Joseph Campbell was one of many theorists who have seen basic common denominators in the myths of the world’s great religions, Christianity among them, and have demonstrated how elements of myth have found their way into “non-religious” stories. Action heroes, in this respect, are not unlike saints. Biblical stories are, quite simply, the mythos of the Catholic religion, with saints being the heroes in such stories. The Star Wars film saga is, according to Campbell, an example of the hero’s maturation via the undertaking of a great quest. Though it is a safe assumption that many of today’s film makers are unconscious of the extent to which their narratives approach biblical parallels, Joyce spent his career turning seemingly simple stories into veiled recantings of biblical and mythical experience. “Araby” is a case-in-point. Like Luke Skywalker, the boy in “Araby” certainly reaches a maturation of sorts while undertaking a quest. Joyce takes accurate and mundane details of Dublin life and elevates them into a grand mythical pattern, targeting a moment of departure and awakening for the boy. Joyce’s function in equating mundane experience with heroic experience is to propose that the potential for epiphany–the hero’s realization of a certain truth–is not exclusive to saints alone, but exists in all people.
In order to so, Joyce must declare a relationship between the ordinary and the sublime. The ordinariness of the boy’s story is apparent. On one level, it is a simple story about the kind of unrequited “puppy love” that strikes most boys of his age. The details of the setting come from real Dublin–North Richmond Street and Westland Row Station–and depict …
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…t chooses to go to the temple, Orpheus chooses to go to Tartaros. Joyce made his own choice: to leave Ireland, and the result is a lifetime’s body of work that demonstrates great insight. It is a good guess that this insight came from a realization Joyce himself may have had–his own epiphany, if you will–illustrating the extent to which the pattern of journey and realization found their way into his life as well as his work.
Joyce, James. Dubliners. New York: Washington Square Press, 1998.
Schwarz, David R. Dubliners: Complete, Authoritative Text with Biographical and Historical Contexts, Critical History, and Essays from Five Contemporary Critical Perspectives. Ed. David R. Schwarz. Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press, 1994.
Werner, Craig Hansen. Dubliners: A Pluralistic World. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1988.
Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales – Enslavement and Freedom in the Knight’s Tale
Enslavement and Freedom in the Knight’s Tale
In the Knight’s Tale, Palamon and Arcite’s lives are filled with adversity and enslavement . Not only do they live in physical imprisonment, bound as prisoners of war in a tower, but they fall into Love’s imprisonment, which leads them to suffer the decrees of cruel classical gods . Cooper writes that there “can be no moral or metaphysical justice in the different fates that befall them; yet one dies wretchedly wounded, while the other lives out his life with Emily ‘with alle blisse’ ” (76). One might compare their destinies with that of Jacob and Esau: one is blessed, and the other cursed in order that the providence of God might stand . This essay will argue (1) that even though Palamon and Arcite are enslaved as prisoners of war, prisoners of love, and prisoners of Saturn’s decree, both knights are still responsible for their actions, and (2) that Arcite’s death brings unity and restores order in Athens.
Palamon and Arcite are introduced into the tale as the only two surviving knights in Creon’s army. Once found by the scavengers, they are brought before Theseus and he sends them to “dwellen in prisoun/Perpetuelly” (1023-4). It is through their physical imprisonment in the “chembre an heigh” (1065) that leads them to 6xsee Emily and to fall into Love’s imprisonment. But Love’s imprisonment works on Palamon and Arcite in different ways. Arcite “falls in love with her irresistibly, by natural necessity . . . [whereas for Palamon, the] love of Emelye is a matter of choice rather than nature, as is shown by his repeated demand that Arcite simply stop loving her (1142-43, 1593-95, 1731)” (Roney 62). But even though their view of love is different, they ar…
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Elbow, Peter. “How Chaucer Transcends Oppositions in the Knight’s Tale.” Chaucer Review. Vol. 7. No. 2. Ed. Robert Frank. Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University, 1972.
Finalyson, John. “The Knight’s Tale: The Dialogue Of Romance, Epic, And Philosophy.” Chaucer Review. Vol. 27. No. 2. Ed. Robert Frank. Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University, 1992.
Frost, William. “An Interpretation of Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale.” Chaucer Criticism. Vol. 1. Ed. Richard Schoeck. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1960.
Miller, Robert. Chaucer: Sources and Backgrounds. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977.
Roney, Lois. Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale and Theories of Scholastic Psychology. Tampa: University of South Florida Press, 1990.
Spearing, A.C. The Knight’s Tale. London: Cambridge University Press, 1966.