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Topics: Dubliners, James Joyce, The Dead Pages: 23 (7369 words) Published: October 26, 2014
‫ خميس خلف محمد‬.‫ م‬.‫م‬
3122 ‫) أيـلــول‬8( ‫العــدد‬

‫جملة آداب الفراهيدي‬

Self-discovery in James Joyce's
The Dead

Self-discovery in James Joyce's
The Dead
‫ خمــــــــــــــيس خلــــــــــــــف محمــــــــــــــد‬.‫ م‬.‫م‬ ‫ قدـم االنكليـي‬/‫ كليـة التربيـة‬/‫جامعة تكريت‬ ‫ن‬


"The Dead" is the last, longest and most famous story of
James Joyce's Dubliners. This study deals with the processes of self-realization of Gabriel Conroy, the protagonist of this story, who is a pompous master of ceremonies at the Christmas party of his old aunts. A number of external factors, especially assaults and humiliations, are trying progressively to break down the walls of Gabriel's circle of his own egotism. Within this process of events, we will be in touch with the power of the dead over the living and the past over the present.

Kate and Julia Morkan, two elderly sisters who live with
their spinster niece, are holding their annual Christmas dance. Their married nephew, Gabriel Conroy, sensitive professor and part-time book reviewer attends with his wife Gretta who his habit on such occasions, delivers an after-dinner speech. At the party Gabriel meets a young Irish nationalist called Miss Ivors who accuses him of being a playful West Briton. Among the

guests is a tenor, Bartell D'Arcy, who sings after the dinner a ballad that affects Gabriel's wife, Gretta, strangely. As the party is breaking up, Gabriel witnesses his wife listening to this song, but the intensity of her focus or the music causes him feel both sentimental and lustful for her. In a hotel room later, while he is trying to approach her, she breaks into tears and tells him that the tenor's song had reminded her of a former young lover named


‫ خميس خلف محمد‬.‫ م‬.‫م‬
3122 ‫) أيـلــول‬8( ‫العــدد‬

‫جملة آداب الفراهيدي‬

Self-discovery in James Joyce's
The Dead

Michael Furey she had known when she lived in the country, and she believes that the young boy died for her. Gabriel is so much shocked to discover that he has misunderstood his wife's feelings. He realizes that she has never felt similarly passionate about their marriage. He feels that all his assumptions about his life feelings and love are in a moment torn down. And, as he is watching the snow continues to fall alike on the living and the dead, he

undergoes on an epiphany, a moment of sublime understanding. He feels alone and profoundly mortal, but spiritually connected for the first time with others.

Unity of Themes and Use of Symbolism
This story "The Dead", is the longest one among the other
Dubliners. It reflects the real "ingenious insularity and
hospitality" (Peake: 45) of Dublin city. Through such
atmosphere, Joyce tries to build up a story with new qualities he had not done, but without weakening the sharpness of his
criticism. "The Dead" reflects a dominant image of a dying city rather than a paralyzed one as in the most of Joyce's Dubliners. In spite of the atmospheric celebration of an annual party but one can feel the smell of death and graveyards everywhere from the title of the story to the lifeless relationship between Gabriel and his wife. In this sense, some critics stress that Joyce is

representing symbolically a society of the "living dead". For instance, Bernard Benstock confirms that this story is mainly concerned with "those who remain alive, but fail to live: the disillusioned, the self-destructive, the blighted and wasted lives" while Hugh Kenner goes so far to describe "The Dead" as a

"definition of living death" (quoted in Triggs:1).
Hence, the theme of death is very clear in this story in
addition to the two main themes of moral paralysis and
corruption. Joyce links these themes closely to most of

‫ خميس خلف محمد‬.‫ م‬.‫م‬
3122 ‫) أيـلــول‬8( ‫العــدد‬

‫جملة آداب الفراهيدي‬

Self-discovery in James Joyce's
The Dead

Dubliners. As paralysis often precedes death, and corruption could also be...

Bibliography: and Faber, 1965.
Chace, William. ed., Introduction, James Joyce: A Collection of
critical Essays: New Jersey: Princeton Hall, 1974.
Limited, 2001.
Ellman, Richard. The Back Grounds of "The Dead" (1959). In
Morris Beja 's James Joyce: Dubliners and A Portrait of
Critical Handbook. Belmont, California: Wadsworth,
1969, PP.35-62.
Kenner, Hugh. "Dublin 's Joyce". London: University of
California Press, (1999), PP.73-75.
Peake, C. H. James Joyce: The Citizen and the Artist. London:
Arnold Press, 1977.
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