stories that all happen in
Ireland. The author has partitioned the book into three significant sections. The first three
narrations are based on childhood stories of the narrators. The second section that consists of 4
stories is on the adolescent stage and finally the stories on the last section of the novel are on
adulthood (Terrance, 25). The author of the novel utilizes several aspects of literature to create
the plots of these fifteen stories bringing out several themes from the narrations. Such aspects of
literature include tone, stylistic devices such as symbolism and characterization among others.
This paper shall provide an analysis the works of James Joyce in the book. How he utilizes the
literature devices in building up a multi-layered thematic statement in his book. Using
comparative analysis, I shall show how the final story “the dead” serves as a concluding section
and a summation of the preceding themes comparing it to three other stories in the book namely,
“Araby”, “Two Gallants” and “A painful choice”.
A reader of the book may have realized that there was one main theme that cut across
these four narrations and that was the theme of love. Characters from the stories show emotions
and the human nature of desire to experience love. The story ‘Araby’ is a narration of small
adolescent boy who has a crush on the big sister of his play mate. He does a lot of things to gain
the attention of this girl that he has feelings for to no avail. However, once he gets his one chance
to prove his feelings to this girl, fate works its way to disappoint him. The second narration
“Two Gallants” is a story of two young men who are heading for dinner talking about their love
affairs and how unsuccessful they have been in finding the right girl. However one is optimistic
for he was going for on a date that night. The third “A painful choice” is a narration of young
man who is an introvert and has a dull life, stuck to a regular routine. But he meets one lady
friend who changes things in his life (Terrance, 14). His life becomes livelier and for a short
while he seems happy. However due to a misunderstanding they decide to keep away from each
other only for the man to read later from the newspapers about the sad death of this woman. The
final story is the last story in the book. The main characters of the narration are a man and his
wife who attend a party. In the party the man and his aunt play a song that really has an impact
on his wife. The man thinks his wife was moved by the song because of her love for him only to
find out that the wife was emotional because of her past lover (Terrance, 42).
All of these narrations revolve around emotions. I would say Joyce is not trying to bring
out the romantic side of love but rather the lonely and heartbreaking side of love and how
disappointing love can leave someone. In all the four narrations there is a sad ending to love.
Death, disappointment and heartaches are all a result of love. Moreover, Joyce utilizes themes
like mortality and paralysis in building up this theme of love. Moreover, the characterization in
the story also helps to build up the narrations to a common theme (Barners, 18).
The author is able to build up the stories into a satisfying conclusion using the story “the
dead” as the climax of the novel. However, it is not just about the story inside, but also the title
of the story. Something that is dead has no life, has seized to exist and it is something that only
exists in memories. In other words, something that is dead has come to its end. Therefore using
this style the narrator has been able to signify the reader that this story is finally coming to an
end. Therefore, the themes inside are also coming to an end (Robert et al., 62).
Furthermore, the tone that the narrator uses especially when coming towards the end of
the narration also symbolizes the summation of the themes. The tone that the author has utilized
at the ending of ‘‘Araby is totally different from the tone that he uses towards the end of the ‘the
dead’. The tone that is used in “Araby” can be termed as sympathetic, “My body was like a harp
and her words and gestures were like fingers running though the wire.” The author represents
narrator as a serious boy and a reader can be sympathetic with this boy whose feelings are
overwhelming him but he lacks the guts to express them (Terrance, 15). However, the tone used
in the ending of “the dead” is sad, for the narrator is both heartbroken and disappointed on how
things turned out. He finds out that the woman he loves was in love with another person before
him. “His soul swooned softly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and
faintly falling like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead. When something
comes to an end, especially if it was something good, then there is as sad feeling. Therefore, the
sad tone used by the author is a clear that the novel is now coming to an end.
Furthermore, the author has also used the setting in signifying the end of the novel. The
setting of the novel is in during winter period. From the description of the snow on the ground, it
appears that it is towards the end of the year (Robert et al, 55). The setting of the narration being
placed towards the end of the year could also be used as symbol to a show the conclusion of the
narrations. Moreover, coming back to the theme of the love in accordance to the author’s point of
view, it can be said that Joyce made the temperature cold to act as a symbolic feature of what the
characters in the stories felt in their hearts. “It was falling too, upon every part of the lonely
churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried it lay thickly on the crocked crosses and
headstones.” Moreover From the story “a painful case”, the narrator says, “He waited for some
minutes listening, he could hear nothing, and he felt he was alone.”
Also, the use of symbolism is a style that has been used by the author to show that the
story is coming to an end and also summing up the preceding themes. Many symbols have been
used from the title to the narration of the grave site where Michael Furey’s body laid buried and
forgotten (Robert et al 52). In the circle of life, the grave site is the final destination of every
human being. A graveyard is an empty place full of lifeless bodies that lack dreams and
ambitions. Therefore, having a description of a grave site in the last chapter of narration could be
a symbol of the ending of the novel (Terrance, 95). Furthermore, the gravesite could also
represent the emptiness that the lovers felt after being disappointed by love in the stories. In the
story of “two gallants" Lenehan feels lonely when he is having his meal alone thinking about his
friend’s date. “This vision made him feel keenly his own poverty of purse and spirit.”
Furthermore, in the last chapter, the author has utilized some literary devices like
paralysis, death and epiphany more than he has used it in other topics in the book. However, the
theme of death seems to be more dominant in this story as it runs from the beginning to the end.
Many things in the story represent death, for example the protagonist’s parents and grandfather
are said to be dead. Moreover some of the names used like the house help ‘Lily’ symbolize death
as lilies are flowers that are often used in funerals (Barners, 49). Moreover, the protagonist
speaks of death himself. He is scared of dying the similar way that Michael did or like his aunt
Julia. “Better pass boldly into the other world, in the full glory of some passion, the fade and
wither dismally with age.” All the talks on death are talks about the end of time which could
also symbolize the end. The use of paralysis is evident in many scenes of the narration (Barners,
51). They talk about the monks who sleep in their coffins. Joyce could have introduced the
coffins in the story to symbolize paralysis. Furthermore, the story of the horse going round the
statue of king William is also suggests the use of paralysis by the author. The use of paralysis in
the final chapter of the story shows that the author is trying to indicate that the narration is finally
coming to an end. It cannot proceed any further.
In conclusion, Joyce utilizes his skills of literature to carefully build his themes in the novel. The
themes assist the reader in having a consistent flow of understanding from the beginning of the
narration up to its final end. Moreover, the literary tools used in the narrations have a significant
impact on how the author lays the foundations of his stories and how he builds the story from
this foundation. Nevertheless, the novel was intriguing and captivating and the Joyce succeeded
in giving it a satisfactory ending.
Work Cited
Joyce, James. “Dubliners. Ed. Robert Scholes and A. Walton Litz.” (1976)
Joyce, James. A Potrait of the Artist as a Young Man; and Dubliners. Barnes & Noble Classic,
Joyce, James, and Terence Brown. Dubliners: with a introduction and introduction and notes by
Terence Brown. Penguin , 1992.

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