Painful Case Essay

1750 words - 7 pages

James Joyce
was an Irish novelist and poet. He is one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century.
He was born in Dublin in 1882. He entered the university college, Dublin in 1898. In 1900 he began writing lyric poems. After graduation in 1902, the twenty year old Joyce went to Paris where he worked as a journalist, teacher and in other occupations under difficult financial conditions. Most of his adult life was spent abroad. Joyce died in Zürich in 1941
His last words were: "Does nobody understand?"

His most important works are: Dubliners (1914), a portrait of the artist as a young man (1916), a play Exiles ...view middle of the document...

However, hidden in the lines of the text, there lies a tragic love story. In the text, the death of Mrs. Sinico, a married woman that was briefly involved with Mr. Duffy at one point in time, is titled ‘A Painful Case’. However, the title of the story does not refer to her death, but rather to the killing of love, desire and passion; three elements that award us happiness and fulfillment in life. ‘A painful Case’ is yet another suppression of the finer elements that enrich our life.

To summarize, a solitary bank cashier named James Duffy lives in a house in Chapelizod, a suburb of Dublin. Later, he becomes acquainted with a woman named Mrs. Sinico at a Dublin concert. They meet regularly to discuss art and ideas, first at her house (with the full knowledge of her husband, Captain Sinico), and then at her cottage outside the city, where they grow close both intellectually and emotionally. When Mrs. Sinico reaches for Duffy's hand, however, he insists that they stop seeing one another. Four years later, Duffy reads in the newspaper about Mrs. Sinico's death, apparently by suicide. At first he feels revolted, ashamed that he ever considered her a peer.
Then Duffy begins to feel guilty: Did his rejection of her result in Mrs. Sinico's suicide? Finally he identifies and empathizes with Mrs. Sinico, realizing that her aloneness mirrored his own and that he is now more alone than ever.


The story is written in the past tense, and from the third person point of view.

The setting is essential to the characterization of the characters. Here, in a painful case this refers to two different places: first, Chapelizod , a suburb about Three miles west of Dublin, which mainly housed lower middle class families at the time Dubliners was written, and secondly, the city of Dublin, in which Duffy works as a bank cashier and later encounters Emily.

The main characters that lived this comedy of deception are:
Mr. Duffy: a Middle-aged man, solitary: he has no friends and sees his family only at Christmas and funerals, obsessive man who eschews intimacy with Mrs. Sinico. Disdainful of excess and tightly self-regulated, Mr. Duffy lives according to mundane routine, and when a relationship evolves beyond his comfort level, he squelches it. His remorse over Mrs. Sinico’s death makes him realize that his pursuit of order and control has led only to loneliness. He is one of the most tragic protagonists of Dubliners.

Mrs. Sinico: Mr. Duffy’s companion in “A Painful Case.” She becomes an alcoholic and dies when she is hit by a train, after being shunned by him.
She once grasped Mr. Duffy’s hand and held it to her cheek, and this small, affectionate gesture led to the end of their relationship.

The comedy of deception begins that evening in the rotunda. Mr. Duffy is at a thinly attended concert when the woman next to him makes a casual comment about the unfortunately small audience. She has an intelligent, attractive face, with eyes...

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