Duffy as the Übermensch

According to Friedrich Nietzsche, "'free spirits'...do not exist, did not exist" but "could one day exist" (18). Mr. James Duffy, the protagonist of James Joyce's "A Painful Case" in Dubliners, has characteristics similar to that of Nietzsche's theoretical overman. Nevertheless, although Duffy appears to live like an overman, his life ironically parallels an ascetic religion from which he cannot escape. His orientation towards Dublin, society, and his relationship with Mrs. Sinico have Nietzschian undertones, although they remain fundamentally religious, thereby ensuring the impossibility of Duffy ever reaching Ãbermensch status.

In both the preface to Human, all too Human and Thus Spake Zarathustra, Nietzsche lays out the key traits of his Ãbermensch. This intellectual overman has a "profound degree of suspicion" of society (Human 17) and thus, like Zarathustra, would "posses his spirit in solitude" (Zar. 3), living isolated from others in the mountains until he can rise above the everyday values of society. He is a man of "a high and select kind" (Human 18) who "do[es] not give alms" (Zar. 4). Most importantly, he was once a "fettered...

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