Analysis Of James Joyce 's ' The Dead '

1857 Words Nov 29th, 2016 8 Pages
James Joyce has been regarded as a literary genius for the better half of a century, and perhaps his most popular and most widely debated piece is the last story of Dubliners, “The Dead.” The ending paragraph of the story is deemed one of the most beautiful endings in all of modern literature, and the story’s ultimate meaning can be hypothesized and criticized in discussion after discussion, making it a popular work among the ascribed literary canon in academia. The whole of Dubliners is meant to provide an insight to the real, and often masked attitudes in Dublin and all of Ireland for the time period Joyce associated with it.
So then, if we know what Joyce’s intention of the book was, what is “The Dead” really alluding to? This has sparked discussion in classrooms worldwide for decades. Is it about Ireland’s tendency for over-romanticizing tragedies, such as Gretta believing Michael Furey died for her, or the boy’s over-idealized view of romance in “Araby”? Or is it about Ireland’s slow but sure march toward death? Perhaps it is not even an effort to smear Dublin, but rather to reveal to the reader his/her own inadequacies through the reflection of an everyday reality of life in Dublin.
Joyce ends “The Dead” with a self-serving epiphany, one that perhaps describes all of Ireland. His use of an overtly sentimental ending and constant references to Gabriel’s perceived generosity creates a feeling of transcendence when in all reality it’s just an image to save Gabriel from…
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