Two Gallants – James Joyce
Renowned Irish modernist, James Joyce wrote ‘The Dubliners’ at the turn of the 20th century and the novel was published at the height of Irish Nationalism in 1914. The realist fiction draws on three main characters who each, individually exemplify the Irish working middle class while under English control. The story reveals Joyce’s detached and unsympathetic attitude towards his homeland and as he said to his Publisher, “I seriously believe that you will retard the course of civilisation in Ireland by preventing the Irish people from having one good look at themselves in my nicely polished looking glass.” (Attridge 37) At the heart of this literary work there is a conflict between the imperial power, being the British Empire and Catholic Church and the original Irish inhabitants. The literature explores themes such as paralysis and betrayal. As many critics have suggested, the story particularly “lays blame with the Catholic Church and England for Irish Paralysis.” (Cliffsnotes) In addition, Joyce has used several other literary techniques to relay his message including characterisation, irony, imagery and symbolism. Through Characterisation of Corley, Lenehan and the servant girl or ‘slavey’ Joyce reflects on the middle class people living in Ireland today. Ironically, neither man is chivalrous, respectful gallant. The reader is led to feel absolutely no remorse or sympathy towards all three main characters, as they all engage in betrayal and deception. It is more than possible, that Joyce chose such traits, to demonstrate the damage Irish people succumbed to as a direct result of British colonisation. Corley is an ‘insensitive’ womanizer and a gambler who regularly exploits women for money. Lenehan, a typical middle class Irishman whose father was the inspector of police, he has little to do in his spare time as he is unemployed thus is only to eager to join in with Corley’s spiteful scheme. Joyce’s characterisation of the...
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