Gender Roles in Joyce's Dubliners

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Joyce's Influence on Gender Roles

While reading the collection of stories we redundantly find ourselves drawn to the female characters. Most of the works feature either a distinctive woman protagonist or an established woman as the attention of the protagonist. Although we get a mixed feeling for what exactly Joyce wants us to understand about women at the time of the book's publication, we get the overwhelming feeling that these female characters are meant to provoke an attraction from its readers. In Richard Brown's book, James Joyce and Sexuality, he writes, “the treatment of sexuality was of the utmost importance to Joyce’s creativity and at the heart of what his fiction might be trying to investigate” (Brown, xxi). Whether these women are trapped in a world of political, religious, or marital unrest they can't seem to escape, or are the primary focal point for the male narrator, these prominent women serve as imperative roles in the major themes of Dubliners. Eveline, Maria and Gretta are Joyce's attempts to place women into a society he believes functions better without a marital institution. Joyce's notorious criticism of the modernistic approach of women opposed to their traditional counterparts is reflected and contradicted in these three stories. He uses these female protagonists to identify with his own personal life, in which he refuses to marry his long term “companion”, Nora. He declined the conformity into the conventional lifestyle that was expected of him and “was able to reassert the advanced notion that 'Paternity is a legal fiction' and to maintain his resistance to 'the atrocities of the average husband'” (Brown, 15). After we accustom ourselves with his ideology it becomes easier to interpret why he chooses to place his female protagonists as helpless women who seem to be victims of their inescapable lives. While he hints that female figures have been the source of help throughout his life he also asserts that he detects intellectual...
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