Paralysis Of The Dubliners English Literature Essay

  During the 19th century, many literary texts were greatly influenced by the rise of modernism. James Joyce was one of the modernist writers who had engaged in a revolution against 19th-century writing style and subject matters in fiction. His text, Dubliners is stories with realistic narratives about everyday failures and frustrations. And it deals with universal human nature and transcends the particular life in Dublin in the 20th century when Dublin was under the colonization of the United Kingdom (Gray, 1997). Dubliners is a modernist text that expresses paralysis of the people in Ireland and their hostility towards city life. These can be proved by the imprisonment brought by the society in the 20th century; and the contrast between human aspiration and frustration concerning the city life. In this essay, I will focus on the story Araby to illustrate my argument.

The paralysis of people in Ireland was a product brought by the society where there were no values and true love. At the beginning of the story, James Joyce uses lot of dictions to describe the place where the protagonist lives. Paralysis can be seen from the images of the house and the street.”An uninhabited house of two stories stood at the blind end, detached from its neighbors in a square ground” (19). The blindness of the street and the house is portrayed that they inhabit at the blind end of the place. Additionally, James Joyce goes on describing the scenery in Araby with the blindness and darkness. He uses the word “dark” frequently in the story such as “dark muddy lanes”, “dark dripping gardens” and “dark odorous stables” (19). These images help to construct a dark atmosphere in the street and it molds the protagonist’s blindness throughout the story. On the day when the boy proceeds to the bazaar, everything around him is all filled with darkness and blindness. He cannot see anything that he usually sees every day in the morning when he looks over at the dark house where the girl lives (22). He can just realize his house is “cold”, “empty” and “gloomy” (22). He stands in front of the window for an hour and he sees nothing but imagining “a brown-clad figure” that he usually sees in the lamplight which is the girl’s figure. He is blind and eyeless to everything around him except the image of his love, Mangan’s sister. The boy is paralyzed by the girl and it implies that the Dubliners are blind and innocent towards the concept of love.

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  The setting of the house further implies the paralysis of the people in the society which brought imprisonment. The “musty” house in which the boy lives is being “long enclosed” and it is “littered with old useless papers” (19). It is the house where the priest lives before his death. The objects filled in the house are old things that the priest leaves such as “paper-covered books” (19). The state of the house infers the entire people are superficial and naive that they just live and wait for their death. The drunken men, bargaining women, labourers as well as the shop boys that the boy sees in the flaming streets on Saturday evenings are languid people in the society (22). They live without any values or meanings and lead an order and purposeless life. Even they are blind and ignorant to the lofty value that “the lamps of the street lift their feeble lanterns” (19). The paralysis brings imprisonment to the Dubliners in which they are trapped in everyday lifestyle. For example, the boy’s uncle is fallen into work routine and he always gets drunk in the local pub or bars after work which results in the late return to home. It causes failure of giving the boy a chance to go to the bazaar before the bazaar is closed. The uncle is indifferent and neglectful to the boy’s anxiety about his late arrival. The boy’s uncle represents the normal Dubliners who are paralyzed. The living style the uncle leads is just the same as what normal Dubliners would do in their daily life. People are imprisoned in their way of life and fear of changes.

The human aspiration in Dubliners was destroyed by the frustration brought by the city which intensified people’s hostility towards city life in the 20th century. In Araby, there are two different human aspirations concerning the ideal love and the Eastern culture represented by “chalice” and “splendid bazaar” respectively. About the love aspiration, the protagonist, the boy in Araby adores a girl who is his friend, Mangan’s sister. He aspires to pure and ideal love romanticism. In the description of the girl, the words such as “light’, “lamp”, and “white” are frequently used to portray the girl’s physical appearance. The use of these words makes the girl pure like an angel that the boy aspirates to. Also, the boy’s love towards the girl is treasurable, precious and respectful. “I imagined that I bore my chalice safely through a throng of foes. Her name sprang to my lips at moments in strange prayers and praises which I myself did not understand” (20). He imagines that his love is a chalice which is a cup containing the wine that becomes the blood of Christ for the celebration of the Eucharist. It shows how the boy sees his relationship with the girl as pure and sacred. Moreover, he promises the girl to go to Araby and buys her something from the bazaar. He is first frustrated by his uncle’s late return to home. He knows he is late to go to bazaar and he knows he cannot buy anything for the girl. But more importantly, he meets flirting woman and men when he arrives to the bazaar. He realizes that love and relationship between the girl and him is not real and it is just his imagination. The boy feels himself ridiculed by his conceit towards love that he gazes at the sky and he sees himself “as a creature driven and derided by vanity” (24). Therefore, he finally leaves the place with indignation and anguish. After having been to the bazaar, he discovers that his pursue of beauty in romantic relationship is so disappointing that it is just a mirage that he cannot get.

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Furthermore, the Dubliners’ aspirations to the Eastern Cultures represented by the ideal bazaar in Araby were disillusionized by the reality of the city. The girl asks whether the boy would go to the bazaar as she has to conduct retreat that she cannot go to the bazaar. The boy thinks “it would be a splendid bazaar” (21) as the girl would love to go. “The syllables of the word Araby were called to me through the silence in which my soul luxuriated and cast an Eastern enchantment over me” (21). These show that the Dubliners desire to go to Araby bazaar because of the Eastern glamour and the charm of the bazaar. However, when the boy arrives to Araby, almost all the stalls are closed and everywhere is surrounded by a piece of darkness. The boy realizes that the bazaar is like a normal market and it shares the similar situation with the Dublin society. The young lady in a stall at the bazaar speaks to the boy with “a sense of duty” and her tone of voice is not encouraging and polite (24). She continues to flirt with the men after she notices that the boy would not buy anything from her. The reality of the bazaar frustrates the boy as the so-called “splendid bazaar” symbolizes the intricacy and difficulty that he would come across in the adult world. And he is unable to get into and adapt to the adult life that he is under the adolescence clash. The boy’s romantic idealism is totally disillusionized and destroyed by the commercialism and the frivolity of the bazaar. The glamour of the “splendid bazaar” is just the Europeans’ expectations towards an Eastern bazaar. The frustrations brought by the city intensify the hostility and hatred of the Dubliners towards city life.

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To conclude, James Joyce expresses in his text, Dubliners, the discontent and hatred towards the paralysis of the Dubliners, as well as the hostility towards the city life in England which is symbolized by the splendid bazaar in Araby. The text reveals the paralysis of the environment of the place and its people by using the ideas of darkness and blindness throughout the story. In the reality, the people lived in Dublin were under the imprisonment which was a product of the paralysis of the society in Ireland in the 20th century. The backwardness of Dublin made the people blind, ignorant, innocent and dead-alive. Also, it reveals how frustration brought by the city, England destroyed human aspiration at that time. Therefore, the ending of the story Araby is filled with anguish and anger. It is definitely because of the disappointments brought by England to Ireland.

Word Count: 1503 / 1500

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