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Epiphanies Through Joyce and Chaucer

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 01:01 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 58.5 
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James Joyce’s Dubliners is a compilation of stories that all rely on character epiphanies in order to develop each story. These epiphanies change the tone of each story because each yields a negative change or reaction. In both “Araby” and “The Dead”, the characters realize or learn something about the world around them, which makes them second guess either themselves or the reason behind their actions. Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales contains at least one tale that relies on an epiphany to help develop theme but it doesn’t change the tone or course of the story; it just helps to portray the true meaning of the character. The Pardoner becomes a deeper character because of his epiphany, which is what makes it important to the rest of the work. The main difference between Canterbury Tales and Joyce’s Dubliners is the change each epiphany brings to the story.

The Pardoner experiences an epiphany brought upon by the immorality of the tale he tells. This tale was told to the other travelers only because they wanted “some moral thing, so that they can learn something worthwhile”(pg 507, ll. 8-9). The Pardoner’s tale is of three men who kill each other over bushels of gold, which follows his theme to his preachings: the love of money is the root of all evil. Before he even started his tale, he explained to the travelers that he used fake relics and pardons to manipulate the poor and the sinners to freely give him their money. When he finishes his tale explains that “Jesus Christ, who is physician of our souls grant that you receive his pardon, for that is best; I will not deceive you.”(pg 539, ll 454-456). It is at this moment that the Pardoner realizes that he has greatly sinned, yet he hides his emotions by offering the travelers his relics in order to relieve them of any sins. This is because, although he seemed effeminate in the eyes of the host, he didn’t want the other travelers to consider him emotionally weak or to think he was affected by his own...

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