The Dead Essay

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“The Dead” Essay
Ngan Nguyen
Hour 1 “The Dead” “The Dead” by James Joyce is a captivating short story that move many readers today.
This uneventful but beautifully written modern literature has spontaneity, precise language, and most importantly, an ambiguous ending. Through Gabriel’s speech, Joyce reveals Gabriel’s true character, Dublin’s dying city, and the theme of self­awareness.
Gabriel’s speech emphasizes his disconnection with the world and his arrogance. In the beginning, it seems like he is happily married, very wealthy, and has a wonderful occupation as a teacher. However, as the story progresses, it is revealed that he is disconnected, arrogant, and controlling. Gabriel states, “It has fallen to my lot this evening, as in years past, to perform a very pleasing task but a task for which I am afraid my poor powers as a speaker are all too inadequate” (137, Joyce). This dialogue clearly reveals that Gabriel is arrogant and pretentious.
He believes that he is better than everyone else because of his occupation. Despite of his image on the outside, Joyce reveals that Gabriel is not as confident as he puts himself out to be. Leading up to the speech, Gabriel is tense and anxious about the grand speech he delivers annually.
Before the speech, Gabriel “leaned his ten trembling fingers on the tablecloth and smiled nervously at the company” (137, Joyce). This is the one of the many implications that Gabriel is not comfortable in his own skin.

The speech not only reveals Gabriel’s character, but the

position where Dublin stands as well .When Gabriel states, “Our path through life is strewn with many such sad memories: and were we to brood upon them always we could not find the heart to go on bravely with our work among the living” (139, Joyce), he is talking about the city of

Dublin. Joyce intensifies the idea of Dublin’s dead city and lack of passion in this part of the speech. He implies that the people of Dublin were too cowardly to live. They were always doing their own routine and too afraid to step out of the comfort zone. This is ironic because Gabriel is always comfortable. He always does his own routine and never steps out of his comfort zone.
Tying back to his speech, Gabriel delivers that speech every single year at the gathering. This is a routine he never breaks out of. However, he acts like he hasn’t stood up in front of an audience before. This also shows that he may be putting up a show in front of his relatives, and he is too afraid to reveal his true skin. He is always stepping outside in social settings, and he can’t seem to find his place in any setting.
Aside from his disconnection, Gabriel lacks emotion and appears to be with Gretta for lust. In the middle of his speech, Gabriel expresses, “But yet, there are always in gatherings such as this sadder thoughts that will recur to our minds: thoughts of the past, of youth, of changes, of absent faces that we miss here­to­night” (139, Joyce). Ironically, Gabriel has no idea about the past Gretta had. Although Gabriel’s perception of “the memory of those dead and gone” is uncalled for, he has no idea that Gretta was in love with someone who passed, Michael Furey.
This also displays Gabriel’s lack of intuitive sympathy and