James Joyce’s Dubliners

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In James Joyce’s 1914 Dubliners, many adult characters drink to revel in the temporary distraction it brings from the day-to-day monotony. Following the three initial stories exploring childhood in Dublin, the remaining twelve adult-centered stories all allude to or explicitly reference drinking or drunkenness. However, there is a comparative difference in the depth of mention between male and female drinkers in the novel. Only two women – Mr. Cunnigham’s wife in Grace and Mrs. Sinico in A Painful Case – are described in passing as succumbing to this vice, whereas there are ten detailed accounts of male drinkers – such as Farrington in Counterparts – where the entirety of the short story is focused on the male character. The underlying theme of excessive alcohol intake within the stories attests to the male characters’ emotional avoidance during the difficult period of Dubliners. It additionally examines the historically loose definition of alcoholism and the neurological, psychological, and social differences between male and female drinkers.
Alcoholism was not recognized as a diagnosable affliction in Ireland during the time of Dubliners. The absence of a medical definition leaves the reader with Joyce’s minimized terminology consisting of only the term “drunkard” – and even then it sparsely appears in the text. Both instances – once in The Boarding House and another in Grace – were during minor recollections of non-appearing individuals who were described as severe cases. The lack of definition for alcoholism in Dubliners can be understood through assessing the correlation between alcohol and Ireland’s tumultuous socioeconomic past.
Historically speaking, it is not uncommon to associate the cultural stereotype of heavy drinkin...

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...tely it came at a high cost. Sacrifice is the Dubliners’ silent theme. It remains in silence as those mourn the loss of identity and nation in the aimless pub crowds.

Works Cited

Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. "Men Are More Likely Than Women To Crave Alcohol When They Feel Negative Emotions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 May 2008. .
Joyce, James. Dubliners. New York: Modern Library, 1926. Print.
Urban, Nina B.l., Lawrence S. Kegeles, Mark Slifstein, Xiaoyan Xu, Diana Martinez, Ehab Sakr, Felipe Castillo, Tiffany Moadel, Stephanie S. O'malley, John H. Krystal, and Anissa Abi-Dargham. "Sex Differences in Striatal Dopamine Release in Young Adults After Oral Alcohol Challenge: A Positron Emission Tomography Imaging Study With [11C]Raclopride." Biological Psychiatry 68.8 (2010): 689-96. Print.
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