Literary Essay - The Stylistic Devices Used to Present the Theme of Paralysis in Joyce's Dubliners

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1316 Words
Date:  2021-09-01


Changes call for innovation, and innovation leads to progress. Certainly, Dublin is engulfed in a paralytic state of profound social and economic regression. Dubliners uses deep satire not only to point out the slumbering state of the Irish people but also serves a as a wakeup call to jerk he residents to action. The theme of paralysis is evident throughout the novel some in plain white and black, while others are subtle. At the onset, the writer uses contrast as he posits, THERE is no hope for him in this time. The line shows that Dublin was thriving at some point and is currently on e path to inexplicable deterioration. The deliberate use of the capital letter right at the onset sets the tone for the entire novel. Essentially, the people are living in a viscous circle that can only be undone through action and relentless desire to move towards positive change. Evidently, the author uses various stylistic styles to depict the theme of paralysis throughout the novel, Dubliners.

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Eveline: Repetition, Flashback, and the Desperation of Paralysis

Joyce uses various stylistic devices to depict the theme of paralysis in Eveline. First, she uses repetition in various occasions. The phrase Derevaun Seraun! Derevaun Seraun! is essentially a phonic symbol of death that Eveline notices at a subconscious level, and is used in various occasions. Eveline also tries to convince or to comfort herself by stating, Frank would have save her. He would have saved her. The latter phrase shows the level of desperation in Evelines voice as she talks of the hopelessness that prevails. Additionally, the use of flashback is quite evident. For example, when Eveline sat near the window pondering on her consent to go away she remembers her childhood, and her abusive father. There was the invariable squabble for money as well and the hard work of taking care of the house, which means that she is wishing for the past glory days. The present seemingly portends doom. Closely related to the latter is the use of flash-forward. She envisions her supervisor at work being glad that she left, and recalls the details of what Miss Gavan has always criticized. The use of the flash-forward helps her to temporarily escape from the reality of the gruesome Dublin life, albeit temporarily. The author uses simile in the last line of the story when she asserts, she set her white face to him, passive, like a helpless animal (last line). The line denotes a degree of helplessness or paralysis that the situation portends. In addition, Joyce uses a metaphor, the phrase Going to Buenos Ayres meant taking up a life of promiscuity, which is equivalent to death or paralysis in the end.

Symbolism and Character Features: Unveiling Paralysis in Araby

The author uses symbolism extensively in Araby in order to emphasize the theme of paralysis and to show the features of the characters found in the story. Joyce starts the audience off by sating North Richmond Street, being blind, was the blind, was quite a street except for the hour when the Christian brothers Schools set the boys free. Paralysis in the context of the novel could mean the oblivion associated utter lack of wisdom or knowledge that seemingly kills the soul and humanity at large. The insinuation that the street is blind at one point connotes the lifelessness associated with lack of knowledge comparable only to the darkness that befalls a street during a blackout. Apparently, the ensuing presence of knowledge, illumination, or enlightenment causes the kids not to be blind to uninhabited house. The latter statement means that an individual that gains knowledge or a degree of enlightenment breaks away from ignorance or lack of religious insight. The church in the story therefore is symbolic of the only means that from mental paralysis. In addition, the priest is symbolic of religious awareness. In addition, the phrase, the houses had grown somber depicts the lifeless state that the narrator encountered. Moreover, the narrator asserts, I wish I could tell her my adoration, paints a picture of regret that normally accompanies lost or wasted opportunities.

Personification and Imagery: Breathing Life into Paralysis in Araby

The author also uses personification in Araby, to bring inanimate objects to life and to improve the quality of storytelling. He posits, The other houses of the street, conscious of decent lives within them, gazed with brown imperturbable faces, which animates the houses. Simultaneously, the statement presents the houses as living while the people found therein are in a state of constant unconsciousness or paralysis. The mentioned statement also employs metaphor as a stylistic device. The phrase imperturbable faces normally connotes two unrelated happenings or objects that share similar features. Moreover, the statement infers the use of the word like, which is a simile, as the metaphor depict that the house is like an unchanging and calm face.

Sensory Details and Monologue: Evoking Paralysis in Joyce's Araby

Joyce appeals imagery through the provision of sensory details. Air, musty form having been long enclosed, hung in all rooms, and the waste room behind the kitchen littered with old useless paper. The above description provides a mental picture that certainly shows the degree of lifelessness in the house, meaning that the owner is either dead or unresponsive. The calculated use of the term musty appeals to the sense of smell while the description littered waste room appeals to the sense of sight, thereby creating perfect imagery. Finally, Joyce uses monologue to bring out the lifelessness of some of the charcters. For instance, the narrator says, Oh love! Oh love!

Symbols and Dark Images: Faith, Reason, and Paralysis in The Sisters

In the Sisters Joyce uses symbols and dark images as a way of differentiating or depicting faith and reason. The images mainly show the dark or the unpleasant side of Dublin. For example, I am not ling for this world paints the picture of death. The use of contrasting images, such us that of darkness, and light goes long way to bring the story to life. Darkness appears when the priest, Father Lynn, lies in his deathbed, paralyzed. When the Family went up to the altar, there he lay solemn and copious. Therefore, the author uses the image of light, which essentially stands to for redemption or hope, to postulate the state of physical paralysis that the priest is engulfed in. Again, the narrator says, Had he not been dead I would have gone into a little dark room behind the shop to find him sitting in his arm chair, which contrasts the priests current state (dead) with his former state.

Contrasting Images and the Power of Light: Paralysis in The Sisters

Later, the narrator finds it hard to fall asleep because he remembers the priests grey face that brings forth nightmares. Despite the boy trying to think of something else that could get his mind off things, but the grey face still followed him. The line shows the paralyzing fear that accompanies memories of death and despair that forms part of Dublin. Moreover, the confessional booth, which is normally a symbol of hope and redemption, is quite dark (Par. VIII). Therefore, the ensuing circumstances cast a shadow of hopelessness even in the most sacred of places. Finally, the author uses flashback to bring out the theme of paralysis and to make the occurrences livelier. remembered old Cotters words and tried to remember what happened afterwards. I remembered that I had noticed long velvet curtains and swinging lamps of antique fashion. The statement certainly brings out an image of a ceremony such as death.


There is a dark cloud of despair and desperation that hangs over Dublin. The situation is certainly hopeless. The author uses various stylistic devices that include symbolism, personification, and imagery to tell the story about the evident suffering of the Dubliners. The desperation of the Dublin life forces the residents to live in a state of suspense between life and death, paralysis. The author uses different stylistic devices to depict the profound futility associated with engaging in various life-sustaining actions. In this regard, the styles are used to depict the most dominant motif, paralysis, which defines the life in Dublin.

Work Cited

Joyce, James. "Dubliners. 1914." Harmondworth: Penguin (1992).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Essay:

Q: What is James Joyce's Dubliners about?

A: Paralysis. The novel chronicles Dublin's significant social and economic deterioration as well as its inhabitants' helplessness to change anything about their situation.

Q: In Dubliners, how does James Joyce employ stylistic devices to explore the theme of paralysis?

A: James Joyce utilizes various stylistic devices to depict paralysis in Dubliners. Repetition, flashback, and flash-forward are used by Eveline to emphasize her sense of hopelessness; symbolism and personification bring inanimate objects to life, emphasizing their lifelessness; imagery captures vivid mental pictures to enhance themes further; while in Araby symbolism and personification bring inanimate characters alive; imagery also plays an integral part in creating vivid mental pictures that enhance themes further; imagery provides vivid mental pictures for The Sisters which depict paralysis as well as despair - even after three books!

Q: In your view, what role does symbolism play in Dubliners and its exploration of paralysis?

A: Dubliners use symbolism extensively when depicting paralysis. Elements like Araby's blind street and church represent a lack of knowledge as well as possible solutions to mental paralysis; while The Sisters uses darkness/light contrast and a confessional booth to depict states of paralysis/hope. Through all three stories in Dubliners, symbolism aids readers in understanding this theme as it affects the characters' lives.

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Literary Essay - The Stylistic Devices Used to Present the Theme of Paralysis in Joyce's Dubliners. (2021, Sep 01). Retrieved from

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