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Dubliners and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock


Several of Joyce's stories in Dubliners can read as lamentations. They
are showing the frustrated inability of man to represent meaning by
external means, including written word. When characters in ^Araby^,
and ^A Painful Case^ attempt to represent or signify themselves, other
characters or abstract spiritual entities with or through words, they
not only fail, but end up emotionally ruined. In T.S. Eliots^ poem, ^
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,^ the feeling relates to one
overall issue of emotional investment in representation. The poem
laments, and with this theme and the symbols used, it is signified
enough to be related to Joyce^s short stories in Dubliners.

The name of the story itself and the bazaar-within-the-story,
^Araby^ is the most crucial object of misdirected concentration
and sought signification. The boy explains, ^The symbols of
the word Araby were called to me through the silence in which
my soul luxuriated and cast on eastern enchantment over me.^
Joyce emphasizes the formal properties- ^syllables of the
word^- thus granting ^Araby^ a kind of physical, phonetic
importance beyond its external meaning. The narrator goes on
to describe ^Araby^ as ^the magical name.^ Throughout the
piece, the title-word ^Araby^ displays itself as a guiding
metaphor. The name of the poem by T.S. Eliot, ^The Love Song
of J. Alfred Prufrock^ is a misdirected concentration that is
significant. The title is very ironic. The irony is present
with the reader expecting the theme of love, but clashing that
idea with the boring and dry name of J. Alfred Prufrock. The
poem goes on to describe the journey as one, not of romantic,
heartfelt,! or brotherly love, but of one story of

^A Painful Case,^ demonstrates a more complicated signifying
condition. Early in the story, Joyce describes a piece of
literature by emphasizing its formal properties, not its
^content.^ ^In the desk lay a manuscript translation of
Hauptmann^s Michael Kramer, the stage directions of which were
written in a purple, and a little sheaf of papers held together
by a brass pin.^ The conspicuous ^purple ink^ and ^brass pin^
highlight the graphic qualities of Duffy^s volume. Joyce goes
on to describe Duffy^s odd treatment of the manuscript, again
emphasizing actions. ^In these sheets a sentence was inscribes
from time to time and, in an ironical moment, the headline of
an advertisement for Bile Beans had been pasted on the first
sheet. The infrequency of Duffy^s inscription and his ^ironic^
outlook toward the physical text are made clear. Any notion of
his feelings regarding the ^content^ or ^meaning^ of the text
is invisible of implicit. Joyce implies a sort of detachment
fro! m a conventional notion of textual meaning. In ^The Love
Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, many formal properties contrast. ^Let us
go then, you and I/ When the evening is spread out against the sky/
Like a patient etherized upon a table.^ Before you can dig deeper to
understand what Eliot is trying to say, you see image patterns that
bring you somewhere then stop you before you can get there.
In ^A Painful Case^ Duffy demonstrates skepticism and
disillusion with the notion of inter-personal communication
through representation. Duffy is reluctant to ^write out his
thoughts^ because he does not want ^to compete with
phrasemongers, incapable of thinking consecutively for sixty
seconds.^ He doubts that he could convey objective truth to
others. When Mrs. Sinico makes a romantic gesture in response
to his meditations on the incurable loneliness of the soul, he
reacts with disgust. Joyce writes, ^Her interpretation of his
words disillusioned him.^ The character seems unwilling or
unable to represent beliefs in universal truth to anyone. In
the poem, ^The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,^ the writer
shows you assumptions like, ^And time yet for a hundred
indecision^s, / And for a hundred visions and revisions.^
These assumptions stated seem disillusioned and to be
indecisive is to be doubtful. In the end, ^A Painful Case^ is
not painful to be exact, but more empty or ^numb.^ ^The Love
Song of J. Alfred Prufrock at the end gets empty with, ^And
turning toward the window, should say: / That is not it at all/
That is not what I meant, at all^ and also to the very end, ^By
sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown/ Till human
voices wake us, and we drown.^ In ^Araby^ the young boy is at a
loss in the end and alone. This feels empty. T.S. Eliot leads
you from potentiality to deflation and from energy to
impotence. Themes of confusion, loss, frustration, and
lamentation appear through these works. The works are not
overly depressing though, but in fact are beautiful and also
show a strong theme of the ^epiphany.^ In Dubliners, and in T.
S. Eliots^ poem I selected, I was gripped momentarily by a
quiet moment of realization of life. The poem was life and the
short stories in Dubliners showed life situations. I can
probably compare myself through my life to diffe! rent aspects
or situations described by these works.


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