The Dead by James Joyce: Wasteland Imagery

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By As I reflected upon the "The Dead" I pondered the manner in which James Joyce implemented "wasteland imagery" in the story. My understanding of the definition of "wasteland imagery" as it applies to this story is to represent an aspect of life as lacking in spiritual, aesthetic, or other humanizing qualities through use of vivid or figurative language. Throughout the story I couldn't help but notice finely nuanced descriptions and bits of dialogue where Joyce undercuts the celebratory nature of the evening with such imagery. Descriptions of the characters in the story seemed to focus on their plain appearances and portray them as lacking emotional connection, and passion. In the very beginning when Gabriel and Gretta Conroy enter the story Gretta is referred to as being "perished alive" (Joyce 81) and all evening her husband Gabriel is disconnected and out of place with the other characters. Other descriptions that stood out for me was how Aunt Julia was described as having the "appearance of a woman who did not know where she was or where she was going"(Joyce 83) and Freddy Malins looked "Sleepy".(Joyce 86) Based on the comments and interactions in the story the impression I gathered from Joyce is that the characters had allowed themselves to accept a dull, repetitive day-to-day existence and it had made them all slightly bitter. Though they expressed their discontent they possessed no passion or motivation to break out of their traditional routines. I thought is was especially interesting how so much bickering and negative emotions were prevalent at a traditional Christmas feast with friends and family but it brilliantly contributed to his desired imagery. It seemed to me that the only character that seemed to have been able to have any semblance of passion or feeling ironically is the one character in the story that is already dead, Michael Furey. Aside from the characters Joyce made several references to the cold and illness which added a sense of gloom to...
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