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“Gabriel Conroy’s ‘Generous Tears’” Essay

1820 words - 8 pages

As the snow came falling upon Dublin, it was almost as if the city and its inhabitants would remain frozen together. Dublin and every thing it stood for would linger, as her citizens’ lives would continue forward, never truly able to escape the city’s grip. One man in particular, dishearteningly sat gazing out the window upon the dreary frosted world. Gabriel Conroy’s elaborate and sophisticated life, as he saw it, seemed to have come loose from his control. The world as he imaginably created began to disintegrate, leaving with him generous tears falling from his eyes. James Joyce, the author of the trifling epics of Dublin’s ordinary populaces found in Dubliners, places prodigious ...view middle of the document...

Gabriel and his wife Gretta were arriving to the Morkan residence tardy the evening of the annual get-together. The first of the many characters introduced in the novella, Lily had been struggling with the errands given to her by the aunts as they anticipated the arrival of their favorite nephew, Gabriel. After Gretta and Gabriel arrive and are welcomed by the aunts, Gretta leaves Gabriel to follow the two up to the ladies’ dressing room, leaving Gabriel alone with Lily downstairs as he scraped the snow off his galoshes.
Lily, attempting to be kind and welcoming, creates small talk with Gabriel enquiring about the weather outside. From this point, the audience digresses into Gabriel’s thoughts in which it is learned that he is not quite the most genuine person. “Gabriel smiled at the three syllables she had given his surname.” (197) The first reactions from Gabriel are quite belittling, as if Gabriel were ridiculing the young housemaid for her lack of education. Still not having answered her, Gabriel proceeds to analyze Lily almost as if she were a painting, “…Slim, growing girl, pale in complexion, and with hay–colored hair.” (197) This debasing analytical behavior becomes routine for Gabriel throughout the social scene. However, it is the ensuing part of the conversation between Lily and Gabriel that truly demonstrate Gabriel’s lackluster social skill.
It is common knowledge that the daughter of a caretaker who remains as a young housemaid for a wealthier family would not have the certain freedom of a normal girl her age. More than likely she comes from a lower class family, her education would be limited as her family would depend on her to work, and the long daunting hours would leave her social life to be nonexistent. After Gabriel had finally answered Lily’s question regarding the conditions of the weather outside, he begins to ask Lily a few questions of his own. The first, regarding her attendance at school, comes across just fine to Lily as she responds she had finished with school. Then, arrogantly assuming Lily has a love interest, Gabriel jokes that they would all would be going to her wedding soon. This causes a bitter reaction from Lily as she immediately shoots back at Gabriel describing men in a negative way. Fretted, Gabriel couldn’t even look at her as he knew he had lost control over the environment in which he was in. Instead of apologizing to Lily, he essentially heaves money at her in the attempt to make himself feel as though he was still a good person and retreats upstairs to exist the scene. Conversely, this only further insults Lily as by this motion, he is comparing her to a lesser position of labor than a housemaid.
Even though the interaction between Lily and Gabriel was quite short, it was dense with character traits of Gabriel. The audience learns that when Gabriel is not comfortably in control of his environment, he begins to fall apart and looks for the quickest exit of the scene. ...

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