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Psychology and Perception in the Literature of James Joyce


According to Professor Craig White, the Romantic period began in the late 1700s
and peaked in the early 1800s, when modern mass culture first appeared. Then,
readers of fiction began to understand their personal desires and conflicts (White), and
writers like William Wordsworth focused on nature and emotion in works like Lines
Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey. However, by the end of the nineteenth
century, partly due to the rapid changes from the Industrial Revolution, Romanticism
begat Realism. Realist authors, such as Gustave Flaubert, focused on the individual
with a secular rather than spiritual outlook and sought to represent the concrete,
historical nature of life. Literary time flowed linearly, and the diction was direct and easy
to understand.
Realism is advantageous to Romanticism because it remains faithful to life as it
is, without ideological or mystical beliefs distorting the facts. However, just because the
author reports the facts as is doesnt mean he cant be selective in deciding which facts
to include. This selectivity is a primary drawback of Realism because revealing only
some of the facts may distort the truth. Furthermore, even if the writer tries to remain
unbiased, he still writes from his point of view, so individual perspectives remain
subjective rather than objective. The reader must also consider that language itself can
only describe reality; it cannot embody it, for reality is all-encompassing whereas
language is limited. Practitioners of Realism may claim to be objective, but they cant be
fully so.
By the early 1900s, Realism gave way to Modernism as writers like James Joyce
designed their language purposely to influence how the reader views reality. This

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experimentation with form presented life in a new and more purposeful way with a more
cohesive, interrelated structure. In his essay titled Modernism through a Structuralist
Framework: Dubliners as Capitalist Critique, Andrew Mayton argues that the
cohesiveness of Dubliners, a collection of short stories by Joyce about Dublin life in the
early 1900s, reveals an underlying system within which characters exist and act.
Furthermore, Joyces structure ties the fifteen stories together, so they each exist in a
bleak, uncertain universe (Mayton) where the Irish power structure holds them captive.
Essentially, according to Mayton, the Dubliners stories interrelated nature lets Joyce
mount a scathing critique on imperialism and capitalism, where ordinary individuals are
valued for their labor, not their humanity.
In addition to cohesiveness, Modernist literatures characteristics include
symbolism and ambiguity. Whereas Romanticism focused on transcendent forces, such
as God, and Realism portrayed the physical world as little more than physical,
Modernism moved the world inside the metaphorical realm. Time itself became symbolic
and psychological rather than historical and continuous, so the endings of Modernist
works are often ambiguous and lack satisfying resolutions. Professor John Lye of Brock
University adds that Modernist themes include the nature of reality, the search for
meaning in a world without God, critiques of traditional and Romantic values, and a loss
of hope in the modern world.
Yet one of Modernisms most prominent characteristics is the writers emphasis
on perception. Social commentary may have been of paramount importance to the
nineteenth century author, but by the twentieth century, psychology and perception
superseded social commentary. Dr. Ganesan Balakrishnan of Pachaiyappas College

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notes in his essay The Genesis of a Genre: Impact of Philosophy and Psychology on
Modern Fiction that there has always been a close connection between literature and
philosophy. In the late 1800s, just before Modernism burst into the literary scene, the
American philosopher William James theorized that thoughts are not separate entities
but rather flow like a river in the stream of human consciousness (Balakrishnan).
Ultimately, a combination of developments in the late 1800s and early 1900s in
philosophy, psychology, and history was responsible for birthing the Modern stream of
consciousness novel (Balakrishnan). The scholar Haines explains that Modern fiction
authors have made available to the general public modern psychologys basic tenets,
from stream of consciousness to immediate perception (Balakrishnan). In other words,
writers like James Joyce brought psychology to the people.
In Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Joyce demonstrates
how pervasive psychology and perception are in Modern literature. In the short stories
from Dubliners The Boarding House, A Little Cloud, and A Painful Case, he
contrasts community and loneliness in Dublin, along with external and internal life. In A
Painful Case, The Dead, and Chapter V of the Portrait, he employs one final trait of
Modernism, the epiphany. Professor Lye explains that an epiphany is a moment of
revelation of a reality lying beneath the surface. While epiphanies in Modern fiction
often fail to tie up all of a plots loose ends, they enhance the symbolic nature of reality,
tighten the overall form, and aid the emotional growth of the main characters. And in
The Dead and Chapter V, Joyces emphases on aesthetics and culture; which connect
the triangle between reader, writer, and text; demonstrate how perception not only
impacts the characters but the reader as well. This essay will explore all three aspects

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of Joyces works and connect them to psychology and perception, which in turn help
uncover the symbolic depths of literature and life.
Again, the first main aspect of Joyces literature is the contrast between
community and loneliness. The Boarding House focuses on three primary characters:
Mrs. Mooney, her daughter Polly, and Pollys lover Mr. Bob Doran. Mrs. Mooney makes
her living supplying board and lodgings (72) for Dublins tourists, artists, and clerks,
and Polly has a romantic affair with Doran, a wine merchant (75). The evening before
Mooney and Doran discuss whether he will marry Polly, Doran confesses to a
clergyman (76). Although the priest is a spiritual leader of the Dublin community, he
doesnt comfort Doran with a message of Gods grace but rather draw[s] out every
ridiculous detail of the affair (76). In addition, as blogger Jared Colley writes, Doran
must choose between two opposing expectations: marrying her because of his religious
morals and not marrying her because she is of a lower social class and speaks less
standard forms of English like If I hadve known (77). He is paralyzed between his
religious and socioeconomic communities; in fact, He longed to fly away to another
country where he would never hear again of his trouble (78). Clearly, his fellow
Irishmen offer him little comfort or support, and he feels alone.
Along with the contrast between community and loneliness, another exists
between exterior and interior life. While Doran frets about his predicament, Polly enters
the room and bursts into tears (77). She embraces him and exclaims, O, Bob! Bob!
What am I to do? What am I to do? (77). She threatens suicide, and he tries to comfort
her, though only feebly (77). Here, Mr. Doran and the reader believe Polly is truly
distraught, for she has lost her virginity in an amoral affair. However, at the end of the

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story, Joyce shifts the point of view from Doran to her, and after a little time, all the
perturbation visible on her face (79) disappears. She falls into a dream-like state
where she envisions a glorious future with Doran (79). In other words, when the reader
can see her thoughts, it becomes clear her despair was at best a fleeting moment and
at worst a charade to manipulate Doran into marrying her. Her mother views the
situation as a game she was sure she [herself] would win, so it isnt a stretch to
interpret Pollys thoughts as indicating a divide between her persona and her reality.
Meanwhile, there are also contrasts between community and isolation, along with
exterior and interior, in A Little Cloud. This story features protagonist Little Chandler, a
married clerk with a lifestyle very different from his old friend Ignatius Gallaher, a single,
successful journalist working for the London Press (82). According to Professor Mehmet
Akif Balkaya of Aksaray University, a powerful theme of repression manifests itself
throughout Chandlers life. Balkaya writes, Dublin is portrayed as the paralyzed child of
the mother land (57) due to Englands long-term exploitation of Ireland. Meanwhile,
Chandler dreams of becoming a poet like Lord Byron, but in his mind, his community
represses him (Joyce 94). Joyce writes, Was it too late for [Chandler] to live bravely like
Gallaher? If he could only write a book and get it published, that might open the way
for him (94). A community should offer support for its members, but Chandler doesnt
feel supported. In his mind, even his family holds him back; his young childs cries make
him feel like a prisoner for life (95). Holding his own child, an it (95) to him, he feels
like he has nowhere to turn.
Trapped, Chandler must mask his true feelings when he faces Gallaher. Shortly
after they begin their conversation, Chandler starts to feel somewhat disillusioned (87).

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He doesnt like Gallahers coarse speech and vulgarity. Joyce makes this vulgarity easy
to spot by contrasting the highbrow cadence of Chandlers thoughts with Gallahers less
formal speech. For example, before meeting Gallaher, Chandler thinks, Melancholy
was the dominant tone of his [own] temperament (84). Just moments later, when
Gallaher spots him, Gallaher erupts, Hello, Tommy, old hero, here you are! Do you
see any signs of aging in meeh, what? (85). The answer, of course, is yes: His eyes
relieved his unhealthy pallor, but Chandler, unwilling to be truthful, shakes his head
no (85). Meanwhile, Chandler concludes Gallaher has changed because of Gallahers
move to London and the old personal charm [is] still there under this new gaudy
manner (87). Chandler tries his best to remain cordial, blush[ing] and smil[ing] (89) at
Gallahers remarks, but inside, he stews. Joyce writes, He was sure that he could do
something better than his friend had ever done Gallaher was only patronizing him by
his friendliness (91). By the end, Chandler, unable to maintain his congenial faade,
breaks. He yells Stop! (95) at his child and then cries tears of remorse when out of
the lamplight (96). His true feelings finally manifest, but of course, nobody can see
them.
A similar fate befalls Mr. James Duffy, the protagonist of A Painful Case.
According to Joyce, Mr. Duffy abhorred anything which betokened physical or mental
disorder (119). He is a cashier at a Dublin bank and maintains the same routine every
day, first taking the tram, then eating beer and biscuits at Dan Burkes, then eating
dinner on Georges Street after work, and finally either playing piano or roaming about
the outskirts of Dublin (120). Simply, he has no real community in his life, he doesnt
care about community, and he doesnt even know what community is. He had neither

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companions nor friends, church nor creed. (120). In this way, he is different from Mr.
Doran and Little Chandler. While Doran feels trapped, and Chandler thinks Ireland has
suppressed his creativity, Duffy doesnt bemoan his lack of community. Meanwhile, Mrs.
Emily Sinico, a middle-aged woman who falls in love with him, is more like those other
characters. She has a husband, Captain Sinico, and a daughter (121), but she is as
lonely as Duffy, and she doesnt live in ignorant bliss. Captain Sinico threw her out of
his gallery of pleasures, (121) and her daughter spends much of her time giving music
lessons (121). Elise Kuip of Utrecht University writes that Mrs. Sinico thinks Duffy can
replace (Kuip 10) her husband. She may have a nuclear family structure, but she
suffers from the same curse as the other Dubliners; amid their communities, they live
alone together.
As Duffy differs from Doran and Chandler, Joyce explores the disconnect
between external and internal life in A Painful Case differently from in the other two
stories. When Duffy talks to Mrs. Sinico, neither he nor she have a fake persona. Their
goals are differentas Kuip writes, Mrs. Sinico wants a romantic lover whereas Mr.
Duffy is only looking for a friend to have intellectual conversations with (10)but Duffy
doesnt hide his feelings. Rather, as their thoughts entangle[], they [speak] of subjects
less remote. Her companionship [is] like a warm soil about an exotic (122). However,
one night, their series of conversations comes to an end when she grabs his hand
passionately and presse[s] it to her cheek (123). He interprets her gesture as an
untoward advance on him, and he feels disillusioned (123). When they finally meet,
they decide their relationship is over. She shakes violently from sorrow, but rather than
comfort her, he leaves (123). The greater point is that their union didnt have to end this

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way. To an outside observer, nothing happening between the two of them is
reprehensible. They dont have sex, kiss, or hold hands. She touches his face, but
people can comfort each other physically without sexual feelings. However, her actions
symbolic significance makes Duffy willing to end their friendship. Ultimately, the contrast
between the outside and inside demonstrates the importance of perception in Modern
literature, which illuminates lifes symbolic meanings.
Another tool with a similar purpose is the epiphany. To rephrase, Professor Lye
writes that an epiphany occurs when a character realizes a hidden truth. Mr. Duffys
epiphany comes four years after seeing Mrs. Sinico for the last time (123). During those
years, he returns to his old life and writes that friendship between men and women is
impossible because there must be sexual intercourse (123). By choosing the word
interview (123) to describe their final meeting, Joyce shows the reader how clinical
Duffys mind is. However, one November evening, Duffy reads a newspaper article
stating that Mrs. Sinico died in a train accident (124-5). The article also explains that
recently, she went out at night to buy alcohol (126). His first reaction is scorn, for he
castigates her for the squalid tract of her vice, miserable and malodorous. (127) But at
the pub, he feel[s] ill (128) because he realizes how lonely she must have been and
how lonely he is (128). For the first time, he achieves genuine emotional growth. During
his talks with her, he believed their relationship had emotionalised his mental life, (122)
but based on his belief after her death that communion between men and women is
impossible, he hadnt grown much. But now, he wonders, Why had he withheld life from
her? (128). He scorned the one person who had loved him, and as Kuip writes, he
realises that he is alone, an outcast from lifes feast (Joyce 103) (Kuip 6). Even still,

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amid realizing he ruined his one chance for companionship, he doesnt make amends.
According to Kuip, his paralysis prevents him from making any plans to change this
(6). He could reach out to Mrs. Sinicos family or vow not to make the same mistake
again, but he doesnt because his epiphany merely alerts him that he [is] alone (Joyce
129). By doing so, this epiphany serves one of the purposes Lye mentions, to tie up the
form of the story. First, Duffy is unaware of his loneliness, but now he knows how it feels
to be alone.
Like Duffy, Gabriel Conroy, protagonist of The Dead, lives a lonely existence,
even at the dinner party where the story is set. Also like Duffy, he doesnt realize the
depths of his loneliness until his epiphany at the end. To establish Gabriels state of
mind before the main epiphany, Joyce fleshes a scene where Gabriel prepares to speak
to the dinner guests. If Gabriel were truly content with his family, he would look forward
to expressing his gratitude for their company. However, Joyce writes, He would only
make himself ridiculous by quoting poetry to them which they could not understand.
They would think that he was airing his superior education. He would fail with them
(195). Later, he thinks about his speech again and fantasizes about stepping out into
the snow: How much more pleasant it would be there than at the supper-table! (208).
As critic Olivia Blessing writes, Something about [his] life is missing (3). Joyce reveals
another missing piece at the partys end, before the epiphany but after the song The
Lass of Aughrim deeply affects his wife Gretta. As theyre leaving, he sees her in the
same [melancholy] attitude and unaware of the talk about her (Joyce 230). He feels
lust for her, and when she asks a glassmaker operating a furnace whether the fire is
hot, a wave of yet more tender joy (231) hits him. Joyce writes, Like the tender fires of

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stars moments of their life together, (231) and these words clarify how Gabriel feels for
her. Unlike the Sun, the stars are too distant to give off more than a little light. Thus,
Gabriel and Gretta are together, but their relationship is cold and unfeeling.
However, Gabriels perception of this relationship changes after Gretta tells him
why the song affected her. To summarize, a former lover of hers, Michael Furey, once
sang her the same song when she was a girl (237). Just before she was about to leave
her grandmothers house for Dublin, he fell ill, but out of love, he showed up at the
house and sang to her in the cold rain (239). He died a week later, and his memory has
haunted her ever since, to the point that telling Gabriel the story causes her to be
overcome by emotion (240). After she falls asleep, Gabriel lies awake and realizes he
has never loved her to the point where he would risk his life, to see her one last time.
He had never felt like that himself towards any woman but he knew that such a feeling
must be love (241). Critic John Lavin writes that Gabriel has been the recipient of
news; he has his epiphany and sees the world as it is. Gabriel imagines Michael
standing under a wet tree (241) and conceptualizes his own identity as fading out into a
grey impalpable world (242). According to Lavin, this dissolution of identity shows that
Gabriel has newfound empathy for his family and all people because a world of cold and
snow lying between life and death is one where one is acutely aware of the frailty of
individuality and of the sameness of individuals (Lavin). In other words, for the first time
in his life, Gabriel understands the true power of emotions to affect others. Moreover,
Blessing notes that now that he sees what hes missing, he can remake himself before
dying physically as well as spiritually. In other words, hope still exists for him.

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A similar sense of hope pervades the ending of Joyces novel A Portrait of the
Artist as a Young Man. According to critic Theodore Spencer, cited in Ilaria Natalis
essay in Humanicus, The Portrait may be seen as a kind of epiphanya showing forth
of Joyce himself as a young man (Natali 5). The Portrait features protagonist
Stephen Dedalus, whom scholars like Spencer have compared to a young Joyce, and
has five chapters. This analysis focuses on Chapter V, when Stephen explains his
theory of aesthetics to his fellow student Lynch. Throughout their conversation, Joyce
characterizes Stephen as unlike a typical Dubliner. For example, Stephen tries hard to
explain the difference between his concepts of static and kinetic art. First, he tells Lynch
that unlike Aristotle, he has successfully defined pity and terror, two hallmarks of
tragedy. However, Lynch replies, Stop! I wont listen! I am sick. I was out last night on a
yellow drunk with Horan and Goggins (470). When Stephen finally explains static and
kinetic art in terms of desire, Lynch says that one day I wrote my name in pencil on the
backside of the Venus of Praxiteles in the Museum. Was that not desire? (471).
Essentially, Lynch makes fun of Stephens deep thoughts, and Stephen replies by
looking at Lynch boldly in the eyes until Lynch is humbled (472). The conversation
proceeds in this manner until finally, Lynchs demeanor changes. As rain begins to fall,
Lynch asks, What do you mean by prating about beauty and the imagination in this
miserable Godforsaken island? (483). In other words, before Stephen, Lynch
recognizes the truth: Stephen has no place in a country that will prevent him from
actualizing his gifts.
Eighty-one years after Joyce wrote the Portrait, the writers of the movie Good
Will Hunting included a scene where a character tells his prodigious friend to leave

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home in order to achieve greatness. In the movie, the main character Will Hunting (Matt
Damon) is a genius in mathematics as Stephen is in aesthetics, and Wills friend
Chuckie Sullivan (Ben Affleck) is an ordinary Bostonian as Lynch is an ordinary
Dubliner. Raised by an abusive father, Will, working as a janitor at MIT, has honed his
talents in secret. However, when he solves a complex math problem that the graduate
students cant figure out, Professor Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgard) tries to help him
achieve success. But like Stephen, Will has spent his whole life in his home city and
doesnt plan to leave. One day, Will tells Chuckie that he, Will, wants to spend his life as
a construction worker, and Chuckie replies, But you know what the best part of my day
is? For about ten seconds, from when I pull up to the curb and when I get to your door,
cause I think, maybe you wont be there (Good Will Hunting). Chuckie loves Will as
a friend and enjoys Wills company. But precisely because he is such a good friend to
Will, he wants Will to leave Boston because he knows Will can never achieve his true
potential there. At the end of the movie, Will drives to California to reunite with his
girlfriend, and likewise, at the end of the Portrait, Stephen realizes he must leave
Ireland. He sees swallows flying above the steps of the library and wonders whether
they are symbols of departure or of loneliness (495). He has his epiphany and leaves
his country shortly thereafter.
While epiphanies like Gabriel and Stephens provide insight into major
characters, another tool, an emphasis on aesthetics and culture, illuminates the
importance of perception for the reader. Thus, it reveals how symbolism permeates life
as well as literature. When Gretta listens to the tenor Bartell DArcy (228) sing The Lass
of Aughrim, Gabriel sees her standing next to the top of a flight of stairs (227) and views

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her with an artists eye. Joyce writes, If he were a painter he would paint her in that
attitude. Distant Music he would call the picture if he were a painter. (227-8) In the
words of Peter K. Garrett, editor of a compilation of essays on Dubliners, Olivia Blessing
notes that Gabriel sees his wife with a distanced, impersonal mode of contemplation
(Blessing 5). In other words, he sees her as an object rather than a person. But by the
end of the story, after his epiphany, he realizes she is a human being who deserves his
respect. His self-regarding, mild aestheticism (5) is gone, and the deceptions his
previous misconceptions on love and life (5) provided are gone too. Of course, Gabriel
isnt the only one who views Gretta as a symbol. The reader can probe her character as
well, but Joyces description of Gabriels cold thoughts reminds the reader of soulless
aestheticisms drawbacks.
In The Dead, not only does Joyce refer to aesthetics to emphasize the triangle
between the reader, Joyce, and the story, but he also highlights the Irish monastic
culture. In the beginning of the story, the hostesses Kate and Julia Morkan worry that
Freddy Malins might turn up screwed (192). Freddy is an alcoholic, and surely enough,
when he arrives, hes drunk (198). Mr. Browne tries to sober him up with lemonade, but
Freddy goes into a kink of high-pitched bronchitic laughter (201). By this point, Joyce
has established Freddy as unruly, which makes it surprising when his mother, Mrs.
Malins, announces he will go to the monastery, Mount Melleray, in a week (217-8). At
this monastery, the monks are hospitable, but they never [speak], [get] up at two in
the morning and [sleep] in their coffins (218). Browne wonders why they sleep in
coffins, and Mary Jane Morkan answers, The coffin is to remind them of their last
end (218). Critic A.M. Potter explains why Joyce refers to coffins. When Mary Jane

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explains the monks culture, Joyce demonstrates the connection between coffins and
death. The characters then bury (218) the subject, and Mrs. Malins says vaguely,
They are very good men, the monks, very pious men (218). According to Potter, the
dinner-guests reaction shows they fear death. They dont want to delve into the
mysteries of the dead, which makes it more powerful when Gabriel finally does so
(Potter). Through this allusion to Irish monastic culture, Joyce makes the reader aware
of the scale of Gabriels epiphany.
Just as Joyce emphasizes aesthetics and culture in The Dead, he does the
same in Chapter V of the Portrait. In The Vanishing Subject: Early Psychology and
Literary Modernism, Judith Ryan writes that the English author Walter Pater greatly
influenced James Joyce as a writer, and the Portrait is a response to Paters theory of
aesthetics (138). Pater believed its worthless to create a universal definition of beauty,
but Stephen attempts to do just that with Lynch. He starts by telling Lynch the ultimate
goal of art is to capture the essence of something in the moment (Joyce 471). For
example, the Mona Lisa captures the face of one woman with one knowing look and
immortalizes it for generations. While kinetic art, which Stephen deems improper,
inspires feelings of desire or loathing (471) in the audience, static art seizes the mind,
lifting it above basic emotions. By using Stephen as a mouthpiece to explain the two
types of art, Joyce directly involves the reader in the story. The reader isnt just a
spectator; rather, his or her perception of Stephens arguments is integral to
understanding the text. Essentially, Joyce invites the reader to analyze more deeply
Stephens arguments their validity. Nevertheless, not all the meta elements of Chapter
V are serious. When Lynch asks Stephen what beauty is, Stephen replies, Let us take

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woman [as an example] (475). Lynch then answers passionately, Let us take her!
(475). By having Lynch make a witty remark, Joyce calls attention to adolescent
struggles with sexuality and provides comic relief. Ultimately, Joyce demonstrates that
hes self-aware enough of his own pretensions as a reader and writer to make fun of
himself.
After his lecture on beauty, Stephen concludes his conversation by discussing
the three main forms of art: lyrical, epical, and dramatic. According to Stephen, lyrical art
occurs when the artist presents the image in relation to himself, epical is when he
presents it in relation to himself and others, and dramatic, the highest form, is when he
presents it solely in relation to others (481). Stephen explains that in the dramatic form,
the artist disappears behind his creation as in that old English ballad Turpin Hero
(482). The ballad begins the first person and ends in the third (482), and likewise, the
dramatic form appears when a work helps its audience achieve aesthetic
enlightenment. The artists personality slowly disappears, the art becomes impersonal,
and the artist creates something representing what it means to be human. Ultimately,
the artist becomes like God, above and apart from his creation. For example, in the Old
Testament, people access God indirectly through His creation, the world itself. In the
burning bush story, God attracts Moses attention with a bush He sets on fire; likewise,
people who want to feel a connection to God look to the creation for meaning. In the
end, from Stephens point of view, the greatest relationship isnt between the reader and
the writer but between the reader and the text. Thus, by referencing Turpin Hero, an
important piece of English and Irish culture, Joyce conveys how aesthetics provide
depth to the process of appreciating art.

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Arguably though, Joyce best demonstrates the perceptions significance in
modern fiction the ending of The Dead, examined through a lens of the Fisher King
myth. Just as Stephen evolves as a thinker, Joyce evolved as a writer in his progression
through Dubliners and the Portrait. And similarly, Gabriel evolves as a character and a
person when he lies in bed contemplating Grettas revelation of Michael Furey. In the
old Fisher King myth, the kings country becomes an infertile wasteland. The king can
only save his kingdom by dying, but then, the land is replenished: Outside, the Land
began to change, as fields and pastures began to form in the midst of the forest, crops
sprung up, and wildlife returned (The Monomyth: The Legend of the Fisher King).
Likewise, in Christianity, Jesus dies for humanitys sins, and in The Waste Land by T.S.
Eliot, There is not even silence in the mountains / But dry sterile thunder without rain
(341-2). The ending of The Dead, in which Gabriel sees flakes [of snow], silver and
dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight, (242) is analogous to the Fisher King myth,
for Gabriels spiritual death happens before a possible rebirth, and to The Waste Land.
However, in The Dead, Gabriel sees the snow, but he doesnt know whether spring will
arrive. Nor does the reader, and this ambiguity is the point. In modern fiction, the
psychology of characters, epiphanies, and aesthetics all combine to help the reader
perceive that symbolism and metaphor pervade reality on multiple levels. Thus, when
Gabriel hears the snow faintly falling upon all the living and the dead, (242) the
reader doesnt need to know if spring will come. Rather, the texts importance lies in
what the winter represents, the symbolic death of Ireland.

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