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Monday, March 15, 2010

Masculinity in "The Dead": Analyzing Cheng's Article on Empire & Patriarchy

From a reader's standpoint, Cheng's article "Empire and Patriarchy in 'The Dead'" is one of the most easily read analyses. First of all, it is of particular help to the reader that Cheng chooses to explicitly identify what he is about to discuss in the proceeding lines. One thing that struck me the most about his article is when he states, " Gabriel is himself (as per Lily's accusation) a man of 'all palaver,' for he is, as a writer of book reviews and after-dinner speeches, a man of 'words' - perhaps in contrast to his as-yet undiscovered counterpart, Michael Furey, the man of romantic 'fury' from whom Gabriel will feel a challenge to his maleness" (Cheng). This is an interesting claim because of the subtlety of gender that Joyce employs within this short story; though it is indeed a short story, he seems to say so much with very little.
For the most part, as Cheng addresses, the main purpose of the story is to play on colonialism within Ireland at the time. What often seems to be overlooked by this dominance of Post-colonial theory is the gendered themes within the story that Gabriel takes part in. I definitely agree with Cheng that there is a conflict of masculinity between Gabriel and Michael Furey, as well as with Gabriel's ideals and that of Ireland's common inhabitants. His affinity for culture and education seem to, in a sense, emasculate him from the other men like the alcoholic Freddy Malins and the respected Mr. Browne.

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