Escaping the Responsibility in Society

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Escaping the Responsibility in Society James Joyce wrote a collection of short stories titled Dubliners. Joyce wrote these stories in the nineteen hundreds to show how people often felt during the hard time after the Famine. The characters escape from their own responsibilities in society. James Joyce uses the theme of escape throughout three stories in Dubliners, “An Encounter,” “Eveline,” and “The Dead.” In “An Encounter,” the boys escape school but have a responsibility to attend that day. As well Eveline feels that she has to escape Dublin but believes she has a duty to keep. “The Dead,” Gabriel escapes his responsibility to be there for his wife Gretta, when she is in a time of need. However, in these stories, the characters escape their responsibility. In all of the short stories, each story shows the characters escaping society with their responsibilities through their own type of work. In each story, characters strive to escape the responsibility of work or duty. For example, in “An Encounter,” Leo Dillon and a child name Mahony “planned a day’s miching” (13). This shows how they plan on getting away from the society of Dublin and escaping school. They have a responsibility to attend school that day, however, with them not being there they have to consider the fact of getting caught; there are choices and consequences in life. There responsibility is to be present at school, however, they escape society and have to deal with the consequences. Another way that the boys escape society by way of their responsibilities is when they read comic books in class. The teacher asks, “Is this what you read instead of studying your Roman History? [...] I’m surprised at boys like you, educated, reading such stuff” (12). They are escaping again from society, their responsibilities of school work and, the standards of expectations from their teacher. They have no desire to listen to what is going on in class but rather try to escape the society through reading their comic books. However, this escaping through responsibilities is connected to the story of “Eveline.” Eveline has made a promise to her mother and does not know if she can keep it because of her wanting to get away from society and move to Buenos Ayes with Frank.

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