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Essay By: donkylemore

conjecture about The Dead
just my surmising .. you have to read the story first

Submitted:Dec 6, 2008    Reads: 1,034    Comments: 2    Likes: 2   

He had to have this epiphianic moment in all his stories and it comes here in the form of the husband , Gabriel and the rejection of his overtures by his wife who is thinking of her love whom she last saw as he threw stones at her window in Galway the night before she left Galway.
This is Michael Furey.

He threw the pebbles at her window , to get her attention ; he wants to make that expression of his undying love for her ;he waited and the rain fell . He was in hospital and had escaped to see her . He dies a week later from pneumonia. He dies os and is buried in Oughterard cemetery - out side Galwayy.

The scorned love is represented by the limpid boot - obvious enough.
Then her husband looks out at the snow falling obliquely against the lamplight. And the narrator tells us of the snow falling all over Ireland , from east to west
On the bog of Allen , into the dark mutinous Shannon waves,He uses the terms falling softly and softly falling alternatively. - why - don't know.
But he ends where the snow is falling on every part of the lonely graveyards where Michael fury is buried
On the crooked head stones , the barren thorns ,
His soul swoons as he sees the snow softly falling through the universe , like the beginning of their last end ,upon all the living and the dead.

When asked how long it took him to write this final paragraph , he said he had all the words in the first writing but it took him 1/16 th of his life to put them in that order,

This tells us more about Joyce . Not only was he punctilious , agonising about commas, and perverted commas. But he displays here his obsessional nature. He was psychoid - not psychophrenic in his personality. He had some of the features of the schizophrenic, and passed the flawed gene on to his daughter Lucia, who when she wasn't incarcerated for her mental illness , was a profligate fornicator; abused by many of Joyce;s friends , the bohemian set in Paris.
¬Some of the thought process could be described as schizophrenic ; his 'flight of ideas ' are common and his ' knights moves thinking '- are both symptoms of the disease.
Joyce also experiences synaesthesia in other works - this is where the person experiences more than one sensation at the same time - ' softer that sound or odour ' - he tells us of his first penetrative sexual experience.
These are also the qualities which make al his work masterful.

But what is it all about,; The Dead .
The snow flake falling westward is a to refer to St Patrick's spreading Christianity to a pagan Ireland ; Joyce has rejected catholic Ireland as being too stifling to express his art, and he seeks here to deconstruct catholic Ireland by reversing the steps of the National Saint.
The rejected lover is just that . She saw none of the real unbridled love in her husband as she saw in Michael Furey.
The husband is conceited where Furey is without any . He is self fulfilling where Fury is penniless. He pushes where Furey just looks vulnerable .
He is a successful Anglophile , where Furey is a west of Ireland peasant.

There are no circumstances where the Gabriel and Furey would meet in the same room . Much less their sitting down to dinner, or ever cross one another's paths in society.
So who is Joyce in the story. Again we are left with a a question , but we are distracted by the immediate sympathy we have for the wife.
She hears the refrain of the ' Lass of Aughrim ' earkier in the evening , and it was from that moment we learn that she started to reminisce about Michael Furey
We are left wondering if ther was something about Joyce in Gabriel and something of Nora Barnacle in the wife , as there was in Molly Bloom .

He knew it was a work of genius ; yet his own true position in the pantheon of English literature was to come much later.

It is his longest short story running to over 15000 words.
But it is considered probably the finest short story written in the English language.


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