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The book Dubliners was published in 1914, by James Joyce. He wanted to give the audience a vivid and solid background of the inescapable cycle the Irish Society was going through. In the stories Counterparts, Encounter and the Dead we can see the theme of laciness, entertainment, work, and frustrated goals that lead to alcoholism. In "Counterparts" Joyce introduces us the story of a man named Farrington, which works at a clerking office, copying legal documents and correspondence by hand. Farrington lives an awful and frustrating life were alcoholism seems to help him escape the sad reality that he is living. Then in an "Encounter" we can see the reality of two kids, Mahoney and Leo. They represent what a kid life is. It is a live were responsibility is not a primary value and their inexperience leads them to crazy choices in search of adventures. Finally, we have "the Death" one of the most complex stories in the book Dubliners. In "The Dead" we see all the characteristics of the stories come together at the party in Missis Morkan house. The principal character in this story is Gabriel and Gretta. Through him we can get a small picture of Dublin's society. It is the story of a man that feels powerless when his wife thinks of an old love. In this story we see many of the themes discuses through the readings, especially autonomy and sense of duty. As reading these different stories we will have to analyze them in depth. In Dubliners we can see that "alcohol" is a frequent tool used to run away reality. But all the characters in this stories can seem to escape an undesirable destiny.
It is one of the saddest time in Ireland were the people is trying to recuperate from the great depression caused by the Great Famine at that time. In the first story "Counterparts" we see how Farrigtons life is being affected by the Great Depression Ireland was going though. He had a tedious work were he didn't gain many money to make a dissent life. Since the beginning of the story we can see that Farrington hates his work. He dosent do his work on time and leaves everything to last minute. The boss is constantly remembering and telling Farrington what to do.
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In the story "An Encounter" we see three kids trying to find a new adventure, escaping their reality and leaving in a fantasy world. At the beginning of the story we see Joe, Leo and Mahoney playing games based on the Wild West magazines with his friends. "He looked like some kind of an Indian when he capered round the garden, an old tea-cosy on his head, beating a tin with his fist and yelling: Ya! yaka, yaka, yaka!"(11). By reading this quote we can see that they are kids with illusions, full of happiness, life, and a great desire of trying new things. Next morning in class Leo hands in his history paper and the teacher yields at him saying "Let me not find any more of this wretched stuff in this college. The man who wrote it, I suppose, was some wretched scribbler that writes these things for a drink. I'm surprise that boys like you, educated, reading, and such stuff. I could understand it if you were.National School boys. Now, Dillion, I advise you strongly, get at your work or." (12). Leo still is a little an immature kid; it shows in the paper he wrote. Then the three kids plan a great adventure, but they have to skip school to accomplish it. The next morning the kids decided to skip school and meet in front of the "Canal Bridge" to start their desire adventure. "We waited on for a quarter of an hour more but still there was no sign of Leo Dillion. Mahony, at last said: Come along. I knew Fatty'd funk it" (14). That's when they started their adventure. This act can be seen as a immature and irresponsible. Irresponsible, because the kids miss school, one of their biggest responsibilities and task. Immature, because they still kids that don't know much about how the real word is, also they still unprepared and unaware for all the responsibilities and dangers it holds. But even though they tried to behave as adults we can see that they still have a curfew that have to be follow. " It was to late and we were tired to carry out our project of visiting the Pigeon House. We had to be home before four o'clock lest our adventure should be discovered" (16). I t is important to understand that this journey mean a lot to those kids, it was the passage to independence. Like people in Dublin, the kids did not conquer their desire adventure. After all the boy and Mahony never made it to the Pigeon House. The kids were too tired to go to the Pigeon House, they pause in a field, where they meet a strange old man. At the begging he seems to be agreeing with the fact that girls are good but then his attitude changes and turns all the way around. The old man starts to make harsh comments about girls, showing his frustration towards the kids. "He seemed to have forgotten his recent liberalism. He said that if ever he found a boy talking to girls or having a girl for a sweetheart he will whip him and whip him; and that would teach him not to be talking to girls" ( 19). The old men represent the world. The world which the kids are scared because they are not really and truly ready to assume adult responsibilities. The kids can not confront the reality. That's why at the beginning of the story they decided to skip school, in order to take a break of the school life.
In the story "The Dead" we can see Gabriel and Greta, our principal characters. Both can be good examples of what it is autonomy and responsibility mixed with journey and escape. Gabriel loves Gretta with all his heart and would do anything for her because he feels committed and responsible since Gretta always showed a lot of love towards him. A good example will be when she nursed Gabriel's mother through her long and ultimately illness. After the party Gabriel and Gretta go back to the hotel they were staying, but Gretta seems to be indifferent and confesses Gabriel that the song that "The Lass of Aughrim," has reminded her of a boy she used to love when she was a young girl. " While he had been full of memories of their secret life together, full of tenderness and joy and desire, she had been comparing him in her mind with another" (221). This shows the sense of guit that Gretta feels, because she is thinking of another man while she is already with Gabriel. At the same time Gretta feels responsible of her thoughts, when she remme\bers the bautifual life Michael Furey and her had together. Gretta also feels responsible of Michael Furey's death since he waited outside the rain for her, essential cause of his dead. Gabriel frustrated, thinking that he was not man enough starts to think about his life with Gretta. "Generous tears filled Gabriel's eyes. He had never felt like that himself towards any woman but he knew that such a feeling must be love. The tears gather more thickly in his eyes and in the partial darkness he imagined he saw the form of a young man standing under a dripping tree" ( 224). Gabriel is defeat with humiliation and shame looks at her and thinks, without anger, about her past romance, feeling what a poor part he has truly played in her life." His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead" (225). At the end he feels his soul merge with the living people and the dead people, in this case referring to Michael Furey. He still feels that his wife Gretta will never forget Michael because he was and still is her true love.
Dubliners is a great book that teaches the reader through the characters how the society in Ireland was, back in those days. It is a book with many social themes themes that not only represent this society but can also merge with ours. Through the book we see the life of Farrington, a man how escapes reality by drinking, The boy and Mahony, which experience the world of adulthood by skipping school one day, and finally, Gabriel and Gretta that present how married couples should show a sense of responsibility and respect. Personally, I recommend this book to everyone. Maybe we don't live in Ireland or Dublin. But our society is very similar and we can see many similar characteristics that are very much alike. For example, in our society many people have alcoholic problems like Farrington. Sometimes they are cause by stress, work, family or unknown situations. We can also see many Mahony, kids that think that are ready to confront real life but they really aren't . Finally, we may see married couples like Gretta and Gabriel confronting similar situations that some time can never be solved. Indirectly what Joyce has to say in this book matters to all, because we are all a society that works together for the advantage of everyone. Using as an example the city of Dublin, believe it or not Dublin inspires us to do better so that our society does not fall in the inescapable cycle these people live.