Binary Oppositions and the Meaning of Joyce’s Dubliners
James Joyce is known, by Robert Scholes, as the first structuralist. Each Dubliners story is a systematized combination of signs governed by rules that generate meaning within the context of Dublin. Saussure believes that meaning is generated through a system of structured differences in language. Differences in Dubliners appear in the form of binary oppositions from which Barthes believes meaning comes. What the structuralist Joyce does is fixing signifieds that appear in the form of binary oppositions in the structure of Dubliners. Self-negation and paralysis are the underlying themes as well as the main binary oppositions that crop up in the whole collection. Binary oppositions such as man vs. animal; silence vs. speech; liberation vs. promise and past vs. future that become fixed signifieds during the course of the action are also of crucial importance to unifying the whole collection. The interconnectedness of stories creates a system in which meaning is generated. This paper is an attempt to reveal the meanings generated in Dubliners through repeated binary oppositions.
Key words: James Joyce; Dubliners; Difference; Binary opposition; Passivity
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