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

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 perspectives. Gabriel's conduct appears to be split and seems to represent different red threads in The Dead; it leads the reader through the whole story. Those different aspects in his conduct, and also the way this multicoloured character is presented to the reader, strongly points at the assumption that he is wearing a kind of mask throughout the course of events. But at the very end, after the confession of his beloved wife, Gabriel's life is radically changed and, most importantly, his masks fall.


The scene with Lily (p.2009) in the very beginning of the story shows us already quite a lot about Gabriel: He appears good-humoured, talkative and behaves very kind to her. In this situation we find one of his many character traits: Gabriel is presented to us as a quite talkative, decent and cheerful 'small talk partner'. This aspect of his character, that accompanies us on many pages, is quite strong. Some scenes, three of them are mentioned here, can be uncovered as good examples of his kind way to spread a cheerful atmosphere: "He felt quite at ease now for he was an expert carver and liked nothing better than to find himself at the head of  a well-laden table." (p.2020) This description of his attitude at the dinner table shows us very good that Gabriel is able to entertain people if necessary and to appear self-confidently and independently. Another even more obvious example is his well prepared speech about hospitality and friends after dinner which is rewarded with "a burst into applause and laughter..." (p.2025). The way the people in his social millieu like to listen to him, how he puts them at ease, how they reward his eloquence with smiles and applause, and also the smart appearance of Gabriel himself makes the reader assume that he is a very intelligent, elegant and self-confident person. A third example where we can see quite clearly how accepted and enjoyed Gabriel's presence is, is the scene where he tells the people, just before leaving, the story about Johnny. "... peals of laughter (which( followed Gabriel's imitation of the incident..." (p.2027) lead us to a similar characterization as in the examples above. But the point is that analysing only these small talk scenes in such an isolated way gives us a very narrow point of view. The assumption that our focused character is self-confident and unbound is thrown over-board as soon as we are concentrating on other aspects of his conduct.


James Joyce presents Gabriel to us, as already mentioned, from different...

Find Another Essay On James Joyce's The Dead - Gabriel's Search for Self

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

Vitality and Death in James Joyce's The Dead

2257 words - 9 pages embracing of death combined with his newfound passion for emotions and life.   Works Cited Benstock, Bernard. "The Dead" in James Joyce’s "Dubliners": Critical Essays. Rpt. in Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism Vol. 8. Detroit: Gale, 1983. 165-167. Daiches, David. "’Dubliners.’" The Novel and the Modern World. Rpt. in Short Story Criticism Vol. 3. Detroit: Gale, 1990. 224- 228. Foster, John Wilson. "Passage through ‘The Dead

Penelope: In Search of the Feminist in James Joyce's Ulysses

5673 words - 23 pages Penelope: In Search of the Feminist in James Joyce Ulysses is an oeuvre in rebellion against society’s standards of race, class, and religion, against traditional images of sexuality and gender. Its final book, “Penelope,” is a reflection of this rebellion, however its true feminist character has been an issue of contention among critics. A more grounded vision of Joyce’s feminism can be found through an understanding of the two

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 Search For Self-Acceptance

1893 words - 8 pages purpose of writing to God is that "Celie is willing to talk to anyone/anything that will listen to her" (Hammamsy). The people who surround her are either too young to understand her dilemmas or are the ones causing her emotional pain. The abuse she receives results in the beaters self-consciousness because he needs to prove who has the power. Being surrounded by people who do not have respect for themselves influences her to think that same way about

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

James Joyce's Araby - Araby as Epiphany for the Common Man

2076 words - 8 pages James Joyce's Dubliners - Araby as Epiphany for the Common Man Joseph Campbell was one of many theorists who have seen basic common denominators in the myths of the world's great religions, Christianity among them, and have demonstrated how elements of myth have found their way into "non-religious" stories. Action heroes, in this respect, are not unlike saints. Biblical stories are, quite simply, the mythos of the Catholic religion, with

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

Socrates and the Search for Inner Self: The Socratic Method

2006 words - 8 pages is to create. Accordingly, the Socratic search for the self assumes initially the form of a linguistic analysis in which moral or ethical terms can be subjected to a detailed examination. How would we communicate with one another if there was no common language amongst us? For even “moral convictions are expressed in language, as are in fact all ideas” (Navia, 48). Once we understand that self is defined by our choices and actions and affected

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

Search For Meaning In James Joyce's Dubliners

2437 words - 10 pages Search for Meaning in James Joyce's Dubliners Throughout Dubliners James Joyce deliberately effaces the traditional markers of the short story: causality, closure, etc. In doing so, "the novel continually offers up texts which mark their own complexity by highlighting the very thing which traditional realism seeks to conceal: the artifice and insufficiency inherent in a writer's attempt to represent reality.(Seidel 31)" By refusing to take

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

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