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The Boarding House Mr Doran English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 891 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Mrs. Mooney portrayed as an intrigue female character utilizing the innocence of her daughter Polly to trap Mr. Doran into a marriage that he is powerless to reject. The setting took place during an age of poverty and stagnation where power rested in the hand of a Protestant Minority. The real power of the “The Boarding House” is Joyce’s depiction of the strong and weak character in Mrs. Mooney and Bob Doran who work together in this distinctive place call the boarding house. Joyce main focus is the member of the lower and middle class, and how their society at that time adversely affected their attitudes.

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At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Dublin had been the second city of the British Isles and one of the ten largest cities in Europe. Charming architecture, an elegant layout, and a bustling port made for a dynamic and agreeable urban life. But later in the century, Belfast which had outstripped Dublin as the great city and the capital of Ireland, and the economy was in shambles. Formerly fashionable Georgian townhouses became horrible slums, with inadequate sewage and cramped living conditions. Dublin’s city was in decline, and chances for advancement were slim for the lower and middle classes.

In James Joyce’s short story “The Boarding house” occurs in a boarding house which owned by Mrs. Mooney, a determined woman who’s narrated by Joyce as “a woman who deals with moral problems as a cleaver deals with meat” (paragraph 5). When reading further in the story, we found that the boarding house is a trap, where Mrs. Mooney is a hunter who’s looking for a decent husband for her daughter Polly within her guests. She is using Polly as bait to catch Mr. Doran, the victim in the story. Mrs. Mooney manipulates Mr. Doran into her trap by using her daughter’s innocence as the bait and Mr. Doran’s innocence as a victim. Mrs. Mooney is a woman of business and Mr. Doran is the perfect victim for her and for Polly. Mr. Doran described as a “serious young man, not rakish or loud voice like the others” (paragraph 9). Mr. Doran has also a decent job and he fits perfectly to the economical needs of Mrs. Mooney. Mrs. Mooney also uses their society and religion as a tool to cause Mr. Doran marrying her daughter. She knows that her victim is a religious man, who lives in the religious culture of Dublin that obeys to the rules of the church. Mrs. Mooney uses her boarding house as a crime scene, and by causing Mr. Doran to sleep with her daughter, she causes him to commit a religious sin and to fall into the trap of guiltiness of a crime which the only compensation for, by the concepts of this society, is marriage.

Bob Doran is definitely not in control of what is happening to him. The reason behind his lack of control is because he has allowed himself to become weak. His weakness is shown very vividly in many areas of the story. One example of his weakness is showed when Joyce states, “but sin was there; even his sense of honor told him that reparation must be made for such sin” (paragraph 17). Obviously, he has allowed the social pressures to weaken him into thinking that he needed to make up for his sin. Due to his weakness, Bob Doran is at the mercy of Mrs. Mooney and Polly. A great example of him being at the mercy of Mrs. Mooney and his employers is shown when Joyce says, “the implacable faces of his employer and of the Madam stared upon his discomfiture” (paragraph 19). The unpleasant thing is Bob Doran apparently at their mercy simply because he has allowed himself to become so weak.

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One of Bob Doran’s biggest problems is his fear of not fitting in. The weakness of Bob Doran character is shown through Joyce’s choice of symbolism with his fogging eyeglass. As Joyce tells the reader in the story, “every two or three minutes a mist gather on his eyeglasses so that he had to take them off and polished with is pocket-handkerchief” (paragraph 11). The eyeglass is mentioned once more later in the story when Joyce writes, “going down the stairs his glasses become so dimmed with moisture that he has to take them off and polish them” (paragraph 18). This symbol of Bob Doran’s fogging eyeglasses gives the reader the impression that Bob Doran is in fear, and he is trying very hard to fit in. when a person is in fear, or is trying hard to do something, their breath becomes hard and heavy. This heavy breathing due to his fear could very well be what is fogging up his eyeglasses. “The Boarding House” is a reflection of the face of the society in Dublin at that time. And the main three characters are three people who trapped in a society where surviving is very difficult, especially for women, and therefore a person who is cunning like Mrs. Mooney can take care of herself and her daughter. The character of Bob Doran in the “The Boarding House” symbolizes the weakness of people to the beliefs of society, which are oppressed and conform by the Catholic Church. These three character represent the social welfare of this society, where there are exploiters, like Mrs. Mooney, Polly the innocent bystander, and the victim, which represented by Mr. Doran.


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