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What are the most significant stories in Dubliners regarding the aspect of the city as...

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kathathewombat | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted January 7, 2013 at 11:51 AM via web

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What are the most significant stories in Dubliners regarding the aspect of the city as "the soul of paralysis"?

 

I am writing a thesis on how city life influences (mainly focussing on social issues rather than geographical) the characters in Dubliners, regarding the famous quotation of Joyce that the city is "the soul of hemiplegia and paralysis".

Now I want to concentrate on  two of the short-stories, but I struggle to find the most significant ones regarding my topic.

I thought about choosing Eveline as the first story, as she is obviously paralysed by the social structures the city life brings along. You think this is ok? What other story would you analyse?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 9, 2014 at 5:26 PM (Answer #1)

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"Eveline" is certainly an appropriate choice for the essay on Dublin's being "the soul of hemiplegia and paralysis" as the concept of paralysis drives this story. From the very beginning of this narrative, Dublin is portrayed as a setting of darkness as "evening invade[s] the avenue." Inside the curtains hold the odor of cretonne, a chemical used in mortuaries. As Eveline looks out her window, she watches the "man out of the last house" pass by where once there was a field, but a "man from Belfast," the mainly Protestant city occupied by British, had bought it and built bright brick houses upon it unlike the brown houses of the Irish. Sitting there, Eveline contemplates leaving her home for Buenos Ayres, a thriving and wealthy city, in contrast to Dublin, which attracted many European immigrants and adventurers. Also, since the phrase "Going to Buenos Ayres" was slang for adopting a life of prostitution, there is the suggestion that Eveline considers abandoning not only Dublin, but the stultifying religious environment in which she lives.

Much like "Eveline," the story which precedes it, "Araby" presents the clash of the lure of exotic places and the tragic hold that quotidian drudgery has upon the Dubliner. As an embodiment of this contrast, Mangan's sister presents the narrator/boy with visions of love and carnal pleasure while at the same time she is a "brown figure" and an obstacle to his love as he must deal with his dull schoolwork, his dilatory drunken uncle, and the trains of Dublin that cause him to arrive too late at the bazaar. In short, Dublin traps the boy as much as it does Eveline as his romantic dreams of Mangan whose "dress swung as she moved...and the soft tope of her hair tossed from side to side" dissolve when she is no longer "shrouded in mystery."

In both stories, as in others of Joyce's Dubliners, the setting and descriptions of Dublin which make it become "the soul of paralysis" are due not directly from the external setting so much as they evolve from the thoughts and reactions of Joyce's characters, whose epiphanies cause them to feel the crushing forces of reality, a reality that exists in the city in which the British presence and the presence of a provincial Catholic Church repress the dreams and potential of the Irish people.

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