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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sexual Identity in Roberta Jackson's Critique of Joyce's "A Painful Case"

In Jackson’s critique of Joyce’s “A Painful Case,” she claims that just two articles treat the story as being about homosexuality, particularly Reid psychoanalytic study and Norris’s survey. (pg. 332) Ultimately, Jackson claims that in spite of Reid’s and Norris’s recognition, most critics have consistently disregarded the homophobic climate that existed in late- Victorian and Edwardian Britain following a number of sensational and well-publicized homosexual scandals in the late nineteenth century, which resulted in the passage of the Labouchere Amendment to the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885. (pg. 334) Jackson’s claim that the repression identified by the passing of laws that punish homosexuals serves as a paradoxical catalyst causing homosexuals to become aware of their identity, possibly for the firsts time. Jackson then claims that the effect of the revelation caused by the passing of homophobic laws forced the cautious, like Duffy, further into the closet. Also, Jackson’s claim that the amendment served as wedge, driving the newly self aware homosexuals further into the closet is supported throughout the text. I believe that Jackson’s recognition of the homophobic atmosphere in Dublin at the time serves to supplement Jackson’s observation that homosexuality was treated as a disease. Jackson reveals this when she claims that “Duffy’s loneliness is a disease that cannot be cured, but paradoxically both unites him with and separates him from others who are similarly affected. “(pg. 335) This makes sense because of the lack of interaction between Duffy and other homosexuals, and the feelings of loneliness that are the products of his self isolation and are brought about by the homophobic atmosphere of Victorian and Edwardian Britain. Ultimately, I agree with Jackson’s claim that the model of homosexuality as a disease contributed to the individualization of homosexuality which has an isolating effect, and that the homophobic atmosphere constituted by the passing of homophobic laws fostered the notion that sexuality represents identity.

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