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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, or Sailor: A Focused Exploration of Perpetual Singleness and Spinsterhood in James Joyce's Dubliners.

Smith, Katherine E. (2015) Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, or Sailor: A Focused Exploration of Perpetual Singleness and Spinsterhood in James Joyce's Dubliners. Masters thesis, Radford University.

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Abstract

One hundred years before Ireland’s national conscience awoke to the horrors of the Magdalen Asylums, often euphemistically referred to as the Magdalen Laundries, James Joyce wrote a collection of short stories, which quietly illustrated the stark reality of life in Ireland for both married and unmarried women in the early 20th century. That collection of fictional tales that Joyce penned, though simply titled as Dubliners, has become one of the most authoritative pieces on the emotional turmoil and cultural struggles that plagued women in 20th century Ireland. While serving more as a cultural and socioeconomic kaleidoscope of everyday life in Ireland during the 20th century, Dubliners explores the societal expectations and restrictions of marriage, spinsterhood, and even the idea of being a single female in a culture that is dominated by men. Throughout this thesis, I will analyze Joyce’s “Eveline,” “The Dead,” and “Clay” as they pertain to the institution of marriage, the isolation of spinsterhood, and the uncertainty of singleness in Ireland. Relying heavily on cultural illuminations, such as the purpose of the Magdalen Laundries and historical and marital records of Ireland in the 20th century, I will argue that to be a woman in 20th century Ireland was to progress from daughter, to wife, to mother. However, a woman could be labeled as spinster for a variety of reasons, including need for independence, a civic duty to the country during the Great Famine, intellectual disabilities, and most notably, the preventative and punitive use of Magdalen Asylums. Throughout this thesis, I will employ the theory of deconstruction to explore the marital binary between married and unmarried women. It is my hope that this thesis will connect Joyce’s stories and the societal construction of marriage to the 20th century causes for spinsterhood in Ireland. Keywords: James Joyce, Dubliners, spinsterhood

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: UNSPECIFIED
Depositing User: Katherine E. Smith
Date Deposited: 09 May 2016 11:56
Last Modified: 09 May 2016 11:56
URI: http://wagner.radford.edu/id/eprint/224

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