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Copy of Dubliners - The Boarding House
Transcript of Copy of Dubliners - The Boarding House
The Boarding House
By Grace Hwang and Ryan Hubner
Hierarchy of the Classes
Microcosm of Dublin
Marriage is a prominent theme and a significant symbol in "The Boarding House". It is used to better identify characters with eachother, showcase "The Madam's" personality, and create a metaphorical bridge between the classes.
"Once you are married you are done for, it said" pg. 61
Another significant symbol is the allusion to the different social classes in the story. Joyce does this to exploit the reality of the different classes of Dubliners and how they interact.
For example: the struggles and conflicts Mr. Doran has to overcome when deciding whether to get married or not, which would affect the social classes he would be accepted by (upper class or lower class).
In the story, the actual boarding house is represented as a microcosm of Dublin. This is due to the mix of the different classes of people and personalities under one roof, relationships being gauged and watched, class lines being constantly negotiated, and social standing taking priority over emotions, such as love.
"Her house had a floating population made up of tourists from Liverpool and the Isle of Man and, occasionally artistes from the music halls." (pg. 56)
If you were in Mr. Doran's position, would you choose love or higher social standing? From the evidence in the story, what do you think he will choose?
Mrs. Mooney is an interesting character in the story The Boarding House. She deliberately seeks to be in a higher social class with the help of her children and the men living in the Boarding House.
Do you believe that Mrs. Mooney is a good mother? Explain your answer with details from the story.
Staircase is a significant symbol in this particular story; it symbolizes the changes in hierarchical social classes for different characters.
For example, on pg. 62, "They used to go upstairs together on tiptoe, each with a candle, and on the third landing exchange reluctant good-nights. They used to kiss"
In Polly's perspective, being with a fine man like Mr. Doran was like being on a higher level of social class, or in this case, the top of the staircase.
Another example: "Going down the stairs his glasses became so dimmed with moisture... He longed to ascend through the roof and fly away to another country... and yet a force pushed him downstairs step by step" (pg. 63).
Now in Mr. Doran's case, with the affair with a lower class woman, Polly, he seems to be moving downwards in the social class as he gets closer and closer to finally making the decision to marry Polly.
Polly is a prostitute in The Boarding House because she has an affair with Mr. Doran so that she could have the possibility of getting married to him and be in a higher social class.
This symbolizes the dysfuntional relationships in Dublin.
These could be relationships between families (as seen with Mr. Mooney and her surreptitious use of her daughter to get into a higher class) and even between couples who don't really seek for love as much as personal benefits such as recognition from higher social classes.
Thank you for your participation! :)
After a separation from the husband, Mrs. Mooney opens a Boarding House
Mrs. Mooney has a son named Jack and a daughter named Polly who live with her
Clerks from the city, some tourists and musicians live in the boarding house
Polly develps a relationship with Mr. Doran, one of the men living in the boarding house
Mrs. Mooney knows about the affair between Polly and Mr. Doran but don't take action for some time
First, Mrs. Mooney speaks with Polly about this awkwardly
Then Mrs. Mooney ask to speak with Mr. Doran on a Sunday morning
Mrs. Mooney is sure to "win" by getting Mr. Doran to propose to her daughter
Mrs. Mooney believes that because Mr. Doran wouldn't want to lose his job as a wine merchant and the respect that he had gained
Polly comes into Mr. Doran's room for comfort before he leaves to speak with her mother
After he leaves though, she doesn't seem to be as worried as she was in front of Mr. Doran but rather thinks of the possible future with him
Finally, Mrs. Mooney calls upon Polly becaus Mr. Doran apparently wants to speak to her