This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

James Joyce's &Quot;The Dead&Quot; Essay

1339 words - 5 pages

James Joyce's short story "The Dead" deals with the meaning of life. This title is significant and enhances several aspects of the story. First of all, it reveals that the characters are unable to be emotional. They are physically living but emotionally dead. Second of all, it contributes to the main subject of the story, Gabriel's epiphany. The title contributes to these aspects of the story by adding meaning and acting as a reminder of the overall theme of the story.

The title, "The Dead", reveals the difference between how the people appear to be and who they really are. All the people at the party appear lively, but inside, these people are dead. Dead in this context implies that they are emotionally dead, but also that they are unable to change. Apart from Gabriel, everyone is unable to change. This is because they have adapted to their lifestyles and set themselves in a pattern that does not allow them to change. The characters especially do not interact with each other as human beings, they are each too involved in themselves. In the coatroom, Lily says to Gabriel that men are "only all palaver and what they can get out of you" (Joyce 857). This statement would have resulted in some type of reaction from Gabriel. Instead, Gabriel ignores it, follows the ritual and gives Lily a coin. Another sign of the ritual is Mary Jane playing the piano, something she does every year. Gabriel "doubted whether it had any melody for the other listeners" (Joyce 861). Despite this apparent lack of talent, Mary Jane continues to play every year and nobody informs her that her piano playing is not very good. These are both examples of something common to all the characters. They are all emotionally unavailable and simply observe each other unwilling to really know each other. This is one of the major reasons they can be described as `dead.' Each person acts only according to the ritual and this emotional unavailability does not allow them to change because obviously once dead, a person can not change.

Another example where the characters are dead occurs where they talk about an order of monks who sleep in their coffins. These monks actually act as a metaphor for the characters. While discussing why the monks do this, the reason is given that "it was the rule; that was all" (Joyce 871). This statement shows the ability to accept something because it is a rule without even understanding the real purpose and parallels the acceptance of social rituals by the characters. They each act the way they do because it is "the rule." The characters also call the monks "very good men" (Joyce 871). This represents that the characters see the blind acceptance of these social rituals as a good thing. This metaphor illustrates the characters as empty and meaningless. It is also noted that the monks do not speak to each other. This is also true about the characters. They do not really interact with each other out of this ritual. The only difference...

Find Another Essay On James Joyce's "The Dead"

Vitality and Death in James Joyce's The Dead

2257 words - 9 pages Vitality and Death in The Dead         In his short story The Dead, James Joyce creates a strong contrast between Gabriel, who is emotionally lifeless, and the other guests, who are physically aging and near death. Though physical mortality is inevitable, Joyce shows that emotional sterility is not, and Gabriel ultimately realizes this and decides that he must follow his passions. Throughout the story, a strong focus on death and

James Joyce's The Dead - Gabriel's Search for Self

3611 words - 14 pages Gabriel's Search for Self in The Dead     The study of Gabriel's character is probably one of the most important aims in James Joyce's The Dead1. What shall we think of him? Is the reader supposed to think little of Gabriel or should he/she even feel sorry for him? This insecurity already implies that the reader gets more and more aware that he/she develops ambivalent feeling towards Gabriel and that his character is presented from various

The Varying Faces of Death The meaning of James Joyce's short story The Dead

861 words - 3 pages The Varying Faces of DeathJames Joyce's "The Dead" exhibits the capacity of another's death to dishearten one in his future relations and experiences. This short story also gives voice to the emotions of a husband. This husband's wife's romantic tie to a man who died years ago, forces him to realize that there is a chapter of his wife's life in which he plays no part. In the story this man not only comes to grips with such a realization, but

Modernism and Existential Loneliness Demonstrated in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and James Joyce's The Dead

847 words - 3 pages Two authors who demonstrate modernism in its rawest form are Joseph Conrad and James Joyce. Both Conrad and Joyce incorporate one of the key characteristics of modernism throughout their works, Conrad in Heart of Darkness and Joyce in The Dead. The key characteristic that each writer targets in on is existential loneliness. It is a predominant theme throughout both of their works. A working definition of existential loneliness as illustrated

Modernism Defined in T.S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and James Joyce's The Dead

1522 words - 6 pages Modernism is by no means easy to define. In fact, no one is exactly sure if the movement has even ended yet. But that’s befitting of the period, as well as the pieces of literature that serve to define Modernism. Two pieces, T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and James Joyce’s “The Dead”, are epitomes of this modernism. In both, the main characters are paralyzed by an inability to communicate, even while speaking. Whether through

"the Secret Life of Walter Mitty" by James Thurber

761 words - 3 pages "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" is a story about a man who prefers to live in his fantasies rather than dealing with real life. The story begins when a military officer shouts an order for his crew to proceed with a flight in spite of the dangerous conditions. The unyielding commander speaks with confidence and courage, and his crew expresses their faith in him by saying, "The Old Man'll get us through, the Old Man ain't afraid of Hell!" (NA

Georg Lukacs, "the Ideology of Modernism"

9742 words - 39 pages The Hungarian Marxist literary critic Georg Lukacs (pronounced GAY-org LOU-cotch) was one of the premier theorists of socialist realism, the only acceptable style of literature in the Soviet Union. In order to champion realism, and specifically an ideologically charged realism, as the only good way to write, Lukacs had to set himself in opposition to the literary movement that had superseded realism in the West, modernism (writers like James

James Joyce's The Dubliners

507 words - 2 pages "Epiphany" refers to a showing-forth, a manifestation. For Joyce, however, it means a sudden revelation of the ¡°whatness of a thing¡±. Joyce's tales about Dublin portray impotence, frustration and death. Their meaning is provided not so much by plot but by the epiphanies. Aiming either to illustrate an instant of self-realization in the characters themselves, or to raise the trivial existence of his characters to a level of conscious

Representation of the Uncanny in "the Haunting of Hill House"

2154 words - 9 pages threatening. (Rubenstein 317) In the story, Eleanor suffers from the infantile complexes that in her individualization, she fears of separating from her mother but at the same time, she also fears the danger of herself being lost if she is too close to her mother. In the beginning, Eleanor succeeds in escaping from her dead mother by participating in the experiment conducted by Dr. Montague and moves to the Hill House, so she is attempting to

To What Extent Does Religion Affect the Characters in "Measure for Measure?"

2468 words - 10 pages At the time that Measure for Measure was written, England was a Protestant country, meaning that the monarch at the time, James I was the head of the Church of England. However, the England that Shakespeare was brought up in was still living with the remnants of a Catholic history, and so the religious beliefs that he would have learnt about as a child would have been those of the Catholic faith. Although Shakespeare was writing the play for a

James Joyce "The Dead"

5257 words - 21 pages Thesis: In James Joyce's pluralistic short story, "The Dead", Gabriel Conroy is dragged westward by the same nets as Stephen Deadalus (those of family, religion and politics), and at the end of the story he is not reborn but rather accepts the transition to the world of shadows.Joyce thought the present as the only legitimate frame of mind. The stream of consciousness writing style is the vehicle he invented to convey the importance of the

Similar Essays

James Joyce's The Dead Essay

3145 words - 13 pages James Joyce's The Dead In The Dead, James Joyce lets symbolism flow freely throughout his short story. James Joyce utilizes his main characters and objects in The Dead to impress upon his readers his view of Dublin’s crippled condition. Not only does this apply to just The Dead, Joyce’s symbolic themes also exude from his fourteen other short stories that make up the rest of Joyce’s book, Dubliners, to describe his hometown’s other issues

A Feminist Study Of &Quot;The Dead&Quot;

1141 words - 5 pages As the last story of James Joyce's short story collection, The Dubliners, "The Dead" is about a young Dubliner's one day of attending his aunts' party and his emotional changes after the party ends. In the paralyzed city the young man feels the atmosphere of death everywhere. And he often has misunderstandings with people, especially women including his wife. From the main character Gabriel's experience, we can see his personal life is in a

Reader Response To James Joyce's The Dead

1138 words - 5 pages Reader Response to Joyce's The Dead     James Joyce's story "The Dead" has a tremendous impact on the readers, especially those who are familiar with the political situation in Ireland at the time about which the Joyce wrote the final story in Dubliners.  In exploring the meaning of James Joyce's long short-story, "The Dead", there are many critical approaches to take.  Each approach gives readers a lens, a set of

Barren Lives In James Joyce's The Dead

808 words - 3 pages The Barren Lives of The Dead       "One day he caught a fish, a beautiful big big fish, and the man in the hotel boiled it for their dinner" (p.191). Little did Mrs. Malins know that those words issued from her feeble old lips so poignantly described the insensibility of the characters in James Joyce's The Dead toward their barren lives. The people portrayed in this novelette represented a wealthy Irish class in