Arleana Joe Research Paper-James Joyce English 1102
Alongside the dawn of the twentieth century appeared an author by the name of James Joyce.
In the early twentieth century, Ireland, and more specifically Dublin, was a place defined by class distinctions.
There were the wealthy, worldly upper-class who owned large, stately townhouses in the luxurious neighborhoods and the less fortunate, uneducated poor who lived in any shack they could afford in the middle of the city. For the most part, the affluent class was Protestant, while the struggling workers were overwhelmingly Catholic. These distinctions were the result of nearly a century of disparity in income, education, language, and occupation, and in turn were the fundamental bases for the internal struggle that many of Joyce’s characters feel.
Torn between the life they lead and the one they dream of, these people are reflections of the harsh setting in which Joyce himself spent his life.
Although Joyce never explicitly explains why his main characters in “A Little Cloud”, “Eveline,” “Counterparts,” and “The Boarding House” are so deprived, it is clear that they are at an unfair disadvantage in some way. Eveline Counterparts
He uses them to spotlight and protest the hardships that so many people of Dublin were forced to endure simply because of their religion and its effects on the other aspects of their lives.
The Irish-Catholics of Dublin in this era were overwhelmingly poverty-stricken, especially when compared to the English people who controlled the government and businesses.
Eveline looks out her window onto the street below, she notes that a man walking by is headed toward “the new red houses” (Joyce 329). She talks of how the area used to be a field full of carefree children, but is now nothing more than a plot of dwellings, presumably built to accommodate the wealthy as they move to the country, that contrast sharply with her own. She also delights at sitting with Frank in an area of the theater that was unfamiliar to her, probably because she could not normally afford the seats.
In “A Little Cloud,” Little Chandler passes a number of underprivileged, dirty children in the street but takes no notice of them, illustrating how common this scene was in the poorer areas of Dublin. Joyce also spends some time describing the establishment in which Little Chandler meets with Gallaher. He points out to the reader that Little Chandler did not have enough money to even consider entering the tavern before; he could not even hire a servant to help with the baby or pay off the furniture.
The organization of Irish schools also contributed to class distinctions in Dublin. (Ledden 329-30). Roughly 25 to 30 percent of Irish children in the year 1800 could read and write English; most of the other 70 percent were Catholic.
Anthony Burgess comments, “Joyce has cunningly chosen words that demonstrate very well the main phonic differences between the speech-systems of the English and Irish capitals” (46).
After becoming adults, Catholic Dubliners were kept in menial occupations, and therefore poverty, because of their second-class education and self-betraying dialect. Even if they were considered for a high-paying job, many employers would dismiss them after hearing them speak.
Joyce demonstrates this frustration in “Counterparts” by setting a large part of the action in a place of work. Farrington’s occupation is that of a scrivener; this job is often used in literature to signify a “meaningless man, a victim of the brute forces of society” (Hagopian 121). “A very ordinary man, Farrington, trapped by economic need and too weak to rebel, is turned into a brute who visits upon his innocent son at night the ignominy and punishment he has suffered himself all day,” comments Florence L. Walzl (226). A scrivener (or scribe) was traditionally a person who could read and write. This usually indicated secretarial and administrative duties such as dictations and keeping business, judicial, and history records for kings, nobles, temples and cities. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrivener)
All of these distinctions between the upper and lower classes created struggle in the lives of many Dubliners, and Joyce reflects this in his short stories.
Several factors, most obviously religion and its impact on income, education, language, and career, caused the residents of early twentieth century Dublin to be divided into distinct social classes. This Irish caste system caused many poor citizens to dream of lives that they could never attain. Many of Joyce’s characters reflect this inner struggle and resentment of the wealthy and successful. By highlighting the harsh conditions endured by the poor Catholics of early twentieth century Dublin, he is speaking out and rebelling against these conventionally acceptable practices and the unending cycle of poverty and hardship that they perpetuated.
I've put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I Meant, and that's the only way of insuring one's immortality. ~James Joyce
Work Cites Barrett, Marie. “A Student’s Critical Reading of Images in ‘Eveline.’” The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael Meyer. Boston, MA: Bedford Books, 1996. 348. Burgess, Anthony. “The Dublin Sound.” James Joyce: Modern Critical Views. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986. 45-52. Joyce, James. “The Boarding House.” The Bedford Introduction to Literature. 332-37. “ Counterparts.” Dubliners. New York: Viking Press, 1968. 86-98. “ Eveline.” The Bedford Introduction to Literature. 329-31 “ A Little Cloud.” The Bedford Introduction to Literature. 337-45. Ledden, Patrick J. “Education and Social Class in Joyce’s Dublin.” Journal of Modern Literature 22.2 (1998): 329-36.