The ensuance of existentiality: A study of fire imagery in James Joyce's Finnegans wakeShow full item record
|The ensuance of existentiality: A study of fire imagery in James Joyce's Finnegans wake
|Potvin, Janet Holm
|Doctor of Philosophy
|James Joyce's Finnegans Wake combines myth, symbol, and poetic image within an atmosphere of dream to portray a view of man, the cosmos, and human history. As in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Exiles, and Ulysses, Joyce focuses in Finnegans Wake on the nature of the artistic consciousness and the role of the artist in society as a means of dealing with the nature of the human condition and the meaning of being. Joyce's vision of the cosmos is a poetic one and in Finnegans Wake he creates a world that is at once cyclical and poetic in the Heraclitean manner. The significance of the poetic vision, of language as a means of defining life and the artistic consciousness, is evident in Joyce's description of the interrelated pattern of life and vision in Finnegans Wakes "In the ignorance that implies impression that knits knowledge that finds the nameform that whets the wits that convey contacts that sweeten sensation that drives desire that adheres to attachment that dogs death that bitches birth that entails the ensuance of existentiality" (18.24-8). Because Joyce's vision of the cosmos is a poetic one, the traditional elements of the poetic imagination, earth, air, fire, and water, become particularly important in Finnegans Wake. Of the four elements, fire, associated with the east and with the source of life, is especially significant. For Joyce, fire is both an element and a symbol and as such it becomes the controlling image of Finnegans Wake. It is the purpose of the present study to delineate the uses of fire imagery in Finnegans Wake and to show how Joyce uses fire imagery to convey his cosmic vision. Fire--as element and symbol--plays a predominant role in the cosmos of Finnegans Wake because it is a natural symbol of life and vitality and because it is also a symbol of the basic paradox inherent in the universe. Joyce's use of fire resembles that of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus who viewed the universe in terms of a cosmology of fire. Fire is important on four major metaphoric levels not only in Heraclitean thought but also in Finnegans Wake, the physical level, the psychical, the metaphysical, and the ethical or mythico-religious. As is the case in Heraclitean thought where fire as a cosmic metaphor represents both flux and the hidden harmony underlying flux, fire in the Wake represents the cosmos and the logos, flux and hidden harmony. In addition, fire represents the basic human community with communality and divisiveness; the artist's search for unity of being, an Apollonian/ Dionysian conflict; and unity itself, a dynamic tension of opposites. With its numerous levels of interpretation, its related levels of poetic imagery which relay the sound and sense of life, and its inherent paradox, fire is an effective symbol of both contrariety and unity. For Joyce, fire is not only a metaphor of explanation, but also the synthesizing element of the poetic imagination, the human community, and the cosmos.
|Copeland, Tom W.
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- Doctoral Dissertations