A Mother Critical Analysis Essay

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A Mother’ ‘A Mother’ is one of the short stories that is part of James Joyce’s literary masterpiece Dubliners. The themes that run through this short story, and indeed the book itself, are: Simony, Gnomon and Paralysis. ‘A Mother’ is written in third person omniscient narration and focuses mainly on the point of view of Mrs Kearney. Who is, as I will try to justify further on, a serial simoniac and a victim of social convention. The first example of Mrs Kearney’s simony is her marriage to Mr Kearney, a bootmaker, who is far older than her. She married, not for love, but in order to keep her status in society respectable: “her friends began to loosen their tongues about her she silenced them by marrying” (pg 153) Another example of Mrs…show more content…
Mrs Kearney never receives full payment. It is this which is the source of her revengefulness and anger during the progression of the tale. I believe also that Mr Kearney is a gnomic character, in the eyes of his society at least. He is an incomplete man who is controlled by his wife. He does not stand up to her, even in public and this lessens himself as a man in society She depersonalises her husband by saying “She appreciated his abstract value as a male” (pg 159) Paralysis casts a dark shadow over this story. Characters who I believe to be the most affected are Mr Kearney and Mrs Kearney herself. He is paralysed by his stale marriage and ruled by her. It is notable that he does not speak throughout the entire story. When Holohan tries to evoke a reaction from him concerning his wife’s behaviour he merely “continued to stroke his beard” (pg 164) He is paralysed and is unable to speak or do much of anything other than his wife’s bidding. Mrs Kearney is paralysed by the end of this story. She has lost everything she has been striving for by her own folly. She is shunned by society whom I believe Joyce has used Mr O’madden Burke to represent. I was led to believe this due to his ‘moral umberella’ (pg 164) which in the end of the story, as Mrs Kearney is broken and humiliated, he is ‘poised upon…in approval’ (pg 168) By committing simony to attempt to become complete, Mrs Kearney has done quite the opposite. Character who commit simony in Dubliners never achieve
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