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Styles and narrative techniques of Dubliners

Joyce writes Dubliners in a “a style of scrupulous meanness”, which means that in his work, he wants to achieve an effect of verisimilitude. He used, for example names of actual pubs and hotels, churches and other distinctive features of the social life of his city.

However, Joyce uses numerous symbols which makes his style unique and complicates the apparent simplicity of the stories, showing how complicated the life is.

Joyce’s decides to use the free indirect style for render the complexity of human experiences and he presents the variety of characters within his “choral” portray of the city.

The stylistic innovation of Joyce is the EPIPHANIC METHOD which is a “sudden spiritual manifestation (improvvisa manifestazione spirituale)”. The term “ephiphanic” comes from the Greek and means “showing”. It indicates that, through seemingly insignificant words or moves, characters reach moments of intense perception, an intense awareness (consapevolezza). This emotional peaks turn into revelations of states, which would have otherwise (altrimenti) remained hidden to the characters.

Themes and motifs

1) The paralysis of the inhabitants Joyce recognizes Dublin as “the center of paralysis”. The paralysis of Dublin and its inhabitants can takes different form, it can be:
* Physical paralysis
* Moral paralysis
* Emotional paralysis
* Psychological paralysis.

This paralysis manifests itself as corruption, lack of ambition or frustration. The characters seem generally unable to live their lives to the full, incapable of seeing the opportunities life places in front of them.
There are recurring images (motifs) which testify to the “disease” of paralysis affecting the city as a whole. For example: an empty fireplace in The Sisters, an old bicycle pump in Araby and an abandoned distillery in A Painful Case, can all be seen as images of dysfunction.

2) The corruption In Dubliners there are different images, which contribute to creating the “special odor of corruption” that Joyce detected floating over Dublin at the turn of the century. For example:
* The relationships between men and women, which is portrayed as difficult, ineffective and corrupted.
* The frequent images of failed masculinity.
* The frequent images of betrayals.
* The society, which seems to have a disabling effect on Dubliners as a whole, while emigration is often seen as the only possibility to find a better life.

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