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Joyce described Dublin as a 'city in paralysis'. From your reading of these stories do you agree with this statement?
Not just a city paralysed, but a people paralysed by religious and social traditions. No wonder Joyce left it!
Although Joyce described Dublin as a city in paralysis, within each story, he planted the seed of hope. Joyce may have had little faith in the national movement changing Ireland’s conservatism towards class, religion and social norms but he believed in the power of the individual. These stories illuminate Joyce’s belief that individual characters have the ability to change. Despite the characters failure to realize their dreams, Joyce’s consistent planting of these little epiphanies demonstrates his perhaps misplaced hope that the Irish people will pull themselves out of paralysis.
If Joyce considered Dublin at the turn of the 19th century to be a “'city in paralysis” one can only imagine what he would think of the city as we find it now. The servility, the insular attitudes and oppressive Catholic ethos permeating society as he saw it has now been replaced by other virulent forms of “paralysis”, one overriding pandemic in my humble opinion being avarice.
In reading and re-reading Dubliners the various forms of paralysis become evident in each story and are essential in the development of the themes. By the last page they are knitted into a strangling (but not insurmountable) web. “The Dead” brings them together; sexual repression, role imperatives (men and women), nationalism, religion, and “lace-curtain” strangulation in all its forms. The final story is hypnotic with the realization by the final paragraph that Gabriel Conroy (and a few of the fellow travelers) is left in this stultifying air of cultural and emotional quick-sand and all he can do is hope for his extrication.
“Dubliners” taken collectively offers some optimism. His beloved Dublin of that time had every chance of throwing off the inertia of Irish society in general. If this theme of paralysis could be revisited and rewritten by Joyce based on his city at the commencement of the 21st Century I am less optimistic that he would find the current paralysis could be as easily addressed and more importantly surmounted.
The characters Mr.Duffy and Eveline,both seem to be caught in the city of paralysis.The staid character of Mr.Duffy could not foster an adulterous affair with Mrs.Sinico(her husband the captain was away most of the time)during her lifetime but realised at her death that he had missed the only chance of love and happiness that ever came within his reach.The same goes for Eveline,who failed to board the ship to Buenos Aires with her lover,to stay behind to take care of her alcoholic father who spent most of her hard earned money at pubs.
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