James Joyce's story "The Dead" has a tremendous impact on the
readers, especially those who are familiar with the political situation in
Ireland at the time about which the Joyce wrote the final story in
Dubliners. In exploring the meaning of James Joyce's long short-story,
"The Dead", there are many critical approaches to take. Each approach
gives readers a lens, a set of guidelines through which to examine and
express ideas of the meaning of "The Dead." Joyce himself said that the
idea of paralysis was the intended theme of all the stories in The Dubliners
of which "The Dead" is the final story.
Of all critical approaches, reader
response works best for me. This approach examines the images, symbols,
point-of-view, characterization and setting of "The Dead" in such a way as
to reveal the theme of paralysis that Joyce intended. The two characters
that appeal to me are, Gabriel and his wife Gretta who are invited every
year to a family gathering by Gabriels two aunts on New Years eve. Gabriel,
who is a university professor, does not want to be identified with Ireland.
He wants to be identifies as a citizen of the world. His arrogance is
revealed in his interaction with others. A
primary example would be the way he treats his wife Gretta as an object.
As Peter J. Rabinowitz informs one that in reader response
criticism the "...activity of reading always alters the text at hand. Unless
we are limiting ourselves to reading in the sense of uninflected recitation,
reading is never a passive activity to which the reader contributes nothing.
In the reader res...
... middle of paper ...
... Gabriel is
paralyzed emotionally, as he does not know what is going to happen next.
In conclusion the narrators attitude towards the events is perhaps
how he wants the reader to interpret the events. The narrator perhaps
wants to tell the reader despite all the tension at that time, the people
in Dublin still want to forget the problem and enjoy at least on New Years
Day where it can be with their loved ones to relax.
The Dead. Dir. John Houston. Perf. Anjelica Houston, Donal McCann.
Bestron Pictures, 1987
Joyce, James. The Dead. Ed. Daniel R. Scwarz. Cornell University, 1994
Rabinowitz, Peter J. "A Symbol of Something": Interpretive Vertigo in "The
Dead." Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1987
Scwarz, Daniel R., ed. The Dead. Cornell University, 1994
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