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Motherly Control in Dubliners Essay


In both The Boarding House and A mother, the mothers try to achieve a better life for their daughters. In The Boarding House, Mrs. Mooney succeeds in achieving her goal of marrying Polly to Doran; Whereas, in A Mother Mrs. Kearney destroys her daughters potential career as a pianist in Dublin.

Control is their only mean for achieving their goals. Mrs. Mooney watches closely her daughters moves all the time without reacting Polly knew that she was being watched, but still her mothers persistent silence could not be misunderstood. (Dubliners 68) unless an imperative issue appears At last when she judges it to be the right moment, Mrs. Mooney intervened (Dubliners 68). Mrs. Mooneys control can be determined by her thunderous silence. She keeps quiet while planning her daughters future without consulting her. Moving her daughter from the office and putting her to work at the boarding house is one example for her taking over. Moreover, the moment she knew about the affair of Polly with Doran she gives her daughter space by letting her continue the affair with Doran without interfering much she watched the pair and kept her own counsel. (Dubliners 68) But the moment everybody starts talking about this relationship she takes action and sees it as a chance to achieve her goal and implement her plan of marrying her daughter to Doran conveying herself that it is for the sake of her daughters honor for her only one reparation could make up for the loss of her daughters honor (Dubliners 70).

Mrs. Kearneys endeavor is doomed to fail. She exercises a large amount of control over her daughters life .Control in her case is based on her own management of Kathleens career such as signing alone the contract with Mr. Holohan, and making her own decisions without seeking for her daughters opinion she wont go without her money (Dubliners 164). Linda Paige argues in her article Mrs. Kearney appears to be Kathleens advocate. Mrs. Kearney takes over her daughters life without giving her chance to try managing her own life, furthermore, she commands her daughter not to continue her performance until she is paid the whole salary. Paige also claims one slip of this mothers tongue inadvertently reveals that Mrs. Kearneys concern is for herself, not for Kathleen: Im asking for my rights (Dubliners 148). It is a clear statement showing the main reason of Mrs. Kearneys failure in achieving her goal, i.e., the focus that is on herself and the fulfillment of her own dreams, and not a real concern with her daughters welfare.

Both Mrs. Mooney and Mrs. Kearney are at heart controllers. Mrs. Mooney runs the boarding house and aspires for attaining a wealthy husband for her daughter; she dominates her daughters life in her own method while keeping in mind her daughters sake and eventually achieves her goal; Whereas, Mrs. Kearney takes over as much of the management of Mr. Holohans project as she can while controlling Kathleens life when her concern is for herself and not for KathleenIm asking for my rights (Dubliners148) and consequently she destroys her daughters career as a pianist, doesnt get her daughters full salary and goes home defeated.

In both stories, the mothers play a central role in their daughters lives by influencing and controlling. Their Aspiration is for a common goal, a better life for their daughters, one in the family area and the other in the business field. The goal is achieved in Mrs. Mooneys case; she succeeds in marrying Polly to Doran due to her planning and her conscious decision about when to intervene in the affair between her daughter and her boarder. Moreover, the only thing that matters to Mrs. Mooney is to see that her daughter was well settled. Mrs. Kearney destroys her daughters career in view of the fact that she is more interested in her own interests than in her daughters. It is interesting to see that on the one hand the control of Mrs. Mooney in her daughter's life results in a positive consequence according to the mothers point of view; that is to have a wealthy husband so no worries for the daughter's future. On the other hand, the control of Mrs. Kearney over her daughter Kathleen ruins her daughters music career and future life.

Joyce has given us two characters that seek to secure the future of their daughters. In the "Boarding house", Mrs. Mooney achieves her goal for her daughter, while in "A Mother" Mrs. Kearneys struggle to improve her daughters life is seen to fail.

Works Cited

Joyce, James. Dubliners. London: Penguin, 1996.

Paige, Linda. James Joyce's Darkly Colored Portraits of Mother in Dubliners.

Studies in Short Fiction 32 (1995): 329-40.

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