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James Joyce's Notion of Epiphany and Its Use in Dubliners
2000 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year))Student thesis
Abstract [en]

When Joyce wrote Stephen Hero he described the notion of the epiphany primarily as being the revelation of an object. An object or an event has an inherent message that is conveyed to the perceiver and this message appears to be objective and true for everyone who perceives it. However, the act of perception depends on the subject, and though every object is capable of an epiphany, every subject does not experience it. The duality of the notion of epiphany has lead to a difference of approach. Some critics stress the part of the subject and the act of a subject’s mind when they discuss ”epiphany,” others stress the object in claiming that the notion of epiphany in reality is another way of explaining Joyce’s aesthetic view. However, the notion of epiphany changes and eventually becomes a literary technique used in several of Joyce’s titles, among them Dubliners. In the process of writing Dubliners Joyce designated the term epikleses to the stories. This term suggests that like a priest, who by words transforms bread into the body of Christ, the artist (Joyce) transforms everyday activities into something of further significance. Epicleses is the creative processes and epiphany the resulting manifestations. Thus, epiphanies have become part of fiction, or rather a literary device by which Joyce conveys his messages to the readers. Joyce knew exactly what he wanted to convey: Irish paralysis. His readers should see themselves in his ”nicely polished looking-glass.” By depicting ordinary life in Dublin, Joyce wanted these ”trivialities” to become epiphanies for the readers; he aimed at showing the true nature of Dublin, its soul. His epiphanies as a literary device were intended to reveal their true, objective nature. When discussing epiphanies in Dubliners, they should primarily designate the epiphanies experienced by the characters. Throughout the collection the reader meets with characters who come to new insight, who sense some kind of revelation or who fail to comprehend the misery of their lives. All of the characters, in one way or another, portray paralysis or captivity. Not until the end is there any promise of change. Gabriel, who by his epiphany represents all the characters portrayed in the collection, understands that he must be what he is, i.e., an Irishman. In the collection the characters search for objects that will complete them, but when the expectations of these objects turn out to be false, they are left helpless. Gabriel is the only character that is ready to accept reality as it is. From a Lacanian point of view, the characters search for unity in the ”mirror state.” I suggest that this unity is to be found in the realisation that ”we are all Irish.” As it appears, this is also what Joyce wants his readers to realise. Lacan’s ”mirror state” does not seem to differ much from Joyce’s ”looking-glass.” The stories in Dubliners are the objects by which the readers can imagine their unity with the generic Dubliner.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2000. , 29 p.
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-53954Local ID: ENG D-8OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-53954DiVA: diva2:1102514
Subject / course
English
Available from: 2017-05-29 Created: 2017-05-29

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  • apa
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