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The short story compilation called the Dubliners was written by James Joyce during a troubled time of his life. This has had a great effect on the outcome of the stories which have proven themselves to be grim, sad and rather odd. One of the many recurring motifs found in the short stories in the Dubliners volume is paralysis. What needs to be duly noted about this motif is the fact that paralysis was not necessarily a physical statement. This being said, it is safe to claim the fact that in this particular work by James Joyce, paralysis was a complex feeling, with moral, intellectual, spiritual and physical repercussions.
In the first short story of the volume called “The Sisters”, James Joyce introduces a young boy who narrates the story. He is troubled by the death of his friend Father Flynn who suffered from paralysis due to multiple strokes. At first, the very first term paralysis scared him, filling him with fear and rendering him incapable to move. However, as he lingered thinking about his late friend, the concept of paralysis started to fascinate him. He is a character that has the strong desire to face certain obstacles, in this case the death of a friend, but feels that he is incapacitated. This inability to continue what he has started shows his weakness, as he cannot change his life and how he acts.
The feeling of fascination towards the concept of paralysis is found in other stories in the Dubliners as well. The young boy that tells the story “Araby” stops himself in the center of a market, surrounded by darkness and being aware of the fact that he will never be able to escape from the city of Dublin and know true love. This incapacity of moving on is actually the motif of paralysis, taking for into spiritual and moral inability. He too fells fascinated about this feeling, as he constantly tries to remind himself about previous events, with the desire to move on the the inability to do so.
The motif of physical paralysis can be encountered in another one of the stories in the Dubliners volume. “Eveline” is a story that centers on the actions of a woman who recalls moments of her childhood. During this recollection moment, she feels paralyzed, sensing the terror of leaving her childhood home and experiencing feelings away from the place she grew up in. While thinking of her past Eveline suffers from a pitfall into those memories, making her incapable of seeing herself away from the place she so desperately clings to.
To come to a conclusion, the motif of paralysis is a pungent element in the stories found in the Dubliners compilation by James Joyce. As a matter of fact, the feelings that the characters experience when they think of paralysis are very complex, making them feel overwhelmed. All in all, apart from the moral, intellectual, spiritual and physical sides of the paralysis feelings, the motif also has another meaning. All through the collection of stories, this stifling state seems to be everlasting, as part of a routine in the city of Dublin. Furthermore, the paralytic state evoke the theme of death because the characters described experiencing this feeling enter a state of utter numbness, either physical or psychical, out of which they can difficultly escape.
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