James Joyce was born on February 2nd, 1882, in Dublin. His lifelong obsession with his own Irish culture, and the local city of Dublin, inspired many of his works. In particular, Dubliners, a collection of short stories taking place in Dublin, published in 1914, testifies to this obsession. "The Dead" is included in Dubliners, and is the last component of this collection, and especially significant in his expression of the true spirit of his homeland. This tale deals primarily, as the title suggests, with the dead, but not directly. The title refers to the old people of Ireland, with an emphasis on famous, beautiful singers, and a particular youth named Michael Furey, who was described as an ambitious singer, who had planned to go to school to advance a potential career in singing.
[...] shifts drastically from one of peacefulness to moderate awkwardness to, at times, open hostility. the entire tale told takes place in a single evening, ending with the retirement of Gabriel and Gretta. The portrayal of Irish hospitality plays a significant role in this story, moreso than in the preceding stories in Dubliners¸ but Finney does not believe that the tone of this one is especially different, because even though hospitality sheds a gorgeous light upon the Irish people, the darker role of redemption and recognition of fault are more significant Finney offers two possible broad levels of interpretation of the story: one on the motivation of male desires, and one based on female desires. [...]
[...] It is of immense significance to the story that Michael literally died for Gretta, although she neither requested nor required this of him. This sacrifice was for his benefit, yet, in a way, it benefited her as well, for there is wisdom borne out of each profound experience, and the experience of one giving his last breath away for another is profound, if nothing else. Michael Furey, though he does not make an appearance in the contemporary setting, largely due to the fact that he is quite dead long before the story takes place, establishes the title single-handedly. [...]
[...] He later assumes that his wife's encouragement of a trip to Galway, suggested by Miss Ivors, had to do with meeting this former lover once more, before learning, to his embarrassment that he had died (237). This ultimately leads him to the epiphany which defines the story: the realization that the old Irish culture and its power over contemporary men is no exaggerated phenomenon, but a strong and durable force, never to be reckoned with by mere mortals such as he (241). [...]
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