Date of Award
Languages & Literature
Sister Miriam Roesler
To be Irish isn't easy—there's no smug sense of being "right", such as the English enjoy, no solid identification with the Faderland, such as is held by the Germans, nor the pride in accomplishment that most Americans cherish. There's an uneasy feeling of limbo in an Irishman's heart—not quite secure in his love for his country and its traditions, passionate in his defense of its errors and pain in the knowledge of its failures. For me, half-Irish, wholly involved in love of Ireland, yet angry and dismayed by its violence, it has become less and less simple. I avoided for many years the Irish authors, too many of the things about which they wrote hurt and angered me. Becoming involved with James Joyce and his work has not been an easy experience for me—particularly since I am a descendant of a man named Thomas Joyce, from Cork, Ireland. It has been, however, a cathartic experience; over and over I recognized in his work emotions I have felt for so long: a sense of frustration, a feeling of compassion for his people and a recognition of the hopelessness of change in that trou bled land. Once I had committed myself to the study of Dubliners and began to understand the things Joyce was saying, I found that I was better able to deal with my own emotions about my father's people. In addition to the identification and caring I found in the stories, the use of music, another of my loves, fascinated me. Irish music has always seemed to me to reflect the heart of the Irishman—more often than not sad and longing, yet carrying somewhere in its mournful refrain the overtones of sunlight, much like the golden light that suffuses the damp air of the Emerald Isle when the brief rain showers have passed. It seemed to me, then, a logical, almost compulsive thing to explore the use of music in this book which said so many important things about this land. Presumptuous as it may be, I think James Joyce and I have a lot in common in our view of Ireland! I hope in this brief study to show that James Joyce did two things: (1) gave the world a picture of the Irish soul which is as valid today as it was over a half-century ago when it was written and (2) used a canvas on which to paint the deep Irish consciousness of melody and rhythm, theme and counterpoint which is an integral part of the character of the Emerald Isle and its inhabitants.
Petty, Patricia, "Melodies Of Joyce's Dubliners" (1975). Languages and Literature Undergraduate Theses. 73.