The Writing and Life of James Joyce By Brendan Griffin

Writing Style

While Joyce was not the first, (author Édouard Dujardin preceded him with his book Laurier sont coupés in 1887) Joyce definitely had an impact upon the "stream of consciousness" narrative mode.

Using this style of writing, Joyce allowed the reader to take a "peek" into the thought patterns of the characters in his works, giving the reader an uncensored and direct access point into the thoughts of Joyce's characters.

Joyce wanted to capture the thoughts of those in his works exactly as they were first made: unchanged and spontaneous. By using the stream of consciousness form of writing, Joyce was able to capture actuality exactly as it happened.

Some of Joyce's works that capture Joyce's "stream of consciousness" writing style are Dubliners and Ulysses. Joyce follows the thought patterns of the citizens of Dublin, Ireland in his novel Dubliners, and a day in the life of Dr. Leopoldo Bloom in Joyce's novel Ulysses.

Major Themes


In Dubliners, Joyce vehemently believed that social progress in Ireland had come to an immediate and sudden halt due to the encroaching forces of England and the Catholic Church. As a result of these forces, in Joyce's view, the entrance into the 1900s was a rough time for Ireland, as it had become one of the most under-developed countries in Europe as a result of the aforementioned forces.

Additionally, in Dubliners, it is revealed in the first few line of the story that Father Flynn died of paralysis, as the main character reflects on the word paralysis, "Every night as I gazed up at the window I said softly to myself the word paralysis." Many of the short stories by Joyce included in Dubliners focus on paralysis as a major theme, whether it be a character experiencing the paralysis of another, or undergoing paralysis themselves.


The poverty experienced by those in Ireland at the turn of the twentieth century is displayed front and center in the works of Joyce, especially in Dubliners. The occurance of the Potato Famine in 1848 had a major effect on the economy of Ireland as a whole, and the effects of this catastrophe are shown through the experiences of Joyce's characters.

In A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, the main character Stephen writes poems of the backs of bills, showing the poverty his family faces in that Stephen finds it easier to write on the backs of bills rather than actual paper.


As mentioned before, Joyce views the forces of the Catholic Church as being responsible for holding the country of Ireland back at the turn of the twentieth century in Dubliners.

Bibliography and Major Works


Joyce was born on February 2, 1882 to John Joyce and Mary Jane Murray. Joyce was born into the Catholic middle class, and had a Jesuit education. Initially wanting to become a priest, Joyce eventually became a poet and writer. Joyce's mother died in 1903, and Joyce left Ireland in 1904. Joyce wrote Dubliners between 1903 and 1907, and it was published in 1914. A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man was published in 1916, and Ulysses was published in 1922. Joyce died on January 13, 1941 after recently entering Switzerland.

Major Works

Dubliners (1914)

A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man (1916)

Ulysses (1922)

Finnegan's Wake (1939)

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