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english study notes 3.doc

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ANTH 3030
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Study Guide

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Themes, Motifs, and Symbols:
restrictive routines and the repetitive, mundane details of everyday life mark the lives
of Joyce’s Dubliners and trap them in circles of frustration, restraint, and violence.
Routine affects characters who face difficult predicaments, but it also affects characters
who have little open conflict in their lives.
the most consistent consequences of following mundane routines are loneliness and
unrequited love
the circularity of these Dubliners lives effectively traps them, preventing them from
being receptive to new experiences and happiness
Desire/Need for escape:
the characters in Dubliners may be citizens of the Irish capital, but many of them long
for escape and adventure in other countries. Such longings, however, are never actually
realized by the stories protagonists
the impulse to escape from unhappy situations defines Joyce’s Dubliners, as does the
inability to actually undertake the process.
Intersection of Life and Death:
Dubliners opens with “The Sisters,” which explores death and the process of
remembering the dead, and closes with “The Dead,” which invokes the quiet calm of
snow that covers both the dead and the living
these stories bookend the collection and emphasize its consistent focus on the
meeting point between life and death
the dead cast a shadow on the present, drawing attention to the mistakes and failures
that people make generation after generation; such overlap underscores Joyce’s
interest in life cycles and their repetition, and also his concern about those “living dead”
figures like Maria in “Clay” who move through life with little excitement or emotion
except in reaction to everyday snags and delays
the monotony of Dublin life leads Dubliners to live in a suspended state between life
and death, in which each person has a pulse but is incapable of profound, life-
sustaining action
in most of the stories in Dubliners, a character has a desire, faces obstacles to it, then
ultimately relents and suddenly stops all action. These moments of paralysis show the
characters’ inability to change their lives and reverse the routines that hamper their
characters experience both great and small revelations in their everyday lives,
moments that Joyce himself referred to as “epiphanies,” a word with connotations of
religious revelation
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