Importance of the Journey in James Joyce’s Dubliners Essays

Importance of the Journey in James Joyce’s Dubliners Essays

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Importance of the Journey in James Joyce’s Dubliners

"In Ireland the inevitable never happens and the unexpected constantly occurs." Sir John Pentland Mahaffy describes Ireland in a way comparable to James Joyce’s depiction of Ireland in his book Dubliners. Joyce wrote his book of short stories to show how he viewed Dublin and its inhabitants. Joyce did not have positive memories of Dublin and his book casts a negative image upon almost all of Dublin. In Dubliners, James Joyce uses characters and their journeys through society to give his perception of Dublin.

In Joyce’s stories with journeys there are many unknown elements to the characters and often their original goals are not accomplished. One story where a character goes on a journey through society is in “An Encounter.” In the story a group of boys hear of a place called the “Pigeon House.” Two boys decide to skip school and go on a journey for the house that they heard about from their friends. There are many unknowns for the boys. The boys have some idea where they are going but they do not know the path well at all. They say “We arranged to go along Wharf Road until we came to the ships, then to cross in the ferryboat and walk out to see the Pigeon House” (13). Joyce’s perception of people planning to go on a journey and not really knowing what they are about to experience shows Joyce’s perception of some people in Dublin. He shows that some in Dublin will go on some aimless journeys with no real sense of direction to gain nothing but experience some sort of adventure.

Another unknown element of the journey is the people that the boys come in contact with, specifically an old man that they meet in a field. The old man has an erratic personality and scares the y...


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...e that completes what he sets out to do. Only that character dies. It seems that if Michael was the representation of the small successful portion of Dublin, and he dies. This is the first story where one of the prominent characters dies in the story. Michael’s death makes the other living characters around him to seem even more inferior. This journey story is different than most others in the book yet its ending ties up all the other stories.

James Joyce uses individuals and their journey through society to give his perception of Dublin. The journeys that take place in Dubliners have many different aspects but all seem to give the same portrayal of the people of Dublin. From what the characters set out to do to the unknown elements that they experienced and the people that they met along the way, all of Joyce’s stories give insight to Dublin and its inhabitants.

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