Theme Of Alcoholism In James Joyce's Dubliners

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James Joyce published Dubliners to demonstrate the everyday struggles and the unattractive human behaviors that were occurring among the people in his own hometown. Paralysis, alcoholism and death are three major themes found in Dubliner’s that paint an unsettling picture of Dublin, Ireland during the early twentieth century for its readers. James Joyce portrays his characters within these stories as incapable and crippled in one-way or another. He does this by exploiting the act of drinking to prove that alcoholism leads to personal downfalls, which is a repeating theme found in many of the stories. Roughly twelve out of the fifteen stories in this book do not go without a reference to drinking or drunkenness. The characters found victim to…show more content…
James Joyce highlights the complicated role alcohol plays in “Grace” but also in the lives of the Irish lower-middle class in 1914. Mr. Tom Kernan is the main character in this story who is battling alcoholism due to his recent misfortunes. The story opens with an unknown man lying unconscious at the foot of the stairs with injuries to his head in one of the local pubs. When we are first introduced to Mr. Kernan, the readers are not aware of his name. This anonymous drunk found on the floor with blood everywhere is barely recognizable. "He lay curled up at the foot of the stairs down which he had fallen...his clothes were smeared with the filth and ooze of the floor on which he had lain...a thin stream of blood trickled from the corner of his mouth" (Joyce 150). This literal fall down the stairs also refers to the social and mental fall Mr. Kernan has personally faced due to his economic situation. The people that gather around him neglect his need for immediate care and instead of rushing to care for him, their concern was more towards figuring out who he was. This sense of calmness leads us readers to believe that occurrences such as Mr. Kernan’s seem to be common as well as taken lightly among the lower middle class in Dublin. At a certain point in the story, Mr. Cunningham who is one of Kernan’s friends suggests what every reader is thinking. Mr.…show more content…
All of the stories mentioned above, “Counterparts”, “Grace” and “A Painful Case” possess a common theme of the role of alcohol in the characters lives. Similarly, in all three of these stories the characters seem to be socially forbidden to address alcohol as the problem found in common. Failing to see alcohol as an issue present in the culture of Dublin, the lack of responsibility among the people of Dublin led to alcoholism consuming their lives as well as the city of

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