Ethical Joyce by Marian Eide

By Marian Eide

Marian Eide argues that the primary trouble of James Joyce's writing used to be the production of a literary ethic. Eide examines Joyce's moral preoccupations all through his paintings, fairly the stress among his dedication as an artist and his social responsibilities as a father and citizen in the course of a tumultuous interval of eu background. this can be the 1st examine dedicated to Joyce's moral philosophy because it emerges in his writing.

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If he were dead, I thought, I would see the reflection of candles on the darkened blind for I knew that two candles must be set at the head of a corpse” (D ). Flynn is separated from the reader’s perspective by the window through which the boy looks; his present survival is indicated by the absence of the candles traditionally lit to mark death. Father Flynn is included in the story only by omission: as the narrative concludes he is physically present at his wake though already dead. However, he is the subject of much attention: the boy’s thoughts, the sister’s conversation.

Richard poses the question: how can a modern subject define love in a way that “liberates” the lovers? Joyce, by cloaking the events in Robert’s cottage, poses a slightly different question: how might an audience respond ethically to the moral dilemmas posed by a play?  When the curtain is drawn between the acts, the predictable curiosity aroused by this mysterious treatment becomes the central issue in the play. In his notes preparing to write Exiles, Joyce inscribed his intention to produce doubt in the audience: “The doubt which clouds the end of the play must be conveyed to the audience not only through Richard’s questions to both [Bertha and Robert] but also from the dialogue between Robert and Bertha” (E ).

The first relation is an ethical relation. Irigaray’s focus on the placenta in understanding procreation provides a welcome antidote to more prevalent versions of the maternal relation that assume an initial fusion which must be rejected for the child to gain autonomy and individuation. The misogynist implication inherent in this theory is that the devouring mother must be rejected, or even abjected, for the subject to emerge. As Kelly Oliver argues in Family Values: “If abjection of the mother or maternal body is described as a normal or natural part of child development, then one consequence is that without some antidote to this abjection, all of our images of mothers and maternal bodies are at some level abject because we all necessarily rejected our own mothers in order to become individuals” (ibid ).

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