Corruption In The Dead By James Joyce

Decent Essays

James Joyce’s Dubliners: “The Dead” explores corruption in connection to power relations. Specifically, through the interaction between Lily, the housemaid, and Gabriel reveals the abuse of money between the powerful and the servants. Further, Gabriel’s attempt to buy off his wrongdoing reveals a corrupt behavior; Lily, although exposing his corrupt actions, leads him to make an even more corrupt action: paying her off. Lily plays a short, yet vital, role in Joyce’s “The Dead.” She is “the caretaker’s daughter, [whp] did / housemaid work” (322). Lily’s role in the story, however, comes from her effect on Gabriel’s mood, as she makes him feel embarrassed and ashamed. When Gabriel says to Lily, “I suppose we’ll be / going to your wedding one …show more content…

When realizing that his words have caused Lily remorse, Gabriel says, “O Lily, he said, thrusting it into her hand, it’s / Christmas time, isn’t it? Just… here’s a little…” (324). Though he attempts to allude to the fact that his gift of money is because of the Christmas season, Gabriel giving money to Lily out of guilt from his words indicates the authority that he holds over her. Further, this power relation between the characters indicates the corrupt nature of Gabriel. His ignorant comment to someone who is of lower status than him is excused by his possession of money. Though the dishonest nature of his words is what brought him into this situation, it is his attempt to buy away his ignorance which reveals his corrupt character. Ultimately, he chooses to be ignorant and gain authority over Lily, because he has the funds to pay away the consequences. Joyce addresses corruption in Dubliners: “The Dead” through Lily’s power in contrast to Gabriel’s. Lily’s insight into her own role contradict Gabriel’s assumption of what her role should be. Specifically, Gabriel attempt to buy away his guilt from what he says further reveals Lily’s understanding of corruption. Ultimately, it is his action of money in exchange for ignorance that reveals his dishonorable

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