The Collection The Sisters English Literature Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

to Paris to study medicine. He was recalled to Dublin in April 1903 because of illness of his mother. In 1904 he began to write short stories.In 1914 Fifteen of this stories was published under the name The Dubliners.

The Dubliners (as mentioned before) is a collection of 15 short stories. They form a naturalistic depiction of Irish middle class life in and around Dublin in early 20th century. One of the main ideas or symbols in The Dubliners is the paralysis.

Joyce believed that the that the Irish society, culture and economy had been paralysed by two forces. The first force was England itself which conquered Ireland in the 17th century and the second was Catholic Church which has strong influence in Ireland. In most of the stories is paralysis shown as characters inability to change their lives and reverse the sometimes unpleasant routines. In this essay I will focus on the theme of paralysis in 3 short stories from The Dubliners.


The first short story from the collection The Sisters is a great example of paralysis in the book. Father Flynn suffers from paralysing strokes and eventually he dies. His pupil is young boy always have strange dreams about him. The narrator thinks about the word paralysis every time when looking at Father Flynns' window. The physical presence of Father Flynn lingers throughout the story, coloring a narrator's experience of dealing with death in life and showing how death interrupts normal human activities. In final scene with the sisters, eating, drinking and talking become difficult since death frames those activities. The inability of the narrator and his aunt to eat and speak during their visit to the sisters recalls the sense of paralysis that the narrator connects to the dying Father Flynn in the stories opening paragraph. This link between paralysis or inaction to both death and religion underpins all the stories in Dubliners. Narrator face events which paralyze him from taking action. In The Sisters is paralysis connected through the Father Flynn to Catholic Church which is one of the forces that paralyzed the Irish society.

Second story in my essay is the shortest story in the book - The Eveline. In this short story the theme of paralysis is very evident. Eveline is sitting at her window and recalling some memories from her sometimes hard life. She continually performs the same tasks every week, not understanding what creates the need to do that tasks but she do them anyway without thinking. This leaves her in stereotype or paralysis in her lifestyle. She faces a difficult dilemma: remain at home or escape from hard life with Frank. Frank in my opinion characterize the vision of the new better and easier life. He is her ticket from old and hard life. At the docks in Dublin Eveline waits in a crowd for Frank. She is worried. When the boat whistle blows and Frank pulls her hand to lead her with him, Eveline resists. She clutches the barrier and she remains motionless and emotionless. This illustrates that she is holding onto the past when she can move on for better future. Eveline as a character represents the hope for some type of progress in life yet she don`t know how to make that final step.

The third story is the last story of The Dubliners book - The dead. I will start with short summary. It is the holiday season and that means it is time for typical dance and dinner party organised by Kate and Julia Morkan. Housemaid Lily frantically greets guests. Kate and Julia particularly awaits their favourite nephew Gabriel Conroy with his wife Greta. The party continues Gabriel is dancing with Mrs. Ivory later he delivers a brief speech. Later as the party is breaking up, Gabriel witnesses his wife, listening to a song. She looks very focused and Gabriel is sentimental. Later when they arrives to their hotel room Gabriel is still full of amorous feelings for Greta but she seems to be upset and sad for some reason. Gabriel asks her what happened and she tell him about her old and first love from childhood. The boy´s name was Michael Fury and he died for his love for Greta. Everything outside is covered in blanket of snow and it reminds him once again about the mortality and how they are all connected by it. The entire story is a metaphor for the paralysis in Irish society in many ways. The romantic relationship between Gabriel and his wife shows how they are emotionally paralyzed because of the long time they are together. Gabriel realize that he is not a true or first love of her wife but instead of being angry he is sad. Than he realize that if he wants to make a step forward he must leave his past behind him. The blanket of snow suggests the numbness in Gabriels character becouse he is emotionless and not very passionate. He tries to control everything and everybody. The blanket of snow also suggest the same fate of the Ireland and people who live there because the snow is not falling only outside of the Gabriel´s house but the snow falls across the whole Ireland. The snow connects the dead with the living ones because the blanked covers everything. And finally the snow is cold and it froze the whole country which is also a picture of paralysis.


Paralysis is strong if not the strongest symbol and it lingers throughout the whole book. Paralysis as symbol itself is written in many ways but it doesn´t matter if it is Father Flynn, young Eveline or Gabriel Joyce is always pointing on the same thing. It shows that we must forget our past to be able to move on in our lives. In the bigger picture it shows that Ireland must "open its eyes" so it can move forward for better future. I think that I proved that paralysis along the other strong symbols is the key motif in The Dubliners book.