Discuss Joyce’s Use of Free Indirect Discourse in ‘Counterparts' and 'a Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man'

1369 Words Sep 10th, 2012 6 Pages
James Joyce

Discuss Joyce’s use of free indirect discourse in Counterparts and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

Joyce utilises free indirect discourse to convey the sense of an individual processing the world around him in an idiosyncratically subjective way. In many of Joyce’s portraits, whether of his Dubliners or of his semi-autobiographical Stephen Dedalus, the narrative is confined by the limitations of the character’s state of mind; as the individual consciousness pervades the narrative, Joyce is able to retain an authorial distance which can disorientate his readers to an arguably greater effect than stream-of-consciousness, or indeed any other type of narrative. In its hybrid of characteristics of both direct
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As with the ‘mournful whistle’ of the boat in Eveline, or the bell which ‘clanged upon her {Eveline’s} heart’, such perceptions reveal valuable insight into a character’s state of mind. In Counterparts, these details immediately convey Farrington’s dissatisfaction with his employment, and the violent impulses that his subsequent frustration breeds. These explosive impulses are repressed with great difficulty, particularly his inability to release them upon his boss.

Seen from the hulking perspective of his grudging underling, Mr. Alleyne is caricatured as a grotesque ‘manikin’. As Farrington stands before his employer, the reader is made to view Alleyne through the eyes of the protagonist:

‘The man stared fixedly at the polished skull which directed the affairs of Crosbie & Alleyne, gauging its fragility. A spasm of rage gripped his throat for a few moments and then passed, leaving after it a sharp sensation of thirst. The man recognised the sensation and felt that he must have a good night’s drinking’ (pg. 83).

In such passages at this, we are made to follow the thought processes occurring within Farrington’s mind; as ever, his thoughts draw him back towards the public house. Joyce’s descriptions of Alleyne’s head are disconcerting for the reader; having already been described as being ‘like a large egg’, the assessment of its ‘fragility’ invites the reader to participate in Farrington’s reveries of breaking it apart

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