21 May 2019
In 1882, James Joyce, an Irish writer and novelist, was born in Dublin, Ireland. Throughout the nineteenth century, James Joyce was an influential writer who wrote with many different literary techniques. He often experimented with his language in many ways. A common tone used throughout James Joyces collection of short stories, Dubliners, is a pessimistic tone. Throughout James Joyces Dubliners, various stories are told about the everyday lives of Dublin residents. His birthplace, everyday scenes, and thoughts of his early childhood life had a great influence in his writings.
James Joyce incorporates his surroundings, acquaintances, and experiences into his writing by talking about taboo topics in the nineteenth century.
Throughout the nineteenth century, James Joyces short stories were often seen as controversial. He is well known because he addressed topics that were disapproved by many nineteenth century readers. In his collection of short stories, Dubliners, the short story ?The Boarding House addresses spousal abuse.
In The Boarding House, Mr. and Mrs. Mooney get divorced, which leads to Mrs. Mooney living in a boarding house with her daughter, Polly and her son, Jack. Mrs. Mooney owns a lodging business, and she leaves her daughter Polly to help clean around and amuse the residents. While being around so many young people, Polly falls in love with one of them, Mr. Doran. Mrs. Mooney attempts to get Mr. Doran to offer his hand in marriage to Polly. Mr. Doran is not excited for this and he barely even gets prepared for his meeting with Mrs.
Mooney. Mr. Doran is hesitant to marry Polly, which leads Polly to threaten to kill herself. It is until then Mr. Doran has two options after confessing to the priest of his romantic affair. He can either leave the town, in embarrassment, or he can marry Polly. At the beginning of this story, Mr. and Mrs. Mooney fight in their meat shop in front of the customers, which turns the customers away from buying their products. A frowned upon topic such as spousal abuse is demonstrated when One night [Mr. Mooney] went for his wife with the cleaver and she had to sleep a neighbours house (James Joyce The Boarding House 1). In this story, James Joyce does not hide the fact that Mr. Mooney is abusive, and beats his wife with a cleaver. Although in modern times talking about spousal abuse is less controversial, in the nineteenth century, this topic was extremely frowned upon. Joyce was one to bring light to topics that were often hidden in the shadows. Within the nineteenth century, topics such as family issues or drinking issues were not talked about, so when James Joyce included these topics in his short stories, many readers were caught off guard by the unusual topics.
Another unspoken topic throughout the nineteenth century in James Joyces stories was adultery within marriage. This often negatively distracted readers while reading James Joyces stories. In the short story A Little Cloud by James Joyce, this topic is mentioned. In A Little Cloud, the main setting of the story takes place in a bar where two friends, Little Chandler and Gallagher, reunite. They meet up after Gallagher moved to London 8 years prior. As the characters talk, Gallagher boasts about his adventurous and prospering life in London. As Gallagher describes his new life in London, he talks about his new and exotic wife, too. This leads Little Chandler to think bad thoughts about his life, including how his life is lackluster. This also leads him to think about his wife, who is pretty, but stale. In this story, Little Chandler …felt acutely the contrast between his own life and his friends and it seemed to him unjust (James Joyces A Little Cloud). These thoughts of unhappiness and jealousy are also a reason James Joyces work can be considered controversial. Although these topics were not widely spoken about, many people could find themselves in similar situations or feeling the same emotions.
In literature, when a writer places a setting in a story, they typically change the store names or locations. It is unusual and unheard of to give real names to companies or businesses. In James Joyce short stories, the locations or names of streets, parks, pubs, and railways companies arent changed. One Dublin location that is revealed in James Joyces writing is in An Encounter, where the schoolboys walk around Dublin, and eventually end up at the Pigeon House, Dublins electrical power station. In An Encounter, while the school boys were downtown, …they arranged to go along the Wharf Road until we came to the ships, then to cross in the ferryboat and walk out to see the Pigeon House (Joyce 1). James Joyces failure to change the names of these Dublin locations is another reason his work can be considered taboo.
James Joyces birth place in Dublin, Ireland has a great influence on his writings. These locations mentioned throughout Dublin show how much influence his birthplace had on his writing because the whole series Dubliners, takes in Dublin. The series consists of fifteen short stories, in each consists of a group of people in Dublin. Any author can place their stories in any setting, but James Joyce chose to place his stories in Dublin because he was born there. For example, in the short story An Encounter, a group of schoolboys take a trip to Dublin, where they end up in the Pigeon house, which is a real place in Dublin. Also, in the short story After The Race, a group of people spend a night out in Dublin. In addition to his birthplace, his childhood also had a great influence on his writing. James Joyces father was an alcoholic who often neglected his family (Atherton 2). After repeatedly borrowing money from his office, the Joyce family sank deeper and deeper into poverty. The issues his family faced influenced many of the controversial aspects of his writing. For example, in the short story Grace, alcoholism reveals itself in the line People had great sympathy with him for it was known that he had married an unpresentable woman who was an incurable drunkard (Joyce 25). The theme of alcoholism, and Dublin as the setting represents James Joyces childhood and upbringing. When James Joyce was young, he was also a fan of Henry Ibsen, a play writer and director. Ibsens work made an impression on Joyce and his stories.
Ever since James Joyce was young, he was deeply passionate about literature. As a young boy, he taught himself how to read Norwegian to understand Henry Ibsens plays. As a teenager, James Joyce was extremely inspired by Henry Ibsens work. James Joyces first published work was a review of Henry Ibsens play When We Dead Awaken. This review was featured in the influential Fortnightly Review,one of the most influential English-language periodicals of the 19th century (Review, 1). Even though Ibsen had just had a series of strokes, he was deeply flattered by Joyces work and tribute to him. As the author was deeply influenced by this, he had also received a letter from James Joyce stating …the words of Ibsen I shall keep in my heart all of my life (Popova 5). This letter created a connection between James Joyce and his childhood idol, Henry Ibsen.
Unlike other writers in the nineteenth century, James Joyces writings included dark tones and moods. Many nineteenth century readers often got distracted by the unsavory details of his short stories. These readers are often had a negative view on his writings and it blocked them from seeing the deeper, more universal theme of these stories. For example, in the story Eveline, a young girl faces sadness because of the recent death of her mother. Also, throughout her life her father was abusive. This short story has a dark face to the front of it, which can block the readers from realizing that the theme is more than just death or darkness, the theme can be about social statuses in Ireland. This story can represent social statuses because in 1848 Ireland, the irish were second class citizens of their own nation. Catholic families often faced hardships in Ireland. The alcoholism and abuse is rampant in this story, which helps represent the raw hardships the irish dealt with. Readers from the nineteenth century were not used to reading these dark themes, so they were most often turned away from reading his stories. Since most stories from the nineteenth century didnt include these dark themes, they were seen as less controversial. Joyce dared to write about things that others could not fathom reading.
Most of the stories in Dubliners by James Joyce include dark themes that were considered unusual for nineteenth century readers. James Joyces major themes of his collection of stories are paralysis, which can manifest itself as corruption, lack of ambition, or frustration. Other major themes are corruption and death (Skuola 4). In the short story The Sisters, a young boy reflects on the impending death of Father Flynn. After suffering from three strokes, Father Flynn becomes paralyzed, demonstrating the first of the three major themes of Dubliners. Also, in this story Father Flynn dies, demonstrating the second theme, death. The short story The Boarding House also has a theme of death because when Mr. Doran is hesitant to marry her, she threatens to kill herself.
James Joyces short stories have a common theme of relating themselves to real life things and events. These stories often include real locations and names in them, which blurs the lines between fact and fiction in his stories. James Joyce incorporates his surroundings into his works by using familiar locations seen throughout his life. His early childhood influences his writings in many ways, his birth place, Dublin, Ireland. Another way his early childhood influences his writings is through his family issues. His family life wasnt perfect, and his father was an alcoholic, which is a theme throughout Dubliners. James Joyces writings were often seen as controversial because of the taboo topics, such as alcoholism, adultery, and uncensored locations mentioned in them. Although James Joyces work was seen as controversial in the nineteenth century, in modern times they can be appreciated and even considered a work of art.