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 frustration. ^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.