Dubliners

Friendship in "The Sisters" and "An Encounter” College

Joyce’s presentation of friendship focusses upon what is expected of it and how one wishes to experience it, contrasted with what it really is and how one actually experiences it. While the narrator begins ‘The Sisters’ with a degree of openness: ’There was no hope for him this time’, he gradually withdraws from engaging with the story (beginning to stop interpreting the information he is exposed to; for example, his mother’s conversation with the two sisters). This idea of hope and ‘openness’ concerning new experiences, and old ‘friendships’, is what Joyce strips back to reveal the unfortunate reality of shame and selfishness. This does not mean that friendships are a facade; rather, what constitutes the reality of a friendship is not purely compassionate emotion. Joyce hints at compassion laced with doubt and the inability to truly connect with other human beings: ‘always despising’ someone or something ‘a little’, thus giving rise to raw, realistic, imperfect yet seemingly harmonic presentation of friendship.

In ‘The Sisters’, Joyce’s presentation of friendship revolves around the key disruption in the link between emotion and action; how the mechanics of a friendship are so distant in their operation. Joyce highlights human...

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