Essay on James Joyce's Dubliners: Two Gallants

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In "Two Gallants," the sixth short story in the Dubliners collection, James Joyce is especially careful and crafty in his opening paragraph. Even the most cursory of readings exposes repetition, alliteration, and a clear structure within just these nine lines. The question remains, though, as to what the beginning of "Two Gallants" contributes to the meaning and impact of Joyce's work, both for the isolated story itself and for Dubliners as a whole. The construction, style, and word choice of this opening, in the context of the story and the collection, all point to one of Joyce's most prevalent implicit judgments: that the people of Ireland refuse to make any effort toward positive change for themselves.

(1)The grey warm
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Circularity is also evident when the beginning of the story is compared with the final paragraph. Consider the alliteration in lines 3-4: "summer," "streets," "shuttered," "Sunday," and "swarmed" and the ending (p. 71), where the "s" sound is repeated once again: "stared," "smiling," slowly," "small," and "shone." In addition, the image of a lamp plays a key role in each situation: to expose the "shape and hue" of the crowd in the opening (lines 4-6) and to expose the sovereign Corley holds in the final scene.

In "Two Gallants," Joyce uses circularity to point out a lack of real change in the situation he has presented. This concept sets up the scene as something essentially static -- even the constantly "changing shape and hue" is reduced to a "murmur" when taken as a group (lines 7, 9). Likewise, the purpose Joyce intends for the story is exposed by the fact that its central action -- trading sexual favors for the slave-girl's salary -- is just a matter of course for the main characters. As the two men acknowledge,

Ecod! Corley, you know how to take them, he [Lenehan] said.

I'm up to all their little tricks, Corley confessed. (p. 63)

Even though Corley essentially steals money from an innocent woman, this "action" is merely an expression of the fact that both he and Lenehan remain the same shallow creatures of habit they were at the beginning of the story.

Much like its
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