Joyce and Shakespeare: A Brief Comparison
Dialogue and narration function differently in each literary genre. While the purposes of dialogue and narrative elements within a short story, a novel, or a play are similar, the ways in which they are manipulated as tools or vehicles for expression are not necessarily the same. This brief report will examine two very different literary works to illustrate these different effects and the ways in which such differences contribute to the production of meaning. The two works are James Joyce's short story, "Araby," and William Shakespeare's great drama, "King Lear."
The two passages selected for analysis both represent a dilemma of youth. In the case of Joyce's male protagonist in "Araby," the dilemma is the transition that takes place from boy to young manhood -- a transition that is deeply sexual, inherently romantic, and fraught with dangers to one's self-esteem. In the case of "King Lear," the dilemma is Cordelia's transition from dependent daughter loving her father more than any other being to independent woman, charged with loving her husband "first" after she is married. In both instances, the transition is one that requires the individual to develop new understandings of the self and the self-in-the-world, particularly with relation to others.
Cordelia speaks in response to her father's irrational demand that each of his three daughters, in order to obtain a third share of his kingdom, outdo one another in protestations of their love for him. Cordelia, in the passage selected herein, responds to her father's request that she "mend your speech a little, Lest it may mar your fortune (Shakespeare, 1931, p. 846)." Her response begins and ends as follows:
You have begot me, bred me, loved me: I
Return these duties back to you as are right fit,
Obey you, love you, and most honor you.
Why have my sister's husbands, if they say
They love you all? Haply, whe...