Essay Preview: Dubliners
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Religion was an integral part of Ireland during the modernist period, tightly woven into the social fabric of its citizens. The Catholic Church was a longstanding tradition of Ireland. In the modernist spirit of breaking away from forces that inhibited growth, the church stood as one of the principal barriers. This is because the Catholic faith acted as the governing force of its people, as portrayed in James JoyceÐ²Ð‚™s Dubliners. In a period when Ireland was trying to legitimize their political system, religious affiliations further disillusioned the political process. The governing body of a people needs to provide a behavioral framework, through its constitution, and a legal process to make delegations on issues of equity and fairness. When religion dominates the government that is in tact, it subjects its citizens to their religious doctrines. In terms of Catholicism in Ireland, this meant that social progress and cultural revolutions were in terms of what the church would allow. The modernist realized that this is what paralyzed the Irish society of the times. In the stories of Dubliners the legal system is replaced by the institute of religion, and it is the presence and social context of the Catholic Church which prevents the Irish community from advancement.
In the case of most countries there are many parallels between the governing law and the predominant religion. This is mainly due to the fact that both adhere to a certain agreed ideas of how people should act. The majority of any given population makes decisions on a daily basis using both law and religion to guide their actions. However, when matters of fairness and equity are questioned the government must make an adhered to ruling. In the story Ð²Ð‚ÑšThe Boarding HouseÐ²Ð‚Ñœ, Joyce presents us with an image of Ireland where religion is the governing force in determining equitable situations. This is clearly apparent when Mrs. Mooney experiences trouble with her marriage and seeks a separation. This situation is described as, Ð²Ð‚ÑšShe went to the priest and got a separation from him with care of the childrenÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (72). For most societies a situation like this would fall under the category of civil law, and be decided in a court of law. The fact that Mrs. Mooney went to the priest to solve a domestic dispute, and not to an attorney shows that the citizens of Ireland regarded the church as the head figure of Ireland. Anytime that the ruling authority of a country is anything other than its own constitution, the only outcome is a constricted and less prosperous society. This is evident in emerging countries where two or more political parties fighting for control of the people. When a religion is the head of state for a country, the actions of its people are subjected to moral and ethical beliefs. This is unfair in concept, due to the fact not all citizens of a given country are practitioners or the religion in question, ignoring for the moment the constitution of the state of Israel.
On the topic of marriage itself it is important to realize that in most countries there are two parts to a marriage. The first part being the religious obligations between two people, and the rules and spiritual reactions of a given faith that come with it. The second being the legitimization of a family unit at some government level. It is a reasonable assumption that Mrs. Mooney, being a woman of faith, would go to her priest in order to make judgment on the health of her marriage, and administer a course of action that would convey to her the greatest benefit in terms of her religious obligations. When religious authority leaves the spiritual realm, and mandates decisions in the material world, it has then taken the role of a governing force. When the priest makes the administrative decision to give the children to Mrs. Mooney implies that there must be some set of laws that he operated under in order to render his decision, thus making him a governing force and subjecting others to a law regardless of faith.
In the same story, Ð²Ð‚ÑšThe Boarding HouseÐ²Ð‚Ñœ, a priest takes the role of another important figure in the legal system, the police. When Mr. Doran goes to confession he mentions that, Ð²Ð‚Ñšthe priest had drawn out every ridiculous detail of the affair and in the end had so magnified his sin that he was almost thankful at being afforded a loophole of reparationÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (76). This whole scene resembles a prosecutor trying to talk the defendant into a plea agreement, and is another example of the influence of the church on population of Ireland. Mr. Doran did not go down to the station to confess, he went to the church. His actions may of may not have broken any explicit laws of government, but given that they did break his own religionÐ²Ð‚™s laws it may be reasonable that he go to the church to seek spiritual guidance. However, if the priest guides Mr. Doran towards reparations that exceed both his legal obligations and the nonphysical realm, then the priest has again confused his robe with the attire of a judge and somewhere along the way picked up a wooden mallet and a wig.
The religious influence and itÐ²Ð‚™s affect on the decision making of