Character Analysis of Gabriel

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In life, one's identity is the basic foundation of one's character. Who we are is often based on the people around us, our environment, and the things that are said about us. In "The Dead" by James Joyce, Gabriel is a seemingly happily married professor and writer who is attending an annual party hosted by his aunts and Kate and Julia. Throughout the story Gabriel's true identity is masked and he never reveals his the true nature of his character. However, in the end he has to reevaluate his entire existence. Although he leads a seemingly normal life, he is unable to truly connect with his culture and heritage, his loved ones and most of all himself. Initially, Gabriel is portrayed as a man to be admired. He is tall, fashionable and well liked. He is the pride and joy of his two aunts. They long for his arrival at their party. Once he arrives at the party, we see that he is popular and seemingly self-assured. However, Gabriel is not as confident as he appears to be. Gabriel asserts his superiority with the people he believes he can control, his wife and kids. His domineering nature is symptomatic of his desire to control and prey on those weaker than himself. Gabriel believes that he is intellectually superior to most and questions the intelligence of the individuals at the party: "He was undecided about the lines from Robert Browning for he feared they would be above the heads of his hearers" (Joyce 24). Despite this assertion of superiority, Gabriel still cares what these people think of him and feels inadequate in front of them: "He would fail with them, just as he failed with the girl in the pantry" (Joyce 24). Gabriel is unsure of himself and is very much concerned with appearances. The final blow to Gabriel's faltering identity comes at the end of the story, when he learns of the relationship between his wife Gretta and Michael Furey. After the party, Gretta tells Gabriel how the song "The Lass of Aughrim" reminded her of her former love. She also tells...
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