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Theme of Love in Joyce’s Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Ulysses

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Theme of Love in Joyce’s Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Ulysses
 

A central theme in James Joyce’s works is that of love: what is it, and how can we discuss it? Joyce could not bring himself to use the word ‘love;’ when Nora asked him if he loved her he could only say that he "was very fond of her, desired her, admired and honored her, and wished to secure her happiness in every way; and if these elements were what is called love then perhaps his affection for her was a kind of love" (Ellmann 6). One can read Molly Bloom’s "Oh, rocks. Tell us in plain words" as Nora’s answer to Joyce’s intellectual, complicated answer (Joyce, Ulysses 64). Perhaps as a result of Joyce’s own concern and questions about love, many of his characters are also confused and looking for a definition of love. There are many kinds of love discussed in Joyce’s works, including love for ideals, family, friends, God, and most importantly, husband and wife. This paper will explore the theme of love in Joyce’s work and show that love is a basic concept in life; characters unsure of this concept need to find a concrete definition before they can be comfortable. To do this I will analyze characters from Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Ulysses, using the Greek ideals of agape; spiritual love, storge; familial love, philia; the love between friends, and eros; sexual love.

Godlike Love: Agape

Ulysses opens with Buck Mulligan calling Stephen a "fearful jesuit" and mocking church rituals as he shaves (Joyce, Ulysses 3). The two main characters of this novel, Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom have each fallen from their respective faiths. They both suffer for their religious affiliations; Bloom is excluded and h...


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...me to terms with the part of love that is comprised of forgiveness. Stephen is yet doomed to wander in search of the meaning of love, but Bloom has found an incomplete definition, at least of eros.
 
Works Cited
Burton, John. "ClassicNote." GradeSaver. http://www.gradesaver.com/ClassicNotes/Titles/ulysses/. July 5th, 2000.
Dibattista, Maria. First Love. University of Chicago Press. Chicago, 1991.
Ellmann, Richard. Joyce in Love. Cornell University Library. Ithaca, NY. 1959.
Joyce, James. Dubliners. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The Portable James Joyce. Harry Levin, ed. Penguin. 1976, New York. Ulysses. Vintage, New York. 1961.
Lockett, Joseph. "Four Loves, No Loves." http://www.io.com/~jlockett/Grist/English/ulysses.html
Valente, Francesca. "Joyce’s Dubliners as Epiphanies." The Modern Word. http://www.themodernword.com/joyce/paper_valente.htmls


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