James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (1882 – 1941) was an Irish novelist and poet. He was the eldest son of ten surviving children of Stanislaus Joyce and Mary Jane Murray. He received a strict Catholic education, attending several Jesuit schools in Dublin before studying philosophy and languages at the University College, Dublin. Joyce's childhood was marked by constant moves and persistent financial difficulties. In his early twenties James Joyce emigrated permanently to continental Europe.
Despite living overseas for most of his life, Joyce continued to write about his home city, excusing himself with the following comment: "For myself, I always write about Dublin, because if I can get to the heart of Dublin I can get to the heart of all the cities of the world. In the particular is contained the universal. "(Ellman, p. 505, citing power, from an old Waterford house (London, n. d. ), p. 63-64. ) Joyce's fictions, including Dubliners, reviews middle-class Irish Catholic society, questioning marriage, faith, and nationalism.
Dubliners is a collection of fifteen short stories which Joyce had finished writing in 1906 but were not published until 1914. By a close reading of relevant stories from Dubliners, “Eveline”, “The Boarding House” and “A Painful Case”, I am going to analyse how James Joyce portrays women characters. These stories are set in the early twentieth century in Dublin. Alcoholism is a major feature of the society and Joyce illustrated this in many of the stories. There are different social classes represented in the stories showing a realistic insight into Ireland in the early twentieth century.
In the story “Eveline”, we read about the conflict of Eveline’s life with her abusive father, “... she sometimes felt herself in danger of her father’s violence. ” (Joyce, 1993:24), her relationship with Frank who she is hoping to emigrate with, and honouring a promise to her dead mother “... to keep the home together as long as she could. ” (Joyce, 1993:25). Eveline is anxious, timid, scared and indecisive young woman balanced between her past and future. She dreams of a new life with her lover Frank, but is afraid of letting go of her past “... ow that she was about to leave it she did not find it a wholly undesirable life. ” (Joyce, 1993:24). Eveline’s hesitancy and fear leads to paralysis of her dreamed life abroad with Frank “... in her new home, in a distant unknown country... ” (Joyce, 1993:24). “The Boarding House” is a story of Mrs. Mooney, the owner of the boarding house, who is separated from her alcoholic husband. When Mrs. Mooney finds out that her nineteen-year-old daughter Polly has an affair with one of her lodger, Mr. Doran, a man in his mid thirties, she tricks him into marrying her daughter.
Also you can read Claudia Valentine Character Analysis
Mrs. Mooney is a dynamic, persistent woman. After escaping her drunken husband, she directs her attention to the running of a boarding house. Her ultimate goal is to successfully marry off her lively daughter Polly. When she discovers the affair between her daughter and Mr. Doran, she sees this as an opportunity to get her daughter off her hands “She dealt with moral problems as a cleaver deals with meat... ” (Joyce, 1993:44). She is focusing on her own precedence, confident that she will get her way “She felt sure she would win. (Joyce, 1993:45) and is ignoring the feelings of her daughter and Mr. Doran. In “A Painful Case”, we read about an affair of a loner James Duffy with an unhappily married middle class woman Mrs. Sinico. They are inhibited in their relationship and after a while, they split up “... every bond, he said, is a bond to sorrow. ” (Joyce, 1993:80). A few years later, he reads about her death in a tram accident, perhaps a suicide. This story ends where it begins, with Mr. Duffy alone “His life would be lonely too until he, too, died... (Joyce, 1993:83). In his stories, James Joyce talks openly about the love relationships, romance, and sex. He focuses on females, their imbalanced relationship with males and the consequences of such relationships. Joyce's way of representing females is honest and it is very informative as well as educating. He says that in some cases of male-female sexual relationship the male can simply leave and go on with his life ”... he can go his way as if nothing had happened, having had his moment of pleasure... ” (Joyce, 1993:45).
In some other cases, the man would have to pay money for the girl to her mother “Some mothers would be content to patch up such an affair for sum of money... ” (Joyce, 1993:45). This is an actual description of how women were considered and treated like sexual products. The men were raised to lead and take charge, while women, on the other hand, were taught that their place is to keep peace, and in most scenarios that means obey “You forget that the kingdom of heaven suffers violence: and the kingdom of heaven is like a woman” (Joyce, www. ictionary-quotes. com, 6 March 2011). In the above-mentioned stories Joyce’s woman are complicated, distinctive characters, but above all, they are victims. They are victims of home, of classes of life, of religious principles and predominantly of they own identity. As Joyce wrote himself to his lover and partner Nora Barnacle “… My mother was slowly killed, I think, by my father’s ill-treatment, by years of trouble, and by my cynical frankness of conduct.
When I looked on her face as she lay in the coffin – a face grey and wasted with cancer- I understood that I was looking on the face of a victim and I cursed the system which had made her a victim. ” (Letters, II, 48, www. ricorso. net, 6March 2011) Books: James Joyce (1993) Dubliners. Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions Limited. Web source: www. dictionary-quotes. com (6. 3. 2011) www. ricorso. net (6. 3. 2011) www. skoool. ie (5. 3. 2011) www. wikipedia. org (6. 3. 2011)