Two Gallants Essay

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Two Gallants

A short story by James Joyce published in his 1914 collection Dubliners.

Two men, Lenehan and Corley, are walking the streets of central Dublin on a Sunday evening. Corley dominates the conversation telling Lenehan about a girl he has recently seduced, a maid who works for a wealthy family. He brags about how the girl supplies him with cigars and cigarettes, which she steals from the family. Corley considers his relationship with this girl superior compared to when he used to ask women out and spend money on them. The two men have arranged a meeting with the maid, where the aim is to convince the maid to bring them money, stolen from her employees. Corley has a date with the girl later that evening, and before he leaves Lenehan to see her, the two of them arrange to meet up later. Meanwhile Lenehan aimlessly walks the streets of Dublin to pass the time. He stops into a bar, for a meal and a beer. While he eats his dinner, he sadly reflects on his life. Lenehan leaves the bar and makes his way to meet Corley at the appointed hour. When Corley arrives he shows Lenehan the golden coin, as a sign that the plan was successful.

James Joyce sets up expectations, which he all violates. Like in the title “Two Gallants” you immediately get the impression, that this is a love story about to fine gentlemen. This impression is reinforced by the first sequence, where Joyce describes the city and ambiance:

“The grey warm evening of August had descended upon the city and a mild warm air, a memory of summer circulated in the streets shuttered for the shuttered for the repose of Sunday, swarmed with a gaily coloured crowd. Like illumined pearls the lamps shone from the summits of their tall poles on the living texture below which, changing shape and hue unceasingly, sent up into the warm grey evening air an unchanging, unceasing murmur” (p.1, l.1)

Dublin is in this sequence presented by a third-person narrator as a very idyllic and...
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