Essay on James Joyce's "The Dead"

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James Joyce's short story "The Dead" deals with the meaning of life. This title is significant and enhances several aspects of the story. First of all, it reveals that the characters are unable to be emotional. They are physically living but emotionally dead. Second of all, it contributes to the main subject of the story, Gabriel's epiphany. The title contributes to these aspects of the story by adding meaning and acting as a reminder of the overall theme of the story.

The title, "The Dead", reveals the difference between how the people appear to be and who they really are. All the people at the party appear lively, but inside, these people are dead. Dead in this context implies that they are emotionally dead, but also that they
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Another example where the characters are dead occurs where they talk about an order of monks who sleep in their coffins. These monks actually act as a metaphor for the characters. While discussing why the monks do this, the reason is given that "it was the rule; that was all" (Joyce 871). This statement shows the ability to accept something because it is a rule without even understanding the real purpose and parallels the acceptance of social rituals by the characters. They each act the way they do because it is "the rule." The characters also call the monks "very good men" (Joyce 871). This represents that the characters see the blind acceptance of these social rituals as a good thing. This metaphor illustrates the characters as empty and meaningless. It is also noted that the monks do not speak to each other. This is also true about the characters. They do not really interact with each other out of this ritual. The only difference between the characters and the monks is that the monks have a greater purpose for their actions. This emphasizes how self-involved the characters are.

It is also relevant that each of the characters in the story seem to feel they are superior and able to control their lives. The title "The Dead" is a reminder to the reader that these characters are wrong.