• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The Boarding House, written by James Joyce, takes place in a small neighborhood located in Dublin.

Extracts from this document...


The Boarding House, written by James Joyce, takes place in a small neighborhood located in Dublin, during the early 1900's. The story begins with a retelling of Mrs. Mooney's disastrous marriage. Not long after Mr. and Mrs. Mooney opened a butcher's shop, Mr. Mooney begins to drink. He also "plundered the till, ran headlong into debt." Then "by fighting his wife in the presence of customers and by buying bad meat he ruined his business". He even "went for his wife with the cleaver." In a simple paragraph with the descriptions above, Joyce has portrayed three main ingredient of marital dysfunction found in Dublin: excessive drinking, economic instability, and domestic violence. Like many other stories in Dubliners, Mrs. Mooney is paralyzed by this hopeless marriage, and trapped by the expectations of the society and the pressure of the Catholic Church. Unable to get a divorce from the "shabby stooped little drunkard" she calls husband, Mrs. Mooney could only settle for a separation sanctioned by the church. Being a very resourceful woman, Mrs. Mooney sold the butcher's shop and opens a boarding house, where she gives her daughter Polly "the run of the young men". Polly, Mrs. Mooney's nineteen years old daughter has "eyes which are grey with a shade of green through them". ...read more.


Mrs. Mooney's reflection enables her to assess her own character and her aim precisely: the picture is "decisive" and "satisfying." She has created a perfect opportunity for the expectations of the society to paralyze and trap Mr. Doran, leaving him no options but to compensate. Unlike other mothers, who "would be content to patch up such an affair for a sum of money... she would not do so. For her only one reparation could make up for the loss of her daughter's honor: marriage." The "reparation" Mrs. Mooney wants is not so much a simple mode of exchange but rather a long-term compensation--since after all what has been taken from Polly cannot in any sense be repaired or restored. It is as well a form of re-compensation for Mrs. Mooney's own disastrous marriage. Like previously mentioned, Mr. Doran is "a serious young man, not rakish or loud-voiced like the others" and he also has a constant source of income. How different from Mrs. Mooney's "shabby stooped little drunkard" of a husband who had ruined her previous "business." Like Mrs. Kearney in the story A Mother, Mrs. Mooney is desperately trying to fulfill her dream though her daughter, trying to make up for her hard life and disastrous marriage. ...read more.


Doran, presumably to hear his marriage proposal, she is not in the least bit surprised. Polly's eyes, her clear insight, and the last glimpse of her expose to us a woman every bit as sneaky as her mother. The final climactic choice is not really a choice at all; Joyce omits the crucial confrontation between Mr. Doran and Mrs. Mooney, because the determination of Mrs. Mooney and pressures of society are so strong, we know what Mr. Doran will choose. Like all human beings, all three of the main characters in The Boarding House are motivated by the instincts for survival. Mrs. Mooney needs to rent out rooms to traveling men in order to support her family, and she needs to find a husband to support Polly after she passes away. Polly needs to find a husband, both to take her place in the adult world and to get rid of the rumors. And once Mrs. Mooney confronts Mr. Doran, he has to marry Polly in order to preserve his own reputation and job. Even though this story ends with the prospect of marriage, it is not a happy solution, for all three characters are paralyzed by the expectations and trapped inside the narrow boxes of Dublin society. So are people really in control of anything, or are we just slaves to our surrounding? ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level James Joyce section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level James Joyce essays

  1. Commentary on The Boarding House.

    Society puts extra pressure on Mr. Doran and forces him to accept the reparation proposed by Mrs. Mooney. His promising social position makes him fail to withstand publicity nor risk the loss of his job as "a great catholic wine-merchant."

  2. Discuss Joyce’s treatment of the theme of paralysis in the stories on childhood in ...

    get a nice warm whipping...He described to me how he would whip such a boy as if he were unfolding some elaborate mystery. He would love that he said, better than anything in this world; and his voice, as he led me monotonously through the mystery, grew almost affectionate and seemed to plead with me that I should understand him."

  1. "These stories are all about escape and how characters are unable to escape." ...

    What matters to her is trading on her feigned outrage to get a social arrangement that will benefit her daughter.

  2. An analytical study of 'The Pit and The Pendulum', 'An Encounter' and 'The Pedestrian', ...

    I grew frantically mad, and struggled to force myself upward against the sweep of the fearful scimitar. And then I fell suddenly calm, and lay smiling at the glittering death...' Psychological entrapment in the story is offered in the form of 'The Pit'.

  1. Discuss Joyce's treatment of women in Dubliners, Portrait and selected chapters of Ulysses.

    However, the feminist movement may have found some sympathies within Joyce. This is shown by the revolutionary attitudes expressed by some of Stephen's compatriots: 'Stephen, you're an antisocial being, wrapped up in yourself. I'm not. I'm a democrat and I'll work and act for social liberty and equality among all classes and sexes' (P.

  2. Comparing and Contrast James Joyce

    'All the seas of the world tumbled about her heart.He was drowning her into them.' This is a metaphoric sea.This is giving us the impression that she is drowning in her troubles and that she is feeling pressured into what decision she is to make.Another image that was used in

  1. James Joyce: An Exhaustion at the

    No M-sis, a y-intercept with gloom. "Her dress swung as she moved her body and the soft rope of her hair tossed from side to side." Everything freezes. All the anthologies of Mother Earth. A halt. Not a step forward. Not a step tracing the preceding step.

  2. Joyce Intended Dubliners to betray the soul of that paralysis which many consider a ...

    Her rhetorical statement that ?He?ll look after her, won?t he?? further evinces this. In ?The Sisters?, Joyce advocates the young boy as being under a verbal paralysis, "But they had never pulled together from the first, he and Mr. Alleyne".

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work