Personal Paralysis in Dubliners by James Joyce Essay

Personal Paralysis in Dubliners by James Joyce Essay

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Personal Paralysis in Dubliners by James Joyce

Imagine being paralyzed; unable to move freely. Most people when they think of paralization, it is connected to the physical. However, paralysis takes on more than one meaning and goes way beyond physicality. There are three definitions from Webster online:

1. Complete or partial loss of function especially when involving the motion or sensation in a part of the body
2. Loss of the ability to move
3. A state of powerlessness or incapacity to act

The first and second definitions are primarily about physical paralysis, however in the first one, “loss of function,” could be any kind of function. The final definition cuts deep because it goes beyond the physical and begins to dip into the psyche. Similar to losing a function, the power lost is ambiguous. Paralysis is weaved in and out of Dubliners through the various plots and characters in each short story. The stories of “The Sisters,” “An Encounter,” and “Eveline,” all portray characters who are stuck within Dublin in their own personal paralysis relative to each individual, either struggling to overcome it and escape, or recognizing their paralysis for the first time. Many readers however, would argue that the characters in these stories are all weak and powerless, and do not try hard enough to fix their problems which is expressed in “Eveline.”

The first story sets the tone for the entire book especially in the beginning paragraph, as James Joyce paints a picture of paralysis:

If he was dead, I thought, I would see the reflection of candles on the darkened blind for I knew that two candles must be set at the head of a corpse. He had often said to me: I am not long for this worl...

... middle of paper ...

...ralysis relative to their situation, in which spiritual, internal and mental paralysis was in effect. Paralysis is seeping through the street of Dublin affecting the people and thus society. Unfortunately, there is no solution presented and so people remain trapped. The three stories are all about common everyday people that anyone could come across walking the streets of Dublin, and it extends further in that these characters represent the majority of the people living in Dublin with paralysis. It is like a disease that has no cure and James Joyce intelligently constructs this into his work and subtly brings the problem into light for the reader and leaves the reader in thought and contemplation. Paralysis, while in Dublin, is a problem all over the world and it all comes down to exposing the paralysis and then facing it, but alas, it is easier said than done.

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