ABSTRACT

At the time he was composing Dubliners, Joyce was fond of envisaging himself as an Irish Zola (Letters II, 137) and, in a 1904 letter to Constantine Curran, declared that his short-story collection would ''betray the soul of that hemiplegia or paralysis which many consider a city" (Letters I, 55). It would hold up to his fellow citizens a "nicely polished looking-glass" of moral opprobrium and offer a caustic, multi-dimensional mimesis of Irish decadence.' If one reads Joyce's indictment of Dublin's "hemiplegia" from a psychoanalytic perspective, then Irish paralysis might be diagnosed as a Freudian symptom of psychic hysteria - the neurotic displacement of aggression, anger, or frustrated libidinal desire played, replayed, and played mit in the text of Dubliners through a pervasive leitmotif of collective repression and social decenteredness. In Joyce's city at the turn of the century, men and women are continually pitted against one another in patterns of anxiety and hostility, with each sex perversely demanding mythic satisfactions of imaginary presence and psychic integration that the other cannot possibly provide. 2

Women and children have been relegated to the margins of discourse in a culture that is male-centered and woman-avoidant. Barred from communal iteration, they cannot articulate desire, communicate feeling, or valorize emotional need. Males, in turn, adopt a speech that strips language of affect and represses erotic expression, until masculine sexuality erupts as a manifestation of phallic urgency - an instinctual yielding to dark, secret, and inarticulate drives. Eros is enacted on a stage of overt danger and covert pleasure, so that the model for heterosexual coupling becomes one of antagonism and conquest - a battle for power won by such gay lotharios as Corley and Gallagher and lost by confused, unimaginative spirits like Little Chandler and Bob Doran. In relationships

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betweenthesexes,thecentralspecterisalwaysenvisagedmterms ofmaledesireblockedbytheperversitiesofanarbitraryandtyrannicalfemalewill.