UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The Theme of class in James Joyce's Dubliners Clee, David Glyndwr


There is evidence throughout the stories, and in Joyce's letters, to show that Dubliners should be considered as a single entity rather than as a series of unconnected short stories. This thesis examines Joyce's presentation of Dublin's middle class as a unifying principle underlying the whole work. Joyce believed that his city was in the grip of a life-denying "paralysis", and this thesis studies his attempt in Dubliners to relate that paralysis to those attitudes towards experience which his Dubliners hold in common. The stories in Dubliners are grouped to form a progression from childhood through adolescence to maturity and public life. This progression reveals the nature of Dublin's middle class and its effect on its individual member throughout his life. Childhood is a time of comparative freedom, and adolescence shows the individual's increasing conformity to the standards and values of his class. By the time he reaches maturity he is totally trapped in that paralysis reflected in the corruption of the public institutions. The nature of the middle class is revealed by four sub-themes which I designate: "religion," "adventure", "love", and "culture". For the purposes of this analysis the stories are grouped according to these thematic divisions, but Joyce's own order is always taken into consideration. Chapters 1 to IV each examines one of these sub-themes. In Chapter V, "The Dead", which embraces all of these aspects of experience, is treated separately.

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