Euphemism In James Joyce's 'A Little Cloud'

1008 Words 4 Pages
Hartman suggests that ‘it is generally the task of the critic to uncover euphemism in any sphere: literary, psychological, political.’ It is in this psychological sphere that this essay will investigate ‘A Little Cloud’ (1914) by James Joyce. It will argue that the text reflects key aspects of Freudian theory, and will provide evidence from both the text, and wider supporting research.
The primary distinction made by psychoanalytic theory is between the ‘self’ and the ‘subject’, although it is notoriously difficult to differentiate between the two. Freud introduced the idea of the ‘self’ being split between two states: the conscious, and the unconscious. Bennett and Royle support this, suggesting that

‘Literature, like art more generally,
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In the story, Little Chandler is restricted from realising his dreams because of the demands of reality: ‘Could he go to London? There was the furniture still to be paid for.’ (79) This indicates that this inane, yet realistic task is controlling his impulse to escape his life. This is supported by Balkaya, who indicates that

‘Freud suggests that people have some kinds of desires which are suppressed because of the society and social rules/order. […] People or characters in a literary work repress or try to achieve them by dreams or imagination.’

This can be seen in ‘A Little Cloud’, as Chandler has dreams of becoming a poet, but never actualises this ambition. This also links to the Freudian theory of repression as a tool for internalising traumatic events and an inability to achieve personal goals. This is supported by John Lye, who suggests
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His treatment of his own son, and his lack of ability to calm him supports this, as it provides the suggestion that Chandler’s parents had the same lack concerning him. He refers to the child as ‘it’, suggesting a disassociation that may also stem from his own childhood: ‘It began to sob piteously, losing its breath for four or five seconds, and then bursting out anew.’ (80) This is supportive of the theory that repression is linked to culture, and that an individual’s experience of it enforces the processes of the unconscious

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