Character Analysis of Gabriel in James Joyce's 'The Dead'

596 Words Jan 31st, 2018 2 Pages
The T.S. Eliot poem "The Wasteland" famously portrays a world in which all meaning is lost, and men are hollow and 'stuffed' with nothing of true substance. "What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow/Out of this stony rubbish?" asks Eliot in his famous poem. In the critical final scene of "The Dead," Gabriel realizes that despite living with his wife for many years, he knows little of her true character. As Eliot says: "I will show you fear in a handful of dust." By the end of the story, Gabriel feels that his life is a mere handful of dust. The story begins with Gabriel and his wife paying a call upon the Morkan sisters for a holiday party. The sisters make Gabriel feel very important, and Gabriel takes himself extremely seriously, which is most clearly manifested in his long-winded speech, toasting the participants during the middle of the party. As symbolized in the amount of concern he devotes to small details, like his galoshes, Gabriel is obsessed with 'dust' or minutiae, and is unable to see the big picture, gazing at the world with the fragmented perspective of one of Eliot's "Wasteland" characters.
Gabriel takes himself seriously and is often taken aback by any challenge to his fragile sense of masculinity. He…
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