James Joyce 's The Dubliners Essay

James Joyce 's The Dubliners Essay

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Humans are a very mental species - not mental as in insane, but mental as in trapped in our own minds. With only one set of eyes to see, one set of hands to create, one brain to think and problem-solve, oftentimes humans have difficulty not just seeing the world from another’s perspective, but acknowledging the other perspective at all. The word sonder is described as the realization that each person passing by is living a life just as complicated and vivid as one’s own, and is a common theme throughout James Joyce’s The Dubliners. From Gabriel’s judgmental attitude in “The Dead” to __________’s ______________ in “___________________,” we see characters come to realize the complexity of the lives of those around them, and how when those two lives clash the outcome may not be what they want - or expect.
Mr. Duffy of “A Painful Case” lives a life of routine - the same job, the same diner, the same lack of people every day. And yet, when a wrench is thrown in that routine, he abandons it, leaving him with lifelong anger and regret. While her husband is out of town, a woman by the name of Mrs. Sinico begins a slight affair with Mr. Duffy, only for him to cut off all contact when he finds things going too far. Four years later, he discovers she likely committed suicide by stepping in front of a train, and his rejection of her may well be the cause. Mr. Duffy takes a walk to clear his head. “He had denied her life and happiness... he heard in his ears the laborious drone of the engine reiterating the syllables of her name” (88). The symbolism of the engine - a train engine - shows the connection that Mrs. Sinico and Mr. Duffy continue to share through their sadness and depression. The story ends with the withdrawn Mr. Duffy finally...


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...he awareness of his own ignorance is so powerful, he finds it difficult to fully grasp. But at the end of it all, he once again thinks of only himself, reclusing into his own emotions of confusion and hopelessness and longing. The story ends with no real answer as to Gabriel’s fate - now armed with the knowledge he doesn’t love his wife, and that her first love had died for her, it could very well be that he took his own life, but the reader never truly knows for sure.
It is incredibly easy to forget that others’ lives continue once we exit them, whether we enter them at all. While it seems like a simple topic to understand, the idea of “out of sight, out of mind” eludes conscious memory constantly. It may be difficult to fully grasp the idea of each human being an individual, but those in The Dubliners fail to do so consistently, and always end up the fool for it.

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