Reader Response to James Joyce's The Dead Essay

Reader Response to James Joyce's The Dead Essay

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Reader Response to Joyce's The Dead

  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.


Work Cited


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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