Trial by Combat

‘The Dead’ James Joyce vs The Dead

Throughout the history of mankind, artists have been tackling the themes of death within their work. To almost suggest and document their idea of death. What happens after we die, is there existence after death? Many of these artists now and previously in history all tried to answer these questions. However, James Joyce answers these wonders in a unique way in the Dubliners: The Dead giving the dead a supernatural effect where they influence the alive despite being dead. This is seen in the case of Gabriel and his wife’s Gretta’s ex dead lover, Michael Furey. In the story Micheal being dead effects Gabriel’s mental state, as we are shown the insecure side of Gabriel, the side that thinks he cannot be as great of a lover as Micheal was to Gretta. So this power shifts from the living to the dead. This is a prime example of living through your deeds and past work, so people still remember you after you are gone. Micheal love represents ideas and works you should leave behind. Live not to impress others but live for what you want to be remembered after you are six feet under the ground.

Image of James Joyce

Another of many themes of death in the story The Dead is Gabriel and his journey of accepting death. Which in a way indicates how Joyce might have felt about dead. Through Gabriel, Joyce dictates how death is universal and everyone’s time eventually comes so there should be no fear to pass. There is no escaping the expiration date for death. So this in mind we proceed.

We start to see Gabriel’s perspective develop about death when he says, “… one by one they were all becoming shades” (83). This comparison of shades reflects his view of his own life. How he thinks he has not done enough. If he was to tass away he would not be missed or loved how Micheal is missed (Gretta will not love him the same as she did to Micheal). So this hunger grows in him alongside the realization to live life to be remembered and loved after he is gone. The jealousy for Micheal and his passionate love for Gretta is what will fuel Gabriel to become a better person. To try harder at everything and to put more effort into things.

This all comes back to Joyce and his work ethic. Though he does not fully answer the century long questions about death, through Gabriel he suggests ways to live life so when the time of death arrivwes you are not scared to move on to the next stage. We are mostly afraid oif death because we will miss out on experances, miss out on events. However, there have been things happening before our births and there willl be events happing after. So it does not really matter when we die. What matters is how we are remembered.

1 Comment

  1. Hi Levon! I think you have a great analysis and have gotten to the point of the story. I really like how you stated “we are mostly afraid of death because we will miss out on experiences, miss out on events. However, there have been things happening before our births and there will be events happening after”. I don’t necessarily think that Gabriel’s epiphany is fuel that will make him become a better person, because I don’t really think he is concerned about ethics, but more so how vibrant he can make his life before death.

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