The Erotic in Joyce's Short Stories

It is Joyce's use of voyeurism that most characterizes the erotic in "The Dead," "The Boarding House," "Two Gallants," and "Araby." Eroticism is strongly driven by mystery and suspense. By creating a passive individual experiencing sexuality without actual contact, Joyce can use every aspect of that individual's own perception to paint the ideally charged moment. The voyeur simply watches and waits, desire increasing with avoided consummation. In all four stories, the details, tones, circumstances, imagery and language communicate eroticism by emphasizing this desire. Actual interaction, when it happens, is veiled from the reader, creating a whole separate world in what isn't told. We see erotic action through imagination, memory or description. The lack of realization and interaction strengthens the erotic by keeping it veiled, creating in inner world we cannot know. The rhythm of Joyce's cyclical motifs and the sensuality of his visual images create the perfect frame for this sense of recognition and desire without consummation.

Joyce tends to occupy more than one consciousness in weaving his narrative (Fisher, in lecture, 10/4/99). Watching and waiting are characteristic...

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