Essay on Two Themes in James Joyce's Dubliners

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Escape Countered by Responsibility: A Comparative Analysis of the Two Themes in Dubliners

James Joyce’s Dubliners is a compilation of many short stories put together to convey the problems in Ireland during that time. Many of his characters are searching for some kind of escape from Dublin, and this is a reoccurring theme throughout the stories. In the story “Little Cloud,” the main character, Little Chandler, feels the need for both an escape from Dublin and also from his normal everyday life. Gabriel, the main character in Joyce’s final story of the book, “The Dead,” desires a different form of escape than Little Chandler. He desires to escape his aunts’ party, and also at times, Dublin society. Although the stories
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It is no coincidence that even the name “Little Chandler” gives the reader the impression that he is inferior/x. He reflects to himself, “If you wanted to succeed you had to go away…you could do nothing in Dublin” (68).

Little Chandler had fantasized about becoming a writer and moving from Dublin himself, and his reunion with Gallaher in the bar escalades these unrealistic desires. “Every step [towards the bar where they were meeting] brought him nearer to London, farther from his own sober inartistic life” (68). Gallaher tells Chandler of the exiting places outside of Dublin where, he says, “[in Dublin,] nothing is known of such things,” and the places he has been are “not for a pious chap like [Little Chandler]” (71, 73). Gallaher is not at all interested in Chandler’s family, nor does he want one of his own. He even goes so far to say that if he ever gets married, it would be to a rich German or Jewish girl, and that tying himself to one woman “must get a bit stale” (77). The meeting with Gallaher and “listening to Gallaher’s stories and of sharing for a brief space Gallaher’s vagrant and triumphant life, upset the equipoise of his sensitive nature” (75). He leaves the bar feeling somewhat cheated out of a life that he could have had.

When Little
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