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Explore the ways in which James Joyce illustrates the character and behaviour or Mr Duffy, in his story, ‘A Painful Case’.

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Paul Talbot Explore the ways in which James Joyce illustrates the character and behaviour or Mr Duffy, in his story, 'A Painful Case'. 'A Painful Case' by James Joyce is a story about a man, Mr James Duffy, who lives on his own, and has very little contact with anybody. He is very lonely and isolated from the outside world, until one day he forges an unlikely friendship with a married woman, Mrs Emily Sinico. Their relationship becomes very close, and eventually Mrs Sinico attempts to develop it to a more intimate level - the prospect of which frightens Mr Duffy, who is then forced, by his own fear and pride, to end the relationship. The story then moves on several years, and Mr Duffy returns to his solitary and somewhat distant lifestyle. He reads of the death, and suspected suicide, of Mrs Sinico, and begins to reflect on his isolated and desolate past, and regret his actions towards his relationship with Mrs Sinico. The story ends with: "He thought he was alone". ...read more.


This notion of a red carpet demonstrates his elitist preference; it gives the subtle impression of royal stature. Secondly, there is a "manuscript translation of Hauptmann's Michael Kramer... in purple ink". This shows that Joyce wanted to portray Mr Duffy as an intellectual, or somebody who thinks of himself as a literary connoisseur. This idea is pursued with the fact that Mr Duffy has a "complete Wordsworth". He also owns a copy of "The Maynooth Catechism", which is a book outlining Christian morals and commandments, presumably published in the Irish town of Maynooth, in County Kildare. This, along with the fact that he accompanies his family at funerals, is the only evidence of any religious interest of the character of Mr Duffy. However, minor religious connotations are referred to in the story. For example, Mrs Sinico becomes his "confessor", and in their final meeting, he thought that, in her eyes, he would ascend to an "angelic stature". This shows that his character is somewhat divided. He has no specific church or creed, and has no communion with others, but doesn't discard any catechism or basic human faith and morals: an analogy to his accustomed social rebellion. ...read more.


"He turned back the way he had come, the rhythm of the engine pounding in his ears. He began to doubt the reality of what memory told him. He halted under a tree and allowed the rhythm to die away. He could not feel her near him in the darkness nor her voice touch his ear. He waited for some minutes listening. He could hear nothing: the night was perfectly silent. He listened again: perfectly silent. He felt that he was alone." Although, written as part of a short anaphoric narrative in the story, it gives the subtle impression of a connection to Mr Duffy's own autobiographical habit. This concluding paragraph is the most important clue to Mr Duffy's continual behaviour, yet also a sudden epiphany. It not only gives the readers a final overview of Mr Duffy's behaviour throughout, but it is also a realisation within the story - Mr Duffy, as well as the reader, is summing up the facts that have been prominent from the beginning - Facts that beforehand, Mr Duffy was oblivious to. ...read more.

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