The Use Of Hell In James Joyce's Hell

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“Hell is a...foulsmelling prison,” James Joyce asserts in his essay Hell, “an abode of demons and lost souls, filled with fire and smoke” (295). In addition to both supporting these claims and constructing an engaging narrative, Joyce places himself in the piece as the narrator, guiding the audience through this hellscape. However, Joyce’s authoritative position alone cannot effectively illustrate the scene. As a result, Joyce relies on literary tools to elicit the intended impression of hell, immersing the reader in this environment. By employing an organized structure and a combination of different modes of description, diction and syntax, Joyce cultivates a compelling portrayal of hell that in return, evokes a visceral reaction from the reader.
Through the essay’s logical organization, Joyce creates a cogent narrative that the audience can easily follow. Beginning with a definition of hell, Joyce lays out the foundations of the hellscape, adding its origins being, “[designed] by God to punish those who refused to be bound by His laws” (295). Furthermore, Joyce elaborates on the purpose of hell by inserting a comparison, which assists the reader in setting up the scene. While, “in earthly prisons the poor captive as at least some liberty of movement...within the four walls of his cell or in the gloomy yard of his prison,” in hell, “the prisoners are heaped together...utterly bound and helpless” (295). Moreover, Joyce builds on the established foundation by detailing how
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