The New Manly Woman: How Female Strength of Self is Achieved through Expression and Ownership of Sexuality in Joyce
Like character actors or members of an ensemble drama, women are omnipresent in Joyce’s literary corpus. In Dubliners, for example, women are painted and developed within a variety of character framings. The reader is exposed to woman as sister (such as the sisters Moran in “The Dead”), as young girl (Eveline), as ethereal object of a boy’s first affection (like Mangan’s sister in “Araby”), as a not-so-innocent temptress (like Polly in “The Boarding House”), and as a figure devastated by heartache (Mrs. Sinico in “A Painful Case,” perhaps driven to suicide by an unrequited love). Because he follows what appears to be a taxonomy or veritable check-list of female archetypes, Joyce’s representations of women have led feminist critics, such as Suzette Henke and Elaine Unkeless in their work, Women in Joyce, to fault him for his “tendency to interpret women characters symbolically.” Although plentiful, these feminized “hats,” these various personas, are products of interpretation through a masculine lens. They are roles assigned by the dominant male “other,” or character profiles culturally exacted by the larger patriarchal framework at play. As universal images, these women are defined by how they act with or impress upon the men...
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