Capel Street, a typical yet rather non-exceptional shopping thoroughfare just a few blocks west of O’Connell Street in Dublin city center, appears in both “Two Gallants” and “A Little Cloud.” In both stories, it serves as an artery moving the focal characters from north to south as they walk through the city. For Lenahan in “Two Gallants,” Capel Street is one line amid a mostly destinationless perambulation, a trek that serves to pass the time while his friend Corley is engaged with his lover. And for Chandler in “A Little Cloud,” the street is one section of a mostly direct route from his office in Henrietta Street to Corless’s where he’ll meet his successful London-based friend Gallaher who is in town for a visit. For both men, Capel Street is the setting for a change of attitude.
Capel Street seems only a blip in the timeline of Lenehan’s wandering:
“He paid twopence halfpenny to the slatternly girl and went out of the shop to begin his wandering again. He went into Capel Street and walked along towards the City Hall. Then he turned into Dame Street” (58).
But it is part of a series of stretches and turns that accompany an important internal review for the thirty-year-old gallant. The lines just before the Capel Street reference show Lenehan eating a plate of peas at a pub (likely in Great Britain Street) while he considers his life, first hopelesslessy and then a little more optimistically:
“He would be thirty-one in November. Would he never get a good job? Would he never have a home of his own? He thought how pleasant it would be to have a warm fire to sit by and a good dinner to sit down to. He had walked the streets long enough with friends and with girls. He knew what those friends were worth: he knew the girls too. Experience had embittered his heart against the world. But all hope had not left him. He felt better after having eaten than he had felt before, less weary of his life, less vanquished in spirit. He might yet be able to settle down in some snug corner and live happily if he could only come across some good simple-minded girl with a little of the ready” (58).
The next glimpse we get into Lenehan’s mind is when he meets his firends at the corner of Dame and George’s Streets.But what occupies his mind for the 5 minutes the map indicates it would take him to traverse Capel Street and the additional 5 minutes it would have taken to cross Grattan Bridge, continue down Parliament Street, and then wander east along Dame street to the corner? Have the peas truly placated him, stopping all analysis and self-reflection? The exchange with his firends at the corner is described very matter-of-factly, listing the questions and answers without any embellishment of accompanying emotion besides that “[h]e was glad that he could rest from all his walking” (58). It would seem he’s also relieved to have a distraction from his self-doubts. He would rather gossip with fellow drinkers and drifters than examine his own failings and shortcomings. Indeed, it seems that after he resolves to become “less weary of his life, less vanquished in spirit,” all thought must stop lest it return to the realism of his age and lack of love or vocation.
Chandler, who is more mature than Lenehan (partly evidenced by his habitation of a maturity story rather than an adolescence story), doesn’t stifle his thoughts as he traverses Capel Street. Rather, the 7 minutes it would take him to walk from the corner of Henrietta and Capel Streets to Grattan Bridge appear in the text as paragraphs packed full of reflection.
“He turned to the right towards Capel Street. Ignatius Gallaher on the London Press! Who would have thought it possible eight years before? Still, now that he reviewed the past, Little Chandler could remember many signs of future greatness in his friend. People used to say that Ignatius Gallaher was wild. Of course, he did mix with a rakish set of fellows at that time, drank freely and borrowed money on all sides. In the end he had got mixed up in some shady affair, some money transaction: at least, that was one version of his flight. But nobody denied him talent. There was always a certain … something in Ignatius Gallaher that impressed you in spite of yourself. Even when he was out at elbows and at his wits’ end for money he kept up a bold face. Little Chandler remembered (and the remembrance brought a slight flush of pride to his cheek) one of Ignatius Gallaher’s sayings when he was in a tight corner:
–Half time now, boys, he used to say light-heartedly. Where’s my considering cap?
That was Ignatius Gallaher all out; and, damn it, you couldn’t but admire him for it.
Little Chandler quickened his pace. For the first time in his life he felt himself superior to the people he passed. For the first time his soul revolted against the dull inelegance of Capel Street. There was no doubt about it: if you wanted to succeed you had to go away. You could do nothing in Dublin. As he crossed Grattan Bridge he looked down the river towards the lower quays and pitied the poor stunted houses” (72-73).
The movement from north Dublin to south tranforms Chandler. He becomes more confident as “every step brought him closer to London, farther from his own sober, inartistic life” (73). So what is it about Capel Street that advances confidence or at least has the power to quiet self-doubt? What sights and sounds would have populated Lenehan and Chandler’s walks down this innocuous commercial corridor?
First, Capel Street is only one of two explicit references (along with Dame Street) the two stories share even though an implicit path is also common. So although the shared change of heart both men experience on their Capel Street walks suggests a kind of parallel characterization, their similar experience is perhaps more a product of the location itself than any similarity of personality. As a commercial artery, Capel street is and was a place of common utility for many Dubliners. A Dublin City development plan describes the street as “one of the most historically significant streets in Dublin City. The street formed part of an extension of the city north of the river by Sir Humphrey Jervis who built his estate on the lands of St. Mary’s Abbey. In 1676 Jervis built a new bridge, Essex Bridge [later renamed Grattan Bridge], which established Capel Street as one of the main thoroughfares between the north and south sides of Dublin City” (1). The report explains that “Capel Street was originally planned in the 17th Century for residential use,” and for a time it indeed “became one of the most fashionable addresses” (2). But the area was repurposed in the eighteenth century for commerce. The report continues, “Capel Street took on the its current appearance we see today during the 19th century. During this period retail became prominent on the street so that domestic houses at the top lost their front doors and railings to make way for shopfronts” (4). It wasn’t until the past century that “the Capel Street area was subject to urban decay” and the necessity arose to implement a plan to preserve its historic features.
Capel Street was well established but already in the early stages of its decay during the time period in which Dubliners is set. Perhaps the comfortable and long-cemented bustle served as a kind of reassuring diversion from Lenehan’s perceived individual shortcomings. And for Chandler, “the dull inelegance of Capel Street” filled the role of inferior metropolis necessary to bolster his own imagined sense of superior displacement. More specifically, the inelegance Chandler perceived became a theme for the art he could create outside of Dublin. In both cases, the moments spanned on Capel Street offer a kind of transcendence of spirit while still anchoring their occupants with a kind of inevitability of fortune. It hardly needs to be noted that such co-existence of epiphany and paralysis defines Dubliners, but it is remarkable that this ambivalence can be gleaned through a simple geographical reference shared between two characters on very different paths and in very different stages in life.
Editor’s Note: The following is a guest contribution. Kurt Hochenauer is professor of English at the University of Central Oklahoma where he teaches modern British and postcolonial literature. He is the author of the political blog Okie Funk.
One of the livelier intellectual debates in the James Joyce scholarly community situates itself along a spectrum between what I will call the aesthetes and the politicos.
To put it in the most simplistic dichotomy, the aesthetes believe the lasting value of Joyce’s work is in the author’s brilliant use of language and symbolism. The politicos believe Joyce’s political and sociocultural statements are as much central to his work as artistic wordplay or the creation of modern and new literary structures and forms.
Obviously, the binary isn’t so tidy, and aesthetics inform the politics and vice versa, but it’s worth noting as a prelude to any academic discussion of “The Dead,” which appears in Dubliners, or any particular segments of that story, which is the perfect stew of astute political commentary and brilliant literary aesthetics but surely is not Joyce’s last major “political” work of fiction.
Gabriel’s political epiphany to fully embrace his country’s quest for independence and its heritage on a “journey westward” in his hotel room only comes after his cab crosses the O’Connell Bridge, named after one of Ireland’s most famous leaders and agitators for emancipation, Daniel O’Connell. The bridge and its political implications are heavily tied to the theme of the story, and serve as the gateway to Gabriel’s political enlightenment after his encounter with Molly Ivors at his aunts’ home.
In the story, Gabriel and his wife Gretta share a cab with Mr. Bartell D’Arcy and Miss O’Callaghan as the couple go back to their hotel room after the party. Here’s the relevant segment:
“As the cab drove across O’Connell Bridge Miss O’Callaghan said:
–They say you never cross O’Connell Bridge without seeing a white horse.
–I see a white man this time, said Gabriel.
–Where? asked Mr. Bartell D’Arcy.
Gabriel pointed to the statue, on which lay patches of snow. Then he nodded familiarly to it and waved his hand.
–Good-night, Dan, he said gaily.” (214)
The Carlisle Bridge was built to go over the River Liffey in Dublin. It was first constructed from 1794-1798 by James Gandon and named after Frederick Howard, 5th Earl of Carlisle, known as Lord Carlisle. It was later widened in 1880, and was renamed O’Connell Bridge in 1882 when the O’Connell statue was erected in Dublin. There’s an old legend that one always sees a white horse on the bridge, which could be a reference to the white horse owned by British King William III, or “King Billy,” who reigned from 1672 to 1702 and was widely hated by Irish Catholics. By the time the party crosses the bridge, incidentally, Gabriel has only an hour before told the story of his grandfather’s horse Johnny who walked circles around King Billy’s statue because he apparently “fell in love with the horse King Billy sits on” (208).
The bridge’s basic political implications seem almost too obvious to note, but in “The Dead” it becomes a symbolic blending of a basic Dublin iconic place name not only with Gabriel’s later catharsis but also with the numerous ironies and overlaps in the story.
When Gabriel happily and playfully says “Good-night, Dan,” referring to the O’Connell statue, he doesn’t know yet his wife will cry herself to sleep after thinking about a young man who once loved her and who she thinks maybe even died for her. Gabriel remains awake after Gretta’s emotional outburst in the hotel room with “generous tears” in his eyes and makes a connection with “vast hosts of the dead,” which would obviously include O’Connell.
First, Gabriel must lose his old, stifling West Briton identity, the source of his anxiety:
“His own identity was fading out into a grey impalpable world: the solid world itself, which these dead had one time reared and lived in, was dissolving and dwindling.” (223)
With his self-conscious and self-fawning identity now eradicated, Gabriel can finally embrace the struggle. “The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward,” or, to put it another way, the time has come for Gabriel to become politically realized. The snow that covers the O’Connell statue, which Gabriel noted earlier, continues to fall general across Ireland, uniting him with his historical past and propelling him westward to awakening.
The O’Connell Bridge is a symbolic gateway to Gabriel’s political epiphany and, by extension, Joyce’s political awakening, which the author deployed in both bold and subversive ways in his writing in and after “The Dead.”
Editor’s Note: The following is a guest contribution by Julie McCormick Weng, a Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow at Georgia Institute of Technology. Her recent publications include articles in Journal of Modern Literature and Éire-Ireland. Her essay in Joyce Studies Annual, “From ‘Dear Dirty Dublin’ to ‘Hibernian Metropolis’: A Vision of the City from the Tramways of Ulysses,’” argues that Joyce’s depiction of Dublin’s tramways redresses stereotypes of Ireland as a (technologically) underdeveloped country. Julie also serves as editor of reviews for Breac: A Digital Journal of Irish Studies.
In “Two Gallants,” the Donnybrook Tram(line) is mentioned twice. In both instances, the transportation route facilitates Corley’s duplicitous meetings with a woman.
In the first reference, Corley explains that after a chance meeting with a maid (or as he calls her, a “fine tart”) at Waterhouse’s clock, he made an “appointment” to meet her the following Sunday. Upon their meeting, they “went out to Donnybrook,” a suburb in South Dublin, where Corley takes “her into a field” to have sex (51). Not only does the maid bring Corley cigarettes and cigars that she steals from her employer, but she also “pay[s] the tram [fares] out and back” (51). In the second allusion, Lenehan follows Corley and the woman to Merrion Square and watches them “climbing the stairs of the Donnybrook tram” (56). From there, the couple travels to the end of the line to repeat their earlier sexual encounter.
Taking the Donnybrook Tram from crowded central Dublin to its more rural outskirts allows Corley and the maid to access a more intimate yet public space for intercourse. Even more, it permits Corley to further advance his plan of convincing the maid to steal more than luxury goods from her employer; rather, he aims to persuade her into taking the homeowners’ money.
As implied by the text, Corley’s philandering countryside adventures began long before his meetings with the maid. He confesses, “First I used to go with girls, you know…girls off the South Circular. I used to take them out, man, on the tram somewhere and pay the tram or take them to a band or a play at the theatre or buy them chocolate and sweets or something that way. I used to spend money on them right enough…” (52). Corley is absolutely gleeful, however, that in his latest relationship, he is the one on the receiving end. These sentiments support the opinions that Corley’s peers share about him—that he is a “gay Lothario” and “leech” (52, 50). He has a habit of stringing women along, both figuratively and literally, down Dublin’s tram tracks.
The Donnybrook Tramline that Corley and the maid utilize was established by the Dublin Tramways Co (DTC) in 1873. One of three rail companies servicing Dublin, the Donnybrook line “ran via Merrion Square (North and East), Lower Fitzwilliam Street, Baggot Street, Waterloo Road and Morehampton Road, to the terminus at Donnybrook, near the present bus garage.” James Kilroy notes that this line was known for its adoption of a “livery of ‘cream or pale yellow’” (19).
On January 1, 1881, Dublin’s three tram companies joined forces to form the Dublin United Tramways Co (DUTC), which offered about 32 miles of track and transported an astonishing estimate of around 10,000,000 passengers in its inaugural year (Kilroy 21). Indeed, in contrast to stereotypical assumptions of Dublin as a (technologically) backwards capital city, scholars such as Hugh Kenner and Andrew Thacker have claimed that by 1904, Dublin’s sophisticated and extensive tramways surpassed not just the rest of Europe, but perhaps even the rest of the modern world (Kenner 26, Thacker 127).
Because much of the population was illiterate, Dublin’s tramlines relied on symbols to distinguish the routes. The Donnybrook line via Merrion Square was recognized by two solid-blue conjoined diamonds (Figure 6). The north-bound end of the line was marked by the same symbol with a white “horizontal flash” passing through it (Kilroy 81). (Corley and the maid would have taken both these lines as they navigated to and from Donnybrook.) These symbols were phased out and eventually replaced by route numbers in the 1920s (Kilroy 84). Interestingly, Kilroy notes that although this system was one of a kind in Europe, it was implemented also in Egypt (84).
As seen in the image below, the first tramcars were pulled down the tracks by horses. These same tracks were later used as Dublin’s trams gradually electrified between 1898 and January 1901 (Kilroy 83). In “Two Gallants,” Corley utilizes the DUTC’s electric (rather than horse-drawn) tramways, which would have been a relatively recent addition to Dublin’s transportation infrastructure.
Altogether, the Donnybrook tramline serves as a route that supports Dubliners’ inner-city travel and also allows Corley’s illicit, countryside rendezvous.
Kenner, Hugh. The Mechanic Muse. NewYork: Oxford University Press, 1987. Print.
Kilroy, James. Irish Trams. Omagh: Colourpoint, 1996. Print.
Thacker, Andrew. Moving Through Modernity: Space and Geography in Modernism. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003. Print.
While Milan and the Irish College, both located in Italy, are mentioned by name and thus discussed in elsewhere in this project, Dubliners also contains reference to the country of Italy in a (seemingly) more general sense. The reference appears in “Eveline,” in relation to the title character’s memory of her parents:
“Down far in the avenue she could hear a street organ playing. She knew the air. Strange that it should come that very night to remind her of the promise to her mother, her promise to keep the home together as long as she could. She remembered the last night of her mother’s illness; she was again in the close dark room at the other side of the hall and outside she heard a melancholy air of Italy. The organ-player had been ordered to go away and given sixpence. She remembered her father strutting back into the sickroom saying:
–Damned Italians! coming over here!” (39-40)
“Eveline” is a comparatively brief story unique in its breadth of non-Irish references. Making sweeping allusions to places as immense as Canada and Patagonia, and as far removed as Melbourne, Joyce balances this story of one young woman’s geographic constriction against a taunting array of exotic and often foreboding locations.
While Italy is not so exotic a reference as others in this story, Joyce’s use of it in this particular context presents several interesting implications. Perhaps the most obvious of these is the irony of the Italian emigrant in Ireland juxtaposed with Joyce’s own status as an Irish emigrant in Italy shortly after the story’s initial publication in The Irish Homestead on September 10, 1904. It would worth further study to determine if this preliminary version included the reference to Italy or if that was added to the final version published with the rest of the stories in 1914 after Joyce had spent considerable time in both Trieste and Rome. Regardless of the timing of the reference in the story’s publication history, the prejudice Eveline’s father exhibits in his condemnation of the immigrants “coming over here!” is important enough to stick in her memory years later, and perhaps this prejudice factors in to her paralysis when it comes time to board the ship and become, herself, an immigrant in a foreign land who will undoubtedly face similar reactions from the natives of her new home in Buenos Ayres.
But Joyce embeds a far less obvious connotation in the reference to Italian immigrants and their music. First, the street organ Eveline hears (represented in the above video) was a common instrument played by wandering musicians during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Often associated with poor Italian immigrants, their music filled city streets, and many residents complained to the extent that these barrel organs were outlawed in some cities. Music, of course, plays a significant role throughout Dubliners, and Italian music, opera in particular, is later esteemed to be some of the best in the world by the music aficionados in attendance at the Morkans’ party in “The Dead.”
But another recurring motif is transportation. Joyce packs his stories full of boats, carriages, trams, cabs, trains, bicycles, and even motor cars. Many Dubliners make use of public transportation in their perambulations around town and in between suburbs. And it just so happens that a 19th-century Italian immigrant is responsible for implementing the model for such public transit systems. While Italy is explicitly used in the story in reference to street musicians and the style of music they play, by applying some further historical context to the scene, the reference becomes much richer in its implications for Joyce’s ongoing examination of transportation in turn-of-the-century Ireland.
As a 1972 RTE program notes, “The Italians are by far the biggest foreign community in Ireland.” According to the text synopsis of the short film,
“The first Italians to arrive in Ireland came with the Normans. In the 18th century, the stuccodores embellished the Irish Georgian houses. In the 19th century, it was the Italians who gave [the Irish their] first transport system.”
More specifically, it was Carlo “Charles” Bianconi, an immigrant from what is now the Lecco province in northern Italy who introduced Ireland’s first public transportation service in 1815. According to Samuel Smiles’s 1890 Men of Invention and Industry, a book Joyce may very well have read, Bianconi’s father sent him away to strike out a living with a print-seller bound for London. The print-seller ended up breezing right through that city and instead settled his group of young non-English-speaking apprentices, including Bianconi, in Dublin in 1802. Smiles describes the Dublin the young Italian encountered as rather rowdy:
“Many things struck Bianconi in making his first journeys through Ireland. He was astonished at the dram-drinking of the men, and the pipe-smoking of the women. The violent faction-fights which took place at the fairs which he frequented, were of a kind which he had never before observed among the pacific people of North Italy. These faction-fights were the result, partly of dram-drinking, and partly of the fighting mania which then prevailed in Ireland. There were also numbers of crippled and deformed beggars in every town,—quarrelling and fighting in the streets,—rows and drinkings at wakes,—gambling, duelling, and riotous living amongst all classes of the people,—things which could not but strike any ordinary observer at the time, but which have now, for the most part, happily passed away” (224-25).
(Such a portrait, with its cheery conclusion that all is now peachy, might certainly have reaffirmed Joyce’s compulsion to hold up his “nicely-polished looking glass” [Letters I 64] for “that hemiplegia or paralysis which many consider a city” [Letters I 55].)
After he finished his apprenticeship, Bianconi spent several years exploring Ireland on his own, and in part because of all the walking he did, in 1815 he implemented Ireland’s first organized horse-drawn transit system. The vehicles operated on a regular schedule throughout the 19th century even after the railway system was introduced. An 1835 Leigh’s New Pocket Road Book of Ireland lists timetables for “Bianconi’s Royal Mail Day Cars,” which shortened trips that may have taken up to eight hours by boat down to just two hours by horse-drawn coach. In an Irish Times article, Aoife Valentine explains,
“The first trip on his open-top horse-drawn carriage took passengers from Clonmel to Cahir on July 6th, 1815. Both towns are on the River Suir, in Co Tipperary, but travel by water meant a journey of more than 38km; by land it was only 16km. Today the same journey is a 20-minute drive; then, most people’s only option was to walk.”
As the first story in the adolescence sequence of Dubliners, the kinds of transportation implied by the mention of Italian emigrants and explicitly referenced in Frank’s association with the steam-ship trade industry as a sailor for the Allan Line are still firmly rooted in 19th-century methods. Fittingly, though, the following story, “After the Race,” illustrates an evolution of those methods in its foregrounding of motor cars as the latest in transportative advancements.
Located on the east coast of Ireland 18 miles north of Dublin, Skerries is a town comprising part of the coastline and a group of islands in the Irish Sea. The seaside locale is mentioned twice in Dubliners as a vacation destination frequented by the Kearney family in “A Mother:”
“Every year in the month of July Mrs Kearney found occasion to say to some friend:
–My good man is packing us off to Skerries for a few weeks.
If it was not Skerries it was Howth or Greystones” (137).
Although it is referenced as a place the Kearneys visit, like all such destinations in Dubliners, it is never an actual setting where the story’s events happen. All the action in Dubliners takes place, appropriately though perhaps disappointingly to the Dubliners themselves, in Dublin. But that doesn’t mean place references outside of Dublin don’t carry just as much impact in the way we interpret the geographical politics of Joyce’s texts.
Skerries by itself seems, as a reference, somewhat insignificant. It’s a small fishing town on the coast that, in Joyce’s day, served as both an industrial and leisure center. In addition to the town on the mainland, Skerries includes several islands–Shenick (formerly Red) Island, Colt, St. Patrick, and the Rock of Bill (or Rockabill), which technically comprises the Cow and the Calf. According to legend, St. Patrick first touched Irish ground at St. Patrick Island. John d’Alton’s 1838 History of the County of Dublin briefly chronicles nearly 1000 years of monastic and religious activity on St. Patrick island, which “has upon it some remains of the ancient church” (D’Alton 444). With its ruins, lighthouses, and windmills, Skerries would certainly make for a scenic and conveniently located holiday destination for a Dublin family.
The reference to Skerries, like many Irish geographical references in Dubliners, carries with it long history steeped in legend. But taken in the context of the other two references–Howth and Greystones–Skerries is part of a Joycean trinity. Perhaps the most apparent observation we can make about this trinitiy of vacation spots the Kearneys frequent is that they are all in Ireland and furthermore very close to Dublin. Since the Kearneys embody the ideals of Irish revivalism, it is fitting that they should choose to spend their leisure time in their home country enjoying the scenic comforts and historic monuments of Ireland. The Irishness of this triad is emphasized when two stories later, in “The Dead,” Gabriel tells Molly Ivors, another revivalist, that he prefers to vacation outside of Ireland:
“–Well, we usually go to France or Belgium or perhaps Germany, said Gabriel awkwardly.
–And why do you go to France and Belgium, said Miss Ivors, instead of visiting your own land?” (189)
The three possible destinations, coupled with Molly Ivor’s response, directly recall the previous list of three destinations identified in “A Mother,” drawing a connection between Mrs. Kearnery and Miss Ivors. We might imagine Molly Ivors as one of the “little crowd of people [who] would assemble after mass at the corner of Cathedral Street” who were all “musical friends or Nationalist friends” (137). Ivors would ostensibly be both, or perhaps even a version of Kathleen Kearney herself, one who has detached from her mother’s protection and argues now more confidently. The juxtaposition of Skerries, Howth, and Greystones with France, Belgium, and Germany augments one of the dominant themes of the public life stories–Nationalism versus Unionism–and, in typical Joyce fashion, introduces a third player to the binary–in this case Continentalism. This notion of Continentalism appears first in “After the Race” with its diverse cast of multi-national characters. The public life stories, especially “The Dead” reify this notion, and that reification all starts with a seemingly innocuous list of vacation spots in “A Mother,” lead by Skerries.
Named in 1768 after Sir Gustavus Hume, M,D., Hume Street is located on the east side of Stephen’s Green and runs between the park on the west and Ely Place on the east. Mention of the street occurs twice in “Two Gallants.” It is where the “slavey” stands waiting for Corley:
“At the corner of Hume Street a young woman was standing. She wore a blue dress and a white sailor hat. She stood on the curbstone, swinging a sunshade in one hand” (54).
And after Corley leaves Lenehan alone, crossing the street “obliquely” toward the young woman, Lenehan continues past them along the park-side of the street before doubling back along the opposite side to get a closer look at her. As he passes the couple, Lenehan gets more than a look; he also gets a good whiff as the air on the corner is “heavily scented:”
“As he approached Hume Street corner he found the air heavily scented and his eyes made a swift anxious scrutiny of the young woman’s appearance. She had her Sunday finery on. Her blue serge skirt was held at the waist by a belt of black leather. The great silver buckle of her belt seemed to depress the centre of her body, catching the light stuff of her white blouse like a clip. She wore a short black jacket with mother-of-pearl buttons and a ragged black boa. The ends of her tulle collarette had been carefully disordered and a big bunch of red flowers was pinned in her bosom, stems upwards. Lenehan’s eyes noted approvingly her stout short muscular body. Frank rude health glowed in her face, on her fat red cheeks and in her unabashed blue eyes. Her features were blunt. She had broad nostrils, a straggling mouth which lay open in a contented leer, and two projecting front teeth” (55).
In general, Lenahan approves of the fume of Hume Street and casually yet inconspicuously salutes Corley, wishing him well in his endeavors. Corley plays along, waiting ten seconds before tilting his hat in response, even though presumably Lenehan’s back should be toward the couple by this time as he continues north back toward the Shelbourne. But the text indicates that Lenehan can see his friend’s covert salute, suggesting that he is looking back to scrutinize the woman from behind as well.
Dr. Gustavus Hume was an eighteenth-century surgeon and property developer. Unsurprisingly, the area of Hume Street, though on the opposite side of Stephen’s Green than the Royal College of Surgeons, was the location of several medical sites, including the Dublin Throat and Ear Hospital, listed in an 1892 directory as located at 5 Hume Street. But Dr. Hume didn’t only build medical facilities. He is primarily responsible for the building of several homes in the Stephen’s Green area, including many in Hume Street and around Merrion Square, as well as some facing the Green on the east side, such as those pictured below, that Lenehan would have passed as he observed Corley’s companion.
Prof. Eoin O’Brien, Chairman of the Irish Skin Foundation, also now located in Hume Street, explains in a lecture that although Hume was a medical doctor, his “dominating interest” was architecture. O’Brien explains,
“Gustavus Hume was elected Surgeon to Mercer’s Hospital in 1758. He was appointed censor of the newly founded Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and was present at the first historic meeting of the College, which was held in the boardroom of the Rotunda Hospital on 2nd March, 1734. He became president of the College in 1795. Though he published a number of treatises on medical topics, the mists of time cannot cloud the dominating interest in his life – building and architecture.”
The first Royal College of Surgeons meeting was held at the Rotunda Hospital in 1784. The Rotunda is in Rutland Square, the very first geographical reference in “Two Gallants.” The movement of the two men to the area of Stephen’s Green where the RCSI eventually moved in 1810, then sets up a kind of distorted parallel wherein Corley, with surgical precision, architects a scheme to make a bit of money for himself and his friend. The slavey, whether patient or customer, is completely charmed and readily accommodates Corley, who seems to be lying to or manipulating her.
Incidentally, according to M’Cready’s Dublin Street Names Dated and Explained, Hume’s daughter and heir married Nicholas Loftus, 1st Earl of Ely, after whom the adjoining Ely Place (formerly Hume Row) was named in 1773 (35, 52). Both Hume Street and Ely Place contained a tram line according to an 1883 map of Dublin. In fact, most of Lenehan and Corley’s route follows the tram line as depicted on the map below. This raises questions about why they chose to walk (most likely the cost) and also calls attention to the part of the route they take that deviates from the line. (They choose to walk down Kildare Street from Nassau Street to the Green rather than Dawson Street a block west or Merrion Street a block east. If they had taken either of those paths, they would not have encountered the harpist.)
Note: The following text is that of the author’s presentation at the XXV James Joyce Symposium held in London in June 2016. The original, shorter London entry can be found here.
Across the Water:
Economic and Political Implications of the Dubliners London References
Dubliners, the work through which Joyce initially sought to “betray the soul of that hemiplegia or paralysis that many consider a city” (Letters I 55), turned out to be much a more nuanced portrayal (“betrayal”) of that city by the time the last story was completed in 1907. At the time of his 1904 letter to Constantine Curran, the initial plan for Dubliners only consisted of ten stories. The following year, as Florence Walzl explains in “The Life Chronology of Dubliners,” “he had enlarged his plan for the book from ten to twelve stories” (408), and by 1906, he had completed those two additional stories and also added two more: “Two Gallants” and “A Little Cloud.” The collection now included fourteen stories, a defined “life chronology,” and a much more complicated looking glass than the one he had perhaps initially imagined. While in 1906, he still maintained Dublin was “the centre of paralysis” (Letters II 134) and that his stories about its inhabitants emitted “the odour of ashpits and old weeds and offal,” he also insisted that “the Irish [were] the most spiritual race on the face of the earth” and its people “witty” and “artistic” (Letters I 63-64). In fact, it seems that after he left Dublin in 1904, his ambivalence toward his former compatriots only intensified. By the Fall of 1906, a few months before he wrote the final story, “The Dead,” he lamented to his brother that he feared he had “reproduced (in Dubliners at least) none of the attraction of the city,” admitting that he had never, except in Paris, been as comfortable as he had been in Dublin. He sought to rectify his omission of the virtues of “hospitality” and “insularity” when he wrote “The Dead” (Letters II 166), and with that coda his picture of Dublin was complete.
Parallel to his critique of Dublin, though, was his critique of the capital of the British empire. If Joyce imbued Dublin with a complex ambivalence over the course of writing his stories, he also painted the city’s relationship to London as a particularly complicated montage of economic co-dependence and artistic hope and limitation. Of the six stories that reference the city of London, four do so in terms of artistic standards while the other two, both written later in Joyce’s process, emphasize and lament London’s superior and even abusive economic position in the Dubliners’ lives. It seems that even as he was attempting to redeem what was redemptive about Dublin, he was also becoming harsher in his criticism of the city across the water.
Dubliners contains nearly 200 unique geographical references. Such a focus on place, though not unsurprising in a book named for a city, demands that we consider the implications of place names. For instance, the very first reference in the very first story of the collection is to Great Britain Street. While the street is located in Dublin, its name foregrounds the presence of the British empire in every corner of the Dublin landscape and psyche. Though “The Sisters” isn’t necessarily a very political story–it doesn’t explicitly call attention to the England-Ireland binary–to imbue the geography of Dublin at the very outset with connotations of empire is to hint at the ubiquity of Britain’s grip on everything from the poor North Dublin neighborhood to the subconscious spatial awareness of the youngest Dubliners narrator. The references only become more specific and suggestive in the stories that follow “The Sisters.”
The first story to reference London directly is “The Boarding House,” one of the initial ten stories that had already been written by September 1905. In that story London is mentioned only briefly as the home city of one of the guests: “one of the music-hall artistes, a little blond Londoner, had made a rather free allusion to Polly” (68). The free allusion of the Londoner anticipates the seedier side of London that Joyce would introduce more thoroughly in “A Little Cloud.” In “The Boarding House,” though, it functions as a scene the blond artiste cannot break into, settling instead for what attentions and alms he can wring from an ostensibly less cultured and discriminating Dublin middle class.
The city is alluded to again briefly in “Counterparts,” another of the initial ten stories, as Farrington is reaching his breaking point in Mulligan’s after a night of drinking and storytelling. In the pub he keeps eyeing an attractive woman who is part of a group “out of the Tivoli” theater. The woman he is so fascinated by finally speaks to him in a London accent before leaving and never looking back:
“She glanced at him once or twice and, when the party was leaving the room, she brushed against his chair and said “O, pardon!” in a London accent. He watched her leave the room in the hope that she would look back at him, but he was disappointed. He cursed his want of money and cursed all the rounds he had stood, particularly all the whiskies and Apolinaris which he had stood to Weathers. If there was one thing that he hated it was a sponge. He was so angry that he lost count of the conversation of his friends” (95).
Part of Farrington’s frustration stems from the rejection of this exotic and esteemed Londoner, and it’s just after this exchange that he channels his rage into an arm-wrestling match, which he loses. The rejection of the London woman who is apparently out of his league sets in motion Farrington’s downward spiral of inadequacy and inferiority. Like the Londoner in “The Boarding House,” this woman is an artiste, but her association with the Tivoli sets her somewhat above the likes of the artistes who would be boarding with Mrs. Mooney. In fact, there is a suggestion in her attitude and Farrington’s bitterness at being rejected that this particular artiste is possibly even successful in the London scene, inasmuch as she is part of a touring group rather than a solitary performer like the blond Londoner or Madam Glynn in “A Mother.” Still, the Tivoli was not known for its serious dramas or operas, featuring instead burlesques, pantomimes, and farces. The artiste herself, though, and the artiste’s lifestyle in general, is one that Farrington covets, and his frustration at not being equal in economic status, sexual prowess, or physical strength (he loses at arm wrestling to the English Weathers) all contribute to his violent outburst later that night against his son, when like many bullies, he inflicts the disdain and abuse he suffers on someone who is in turn dependent on him.
“A Mother” persists in the use of London as a measure of artistic success. The Londoner Madame Glynn, one of the singers in the program, is described as “[a]n unknown solitary woman with a pale face” (143) and later as a weak spot in the show:
“The first part of the concert was very successful except for Madam Glynn’s item. The poor lady sang Killarney in a bodiless gasping voice, with all the old-fashioned mannerisms of intonation and pronunciation which she believed lent elegance to her singing. She looked as if she had been resurrected from an old stage-wardrobe and the cheaper parts of the hall made fun of her high wailing notes” (147).
Although she is from London, where, along with Paris and Milan, Bartell D’Arcy insists all the good singers can be found, Madam Glynn is an unknown among the rather inexperienced performers, understudies, and bronze-medalists of Mr. Holohan’s rather patched-together show. Kathleen Kearney has no knowledge of her whatsoever:
“–I wonder where did they dig her up, said Kathleen to Miss Healy. I’m sure I never heard of her.
Miss Healy had to smile. Mr. Holohan limped into the dressing-room at that moment and the two young ladies asked him who was the unknown woman. Mr. Holohan said that she was Madam Glynn from London” (143).
Essentially, Madam Glynn must perform in a sloppily organized Dublin show because, like the blond Londoner in “The Boarding House,” she cannot perform in London because she lacks the talent or economic means to break onto the London scene. Caruso, on the other hand, whose talent D’Arcy extols in the only reference to London in “The Dead,” has toured in London:
“–Oh, well, said Mr. Bartell D’Arcy, I presume there are as good singers today as there were then.
–Where are they? asked Mr. Browne defiantly.
–In London, Paris, Milan, said Mr. Bartell D’Arcy warmly. I suppose Caruso, for example, is quite as good, if not better than any of the men you have mentioned” (199).
“Grace,” which Joyce completed in late 1905, was at that time intended to be the closing piece in the now 12-story collection. The story’s main character, Tom Kernan, makes his living by selling tea for the London-based Pulbrook, Robertson, and Company. Although we don’t learn these specifics until Ulysses, enough of the address on his office is given to reveal that whatever company it is, it’s based in London:
“Modern business methods had spared him only so far as to allow him a little office in Crowe Street, on the window blind of which was written the name of his firm with the address—London, E. C. On the mantelpiece of this little office a little leaden battalion of canisters was drawn up and on the table before the window stood four or five china bowls which were usually half full of a black liquid. From these bowls Mr. Kernan tasted tea. He took a mouthful, drew it up, saturated his palate with it and then spat it forth into the grate. Then he paused to judge” (154).
Again, the livelihood of this Dubliner is tied to industry based in England. That Joyce reintroduces Tom Kernan in Ulysses, along with more details about his employment, suggests that his working for an English firm is a critical part of his identity. Kernan is perhaps an older, now gentler, version of Farrington, still subdued by the British economic yoke and still drinking away the insult of this. Furthermore, his two sons have left Dublin, like they must, in order to achieve a measure of success. Even still, that they venture only as far as Glasgow and Belfast, suggests that the yoke is as wide as it is inescapable.
The two stories written next, after the initial 12 were complete, go further than any of the previous pieces to emphasize Dublin’s economic stagnation at the hands of British rule. “Two Gallants,” completed in February 1906, presents a detailed geography of Dublin as Corley and Lenehan, and then Lenehan alone, wander the city’s streets. With twenty-four geographical references, all of which are in Dublin, it is second only to “The Dead” in its use of place names. And although “Two Gallants” does much to articulate nationalistic themes and Ireland’s relationship with Britain, it never directly mentions London, England, or Great Britain at all. Instead, through the many references to landmarks, streets, and even the characters’ movement patterns, Joyce infuses the story with the history of Irish-English politics, one that, as Torchiana describes it “reflects the historic pomp and grandeur of Ascendancy treacheries that cast long shadows behind the otherwise stunted posturings of Corley and Lenehan near the end of Irish enslavement” (115).
But what is left out in English geographical references in “Two Gallants” is made up exponentially in “A Little Cloud.” Completed in 1906 after “Two Gallants,” it is perhaps the most direct illustration of the economic dichotomy of opportunity and paralysis that both drives and stagnates Joyce’s Dubliners.
In fact, much of the paralysis we see in the collection stems from its characters’ vocational or financial challenges. As Joseph Kelly succinctly puts it, “First and foremost, paralysis was economic” (17). In his examination of Joyce’s political realism, Kelly points to his essay “Fenianism” in which Joyce claims Ireland consists of
“a population which diminishes year by year with mathematical regularity, [through] the uninterrupted emigration to the United States or Europe of Irishmen for whom the economic and intellectual conditions of their native land are unbearable” (CW 190).
One of those emigrants is Little Chandler’s friend Gallaher, whom we learn left Dublin eight years before the story’s opening to make a living on the London Press. From the very beginning of “A Little Cloud,” Chandler appears to be obsessed with his old friend and his old friend’s new home:
Little Chandler’s thoughts ever since lunch-time had been of his meeting with Gallaher, of Gallaher’s invitation and of the great city London where Gallaher lived. (70)
But what really makes London a great city to Chandler? There is nothing in the description to indicate Chandler has any great desire to see the city’s streets or pubs, theaters or waterways. It is simply the great city because it is where Gallaher lives. Gallaher represents the possibilities that Chandler opted out of in favor of a quiet family life.
As we learn in Ulysses, Gallaher works for a “Chapelizod boss” (7.732), another Irish emigrant, likely the real-life Chapelizod-born Alfred Harmsworth who started London’s Daily Mail in 1894 and Daily Mirror in 1903. As “a brilliant figure on the London Press” (71), Gallaher is the epitome of success, even “greatness” (72) in Little Chandler’s eyes (“Ignatius Gallaher on the London Press!” .) And if only Little Chandler could write some verse about the Dublin tramps at nightfall, “[p]erhaps Gallaher might be able to get it into some London paper for him” (73); if only he could accentuate the more “Irish-looking” (74) parts of his name, perhaps he too could be considered among the London literary circles. In other words, Little Chandler considers his Irishness artistic capital in an English economy.
Once Little Chandler finishes his trek from office to pub, in which “[e]very step brought him nearer to London” (73), the two men discuss “the old gang” (75). One of their old friends, O’Hara, who still lives in Dublin has apparently “gone to the dogs” while another friend, Hogan, recently visited “London and he seemed to be very flush” (76). Hogan’s success is further depicted by his position on the Land Commission, an agency that Don Gifford notes was a “notorious porkbarrel” (70). Gifford explains that “[t]he Land Purchase Bills of 1891, 1896, and 1903 provided for the tenants’ purchase of their farms from the landlords through the backing of British credit.” So even though the Irish farmers were getting to buy the land they worked and maintained, they were only enabled to do so by borrowing from Britain. Even in their supposed property-ownership, the Irish are indebted to the British bank. Thus, the Irish Hogan, though still living in Ireland, is “very flush” because his vocation involves securing Ireland’s continued indebtedness to the British financial system.
As their conversation goes on, Gallaher encourages Little Chandler to travel outside of Ireland, and suggests he “[g]o to London or Paris” (76), and as they talk, Little Chandler becomes “disillusioned” by Gallaher’s new manner, but imagines it’s only because of “living in London amid the bustle and competition of the Press (77).” In other words, living in London makes up for the “something vulgar in his friend which he had not observed before.” Little Chandler is even envious of the worldliness that has created the new vulgarity in Gallaher. He begins appropriating London as another “moral” city on a level with Dublin, considering himself and his city, wishfully, in league with Gallaher and London against places like Paris, which he sees as immoral. Gallaher must correct him, though, insisting,
“–London! said Ignatius Gallaher. It’s six of one and half-a-dozen of the other. You ask Hogan, my boy. I showed him a bit about London when he was over there. He’d open your eye…. ” (77)
As uncomfortable as London’ potential immorality makes him, though, Little Chandler still dreams of following Gallaher. All his frustration pours out as at the end of the story as, holding his baby and questioning his marriage, he broods:
“A dull resentment against his life awoke within him. Could he not escape from his little house? Was it too late for him to try to live bravely like Gallaher? Could he go to London? There was the furniture still to be paid for” (83).
Ultimately, it’s his debt that holds him back from leaving his despised home even at the same time that the London literary industry represents a chance to escape. But like Eveline clinging to the rails of the Dublin dock while romance emigrates, Chandler is bound to familial and financial obligations. It is too late for him to seek economic prosperity because he is already under the yoke of Dublin’s dependent economy.
Walzl maintains that “a young man in economically-deprived Ireland was not likely to have reached a degree of prosperity before his mid thirties” (412). Indeed, those characters under 35 who appear or hope to be financially successful, like Frank, Jimmy Doyle, and Ignatius Gallaher are seeking or have sought their fortunes, educations, or vocations elsewhere. Even Gabriel Conroy, a comfortable suburban Dublin resident with coin to spare for a caretaker’s daughter and a night at a hotel, is accused of being a West Briton because he writes for a unionist paper and takes his holidays on the the continent.
The initial twelve stories of the collection seem to primarily utilize London as a gauge by which to apprehend the artistic success or failure of performers. “The Dead” reprises this utilization and cements the notion that good artists are in London, not necessarily or just from London. In its final version, with the addition of “A Little Cloud,” the role London plays as a reference in Dubliners tends to be one of economic privilege in opposition to a struggling Irish middle class. Some of the Dubliners capitalize on British economic opportunities while others find the London market hopelessly impenetrable. In either case, they can only really overcome their economic paralysis by selling themselves to the empire and/or, like Joyce himself before he even wrote most of Dubliners, getting the hell out of Ireland.
Editor’s Note: The following is a guest contribution to the Mapping Dubliners Project. The author, Jennifer Jennings, composed and submitted this piece as a student in Dr. Amanda Sigler’s James Joyce course at Erskine College.
by Jennifer Jennings
Though an important part of Dublin culture, Trinity College Dublin appears in various forms in only three of Joyce’s stories in Dubliners. In “After the Race,” Trinity, under the guise of “Dublin University,” is listed as one of the schools attended by Jimmy Doyle. In “Two Gallants,” Trinity is part of Corley and Lenehan’s route to meet the slavey. In “The Dead,” Trinity is mentioned twice: implicitly in reference to “The University Question,” a political conundrum in twentieth-century Dublin, and explicitly in reference to the college as a landmark in the cityscape. According to the Trinity College Dublin website, “Trinity is recognized for academic excellence and a transformative student experience.” However, without its unique and rich history, Trinity College would not exist as the university it is today.
Trinity has gone through several inceptions since its beginning in the twelfth century. According to Bruce Bidwell and Linda Heffer in their book The Joycean Way, the King of Leinster built the college as an Augustinian Monastery; however, the monastery dissolved in the sixteenth century and the land was appropriated by the city of Dublin (141-142). In Joyce Annotated, Don Gifford says that Elizabeth I used the land to found Trinity College and “further the cause of the Reformation in Ireland” (53). While Trinity College was founded as a Protestant school, the majority of Dublin’s citizens were Catholic, so the school’s intellectual opportunities were denied to the majority of Irish citizens. In fact, for a time Irish Catholic bishops forbade their parishioners to attend Trinity College because of its association with the Protestant domination (53). Gifford writes that while Irish Catholics did have the University College, Dublin, the early curriculum was so below the standards of other colleges that many considered it to have no power to award degrees or provide successful jobs for its students (117).
According to Bidwell and Heffer, Trinity’s main entrance is located on Great Brunswick (Pearse) Street and was built in 1760, destroying the Elizabethan architecture that once characterized the college. A fence separates the main campus from the public sidewalk, and at the main entrance there is a large clock that faces the Bank of Ireland (142). The reference to Trinity College in “Two Gallants” features the fence and the clock at the front entrance. Joyce writes, “As they passed along the railings of Trinity College, Lenehan skipped out into the road and peered up at the clock” (53). Bidwell and Heffer argue that Corley and Lenehan follow the path of the College Green and circle around the front of Trinity College to re-enforce Joyce’s use of circles in the story. These references to circles adumbrate the retrieval of the circular gold coin in the story’s climax. Despite its symbolic role in “Two Gallants,” Trinity’s role in “The Dead” is more nuanced.
In “The Dead,” Trinity College hovers behind Miss Ivors and Gabriel Conroy’s discussion of education. According to Gifford, Joyce’s reference to “The University Question” in “The Dead” marks a political shift in the conversation between Miss Ivors and Gabriel by providing something they can agree on. Joyce says, “When they were together again she spoke of the University question and Gabriel felt more at ease” (188). Gifford writes that “The University Question” deals with the debate amongst Dubliners about the establishment of a university that would provide an education equivalent to that of England and the continent and that would emphasize the Irish culture and Catholic tradition of Ireland (117). Presumably, Miss Ivors and Gabriel can agree that Ireland needs such a college; for Trinity College, while being sufficiently prestigious, did not meld this academic prestige with a Roman Catholic heritage in the early twentieth century. Only after Irish independence did a shift occur, and, by the 1990s, “80 percent of the undergraduates were from Roman Catholic families” (Fargnoli and Gillespie 218).
Joyce mentions Trinity College by name later in the story when Mr. Browne gets a ride from a cabman who is unfamiliar with the layout of the city. He resorts to asking the cabman if he knows where Trinity College is, and when the cabman replies that he does, Mr. Browne says, “Well drive bang up against Trinity College gates… and then we’ll tell you where to go… Make like a bird for Trinity College” (Joyce 209). Joyce uses this reference ironically to indicate that Trinity College is a part of the new Irish culture, and in some way he answers “The University Question” by adumbrating the future of Trinity College as a staple of Irish academia.
Bidwell, Bruce and Linda Heffer. The Joycean Way: A Topographic Guide to ‘Dubliners’ & ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’ with Maps and Photographs. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982. Print.
Fargnoli, A. Nicholas and Michael Patrick Gillespie. James Joyce A to Z: The Essential Reference to the Life and Work. New York: Facts on File, 1995. Print.
Gifford, Don. Joyce Annotated: Notes for Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982. Print.
Phoenix Park is a 1752-acre urban park just north of the River Liffey in the west part of Dublin near the village of Chapelizod. One of the largest capital-city parks in Europe, it houses in its walls not only a zoo, grass fields, woods, sports grounds, a raceway, walking and biking trails, and wild deer descended from those introduced in 1660 when the park was established by the Duke of Ormonde as a hunting ground, but also the residences of both the President of Ireland and the U.S. Ambassador, the headquarters of the Garda Síochána (Irish police), and the National Ambulance Service College (previously the Hibernian Military School “incorporated in 1769,” Joh D’Alton explains, “for maintaining, educating, and apprenticing the orphans and children of soldiers in Ireland” ).
Though Phoenix Park is never mentioned by name in Dubliners, “the Park,” the Parkgate, and locations within the park, like the Wellington Monument and Magazine Hill, are. The Wellington Monument, which stands just inside the park’s main entrance, appears in “The Dead” covered with snow and frost in Gabriel’s imagination, serving in part as an outdoor solitary and quiet contrast to the bustling of the party going on inside the Morkan home:
“Gabriel’s warm trembling fingers tapped the cold pane of the window. How cool it must be outside! How pleasant it would be to walk out alone, first along by the river and then through the park! The snow would be lying on the branches of the trees and forming a bright cap on the top of the Wellington Monument. How much more pleasant it would be there than at the supper-table!” (D 202)
But perhaps the most Phoenix-Park-centric story in Dubliners is “A Painful Case.” The main character, James Duffy, lives in Chapelizod, a village whose name (translated “Iseult’s Chapel”) emanates romantic connotations through its invocation of the Tristan and Iseult story. One of the village’s main roadways, which Duffy traverses, runs along the outside of Phoenix Park’s south wall. The park is referenced at two points in the story. It is the last place James Duffy meets Emily Sinico, a married woman with whom he has “become intimate” (D 110), after what he perceives to have been an awkward and dangerously romantic exchange; and it is where he returns, alone, to walk and think after reading the news of her sudden and disturbing death.
The first reference to the park is used as a kind of response to a near-moment of passion:
“The dark discreet room, their isolation, the music that still vibrated in their ears united them. This union exalted him, wore away the rough edges of his character, emotionalised his mental life. Sometimes he caught himself listening to the sound of his own voice. He thought that in her eyes he would ascend to an angelical stature; and, as he attached the fervent nature of his companion more and more closely to him, he heard the strange impersonal voice which he recognised as his own, insisting on the soul’s incurable loneliness. We cannot give ourselves, it said: we are our own. The end of these discourses was that one night during which she had shown every sign of unusual excitement, Mrs Sinico caught up his hand passionately and pressed it to her cheek.
Mr Duffy was very much surprised. Her interpretation of his words disillusioned him. He did not visit her for a week, then he wrote to her asking her to meet him. As he did not wish their last interview to be troubled by the influence of their ruined confessional they met in a little cakeshop near the Parkgate. It was cold autumn weather but in spite of the cold they wandered up and down the roads of the Park for nearly three hours. They agreed to break off their intercourse: every bond, he said, is a bond to sorrow. When they came out of the Park they walked in silence towards the tram; but here she began to tremble so violently that, fearing another collapse on her part, he bade her good-bye quickly and left her. A few days later he received a parcel containing his books and music” (D 111-12).
Chapelizod itself abounds with mythic and romantic connotations, and Phoenix Park, just by its name, also hints at the deep passion and romanticism repressed within Duffy’s “saturnine” and ordered persona (D 108). For even though “[h]e lived at a little distance from his body,” he lived in a place called Chapelizod and walked in a place called Phoenix Park. Don Gifford explains that “[t]he phoenix, a mythical bird, consumed by fire once a millenium yet reborn of its own ashes, is a traditional symbol variously of Christ and of the regenerative power of passionate love. For the Irish the Phoenix was also a symbol of the rebirth of Ireland as an independent (and ideal) nation” (86). Since Duffy is neither religious (he has no “church nor creed” [D 109] ) nor necessarily political (“No social revolution, he told her, would be likely to strike Dublin for some centuries” [D 111]), the strongest notion the phoenix symbol conveys would certainly seem to be that of “the regenerative power of passionate love.” And although Duffy sees the Parkgate cakeshop as a neutral or platonic space to meet, and perhaps it is inasmuch as it is at the gate between inside and outside Phoenix Park, the couple’s post-cakeshop stroll inside the park can be seen as a return to the potential of romantic love, a reigniting of the very passions he is trying to extinguish. In fact, despite the grey “cold autumn weather,” in Phoenix Park they wander like it’s summer, and even their goodbye is a rather dramatic and tragedic affair.
After Duffy reads of Mrs. Sinico’s death four years later, he is at first repulsed that he ever associated with someone capable of dying in such a way, and then finally starts to mourn the loss of “[h]is soul’s companion!” (D 115). Once the sadness begins, and he realizes how lonely she must have been and how lonely he too would continue to be, he goes back to the park:
“The night was cold and gloomy. He entered the Park by the first gate and walked along under the gaunt trees. He walked through the bleak alleys where they had walked four years before. She seemed to be near him in the darkness. At moments he seemed to feel her voice touch his ear, her hand touch his. He stood still to listen. Why had he withheld life from her? Why had he sentenced her to death? He felt his moral nature falling to pieces” (D 116-17).
As he stands on Magazine Hill, feeling guilty and alone, he observes two lovers and then hears Emily’s name in the sound of a passing train:
“He looked down the slope and, at the base, in the shadow of the wall of the Park, he saw some human figures lying. Those venal and furtive loves filled him with despair. He gnawed the rectitude of his life; he felt that he had been outcast from life’s feast. One human being had seemed to love him and he had denied her life and happiness: he had sentenced her to ignominy, a death of shame. He knew that the prostrate creatures down by the wall were watching him and wished him gone. No one wanted him; he was outcast from life’s feast. He turned his eyes to the grey gleaming river, winding along towards Dublin. Beyond the river he saw a goods train winding out of Kingsbridge Station, like a worm with a fiery head winding through the darkness, obstinately and laboriously. It passed slowly out of sight; but still he heard in his ears the laborious drone of the engine reiterating the syllables of her name” (D 117).
The connotations of passion implicit in the allusions to the Tristan and Iseult story and the Phoenix force the reader to at the very least consider the storm raging in Duffy as he recalls Emily Sinico’s life-force as a potential rebirth for him (if not an initial birth), one that allows him to embrace the full power of his longings, whether those longings be for writing, adventure, or romantic love. The rebirth comes as he stands on a hill in Phoenix Park, watching the “worm with a fiery head” winding away in the darkness “reiterating the syllables of her name.” Her life, which woke him from his solitude, made him face emotional intimacy; and her death, to which he believes he sentenced her, has the potential to be a kind of gambit necessary for him to finally realize his erotic, and even homoerotic, desire.
But like most of the characters in Dubliners, although the epiphany is just there, clawing at the heart, it is muted by guilt and the perception of his life as “an adventureless tale” (D 109).
Editor’s Note: The following is the first guest contribution to the Mapping Dubliners Project. The author, Sarah Hoyt, is a senior at Erskine College and a student in Dr. Amanda Sigler’s James Joyce course. She graduates May 21. 2016 with a B.A. in English.
by Sarah Hoyt
St Stephen’s Green, known informally as Stephen’s Green or simply the Green, is a public park located in the heart of Dublin.
Historically, that stretch of land which would eventually become St Stephen’s Green began its life as a marshy plot. The website for Ireland’s Office of Public Works notes that the “name St Stephen’s Green originates from a church called St Stephen’s in that area in the thirteenth century” and that the area originally was used by the citizens of the city of Dublin to graze their livestock. However, in 1663 the plot of ground was decided by the City Assembly to be perfect for generating a consistent revenue for Dublin; twenty-seven acres were marked for the park and the remaining land was let after its division into ninety building lots. In The Joycean Way, Bidwell and Heffer explain that the “central portion was planted and lots… were distributed among some of the city’s more prosperous citizens. [The citizens] were not required to build, and for some time much of the south and east side was retained in agriculture and grazing” as it had been prior to its creation (140).
Nevertheless, according to Fargnoli and Gillespie in James Joyce A to Z, by 1670 the park was “enclosed for citizens to ‘take the open aire’” (196). Taking “the open aire” was presumably quite fashionable, and soon the wealthy of the city had fully taken over by moving in and claiming the location as distinctly their own. By the eighteenth century the park had been encircled by a host of Georgian mansions, and the “Beaux Walk situated along the northern perimeter of the park became a popular location for high society to promenade” (OPW).
Despite the initial clamor for residing in St Stephen’s Green by those who were rich and high-born, the park was neglected over much of the nineteenth century (Bidwell and Heffer 140). Though one effort in 1814 to beautify the park was raised, in which a “broken wall [was replaced] with ornate Victorian railings and… more trees and shrubs [were planted],” as well as “[n]ew walks… constructed to replace the formal paths previously found in the park” (OPW), overall the construction was considered a failure by the majority of Dubliners. With these improvements, the Green became a private park—in spite of the 1635 law decreeing the park “available for use by all citizens.” The 1814 move from an open to a private park “was widely resented by the public” (OPW).
Not until 1877 was St Stephen’s Green once more opened to the public. At the behest of Sir Arthur Guinness, later Lord Ardilaun, the Green was bought from its private owners and returned to the public. “[Sir Arthur Guinness] paid off the park’s debts and secured an Act which ensured that the park would be managed by the Commissioners of Public Works, now the OPW” (OPW). This done, Lord Ardilaun extensively relandscaped the park, adding not only trees and huge flowerbeds but a three-acre lake with a waterfall and a bridge, and enclosed the park in wrought-iron railings (OPW; Fargnoli and Gillespie 196). The new renovation, “[a]fter three long years of construction work” and expenditures of “£20,000” (OPW), was opened to the public on July 27, 1880. The public loved it immediately; it “quickly reemerged as a popular gathering place for Dubliners of all classes” (Fargnoli and Gillespie 196)—from the very rich to the very poor.
It is important, nonetheless, to bear in mind that St Stephen’s Green in Joyce’s time was considered to be “[a] sizable public park in a fashionable section of east-central Dublin,” as Gifford points out in Joyce Annotated (54). Knowing both the contemporary and the historical context of the park can help readers to better grasp what Joyce may have meant by inserting St Stephen’s Green into “After the Race” and “Two Gallants.”
In “After the Race,” the main character in the story, Jimmy Doyle, and his wealthy foreign friends—jubilant because of their success in the race—make their way across the park:
“The young men strolled along Stephen’s Green in a faint cloud of aromatic smoke. They talked loudly and gaily and their cloaks dangled from their shoulders. The people made way for them” (Joyce 46).
Bidwell and Heffer argue that, in “After the Race,” Joyce may be using St Stephen’s green as a metaphor to evoke the “‘corruption’ which Stephen senses pervading Dublin” (50). As Stephen’s Green is “associated with the rich and sophisticated in Dublin” (Bidwell and Heffer 125), Joyce may been seen as referring to St Stephen’s Green because he is attempting to strip the walk that the characters are taking of its illusory extravagance and instead display the underlying and repulsive corruption that lies behind the wealth of the main characters.
In “Two Gallants,” the mood surrounding St Stephen’s Green is sombre, as Lenehan and Corley—and then only Lenehan, alone—walk from the road into the park:
“The two young men [Lenehan and Corley] walked up the street without speaking, the mournful music following them. When they reached Stephen’s Green they crossed the road [to enter the Green itself]. Here the noise of trams, the lights and the crowd released them from their silence” (Joyce 54).
“He [Lenehan] walked listlessly round Stephen’s Green. . . “(56).
Although the tone surrounding St Stephen’s Green seemingly differs in the two works, the meaning in both cases points toward corruption. Here, the corruption is not so much of wealth as of “treachery” (Bidwell and Heffer 50). The fact that “several scoundrelly characters are associated with the area” bolsters this notion of treachery (50). Captain O’Shea, who “betrayed the relationship between [Charles Stewart] Parnell and Kitty O’Shea, attended the university at 86 Stephen’s Green” (50). This address was also home to Buck Whaley, acceptor of a £4,000 bribe to vote against his own political party and a “boon-companion to Francis Higgins,” who nefariously contributed to suppressing the Rising of 1798; Higgins himself “lived at 82 St Stephen’s Green” (50).
This list of scoundrelly characters from Irish history is only furthered by the actions of Lenehan and Corley near St Stephen’s Green—like the characters who lived there before them, Lenehan and Corley are scoundrels steeped in the same “decadent commingling of greed, peremptory self-righteousness, and sexual intrigue” that their historical predecessors exhibited (according to Donald Torchiana, quoted in Bidwell and Heffer 84). Lenehan and Corley’s insertion into St Stephen’s Green draws attention to the “historical associations” of “the debauchery, perfidity and false nobility” of Dublin (Bidwell and Heffer 84). St Stephen’s Green, for Joyce, is then merely another metaphor for the layers of corruption, greed, falsity, and treachery that paralyse all the characters in his Dubliners.
Bidwell, Bruce and Linda Heffer. The Joycean Way: A Topographic Guide to Dubliners & A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man with Maps and Photographs. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982. Print.
“Cultural Heritage: St Stephen’s Green.” The Office of Public Works. Web. 14 Apr 2016.
Fargnoli, A. Nicolas, and Michael P. Gillespie. James Joyce A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Writings. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. Print.
Gifford, Don. Joyce Annotated: Notes for Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982. Print.
Joyce, James. Dubliners. Ed. Robert Scholes and Richard Ellmann. New York: Viking Press, 1967. Print.