In his first novel, a collection of short stories meant to express the paralytic nature of turn-of-the-century Dublin, James Joyce establishes an image of the Irish urban center as a degenerate bed of unhappiness, deprivation, depression, and imprisonment. All of his characters face the daily trials of unsatisfying jobs, emotional isolation, and violent family members, and their stale hopes of escape and empowerment are unable to combat the dreary realities of Dublin life. Trapped in a world not of their own making, these individuals are consumed with loss, frustration, and failure, driven to drink and violence, the result of which being that they lose their capacity to effectively connect with one another, and so are forced to exist in a kind of emotional vacuum. It seems particularly important to Joyce to illustrate the inadequacies of love and marriage to ameliorate the lives of his characters, despite the dreams they have and the efforts they make to use love and marriage to better themselves. No relationship in the book succeeds in expressing that idealized bliss of marital status, and there are only brief moments when any of the couples in Dubliners manage to maintain even a moderate amount of happiness together. Joyce wastes no opportunity to demonstrate yet again the abuse, both verbal and physical, and mutual dislike so common in his Irish families, and demands that the reader acknowledge the unceasing cycle of victimization and failed escape that his characters face. From the youthful infatuation so bitterly dashed in Araby to the destructive truth of past love revealed in The Dead, no relationship is free from pain and suffering. Dubliners expresses an evolution of love which progresses from innocent infatuation, frustrated by immobility, to the onset of marriage as escape from family, poverty, and mundanity, to the ultimate realization that marriage is unable to solve the problems of its participants because love does not endure, and even if it did, Joyce seems to say, the problematic realities of life are too stable, too concrete to be destroyed by the tender emotion of love
[...] Her reverie does address the “hopes and visions of the future,” but nowhere does she pretend love for him; is it not perfectly plausible that she has been as calculating as her mother in hoping to find a decent man to marry? This marriage is not expected to be one of love by any of the parties; if Mr. Doran did not feel obliged to make some reparation for his sin, he might not have had any intention of proposing, and Mrs. [...]
[...] Lily's severe disillusionment about love and marriage may be a foreshadowing of difficulties to come for the happy couple, however. men that is now is only all palaver and what they can get out of you (Dubliners Lily retorts bitterly when Gabriel lightly teases her about her age and probably imminent marriage. This fierce reaction is indicative of the cynicism with which these Dubliners face the corrupt and pleasure less institution of marriage. Yet Gabriel and Gretta seem the exception to the rule, poking fun at one another good-naturedly, laughing with the Misses Morkan over the silly galoshes Gabriel has instituted. [...]
[...] The Dubliner in Eveline cannot trust the sweet promises of love and marriage, knowing they cannot save her from her paralytic fate. If marriage is sometimes thought of as escape, it can simultaneously be considered a trap of sorts. In Boarding House,” it oscillates between these two, as Mrs. Mooney executes a plan to get her daughter, Polly, married off. Mrs. Mooney is a rather unusual woman in the sense that she, when threatened by her husband, actually does manage to escape, if only a short distance. [...]
[...] Anthony Burgess says of Dubliners, All the stories in Dubliners are studies in paralysis or frustration, and the total epiphany is of the nature of modern city life the submission to routines and the fear of breaking them; the emancipation that is sought, but not sought hard enough; the big noble attitudes that are punctuated by the weakness of the flesh. Joyce's is depiction of love and marriage in the novel certainly follows Burgess' assertion. Though characters seek escape, both from unsatisfying family life by way of marriage, and from disappointing marriage by way of separation, none find the happiness of which they dream. [...]
[...] The development of romance in Dubliners focuses with great intensity on the perception of marriage and love as a means of escape from the mire of lifeless Dublin society. In the title character hopes that by marrying Frank, a sailor who promises to whisk her away to Buenos Ayres, she will be able to avoid a life like that which her mother lived, unfulfilling, painful, and short. Joyce clearly illustrates the kind of life Eveline knows will be her fate if she stays at home. [...]
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