Tuesday, March 16, 2010
on "Empire and Patriarchy in 'The Dead'"
Cheng's article is well-written and clear. In his introduction he explains exactly what it is he is aiming to achieve and how he plans on doing so. His use of quotations isn't overabundant, I don't think, and every one serves a purpose, every one supports his argument. His examination of the text is particular (or close) and insightful. Nothing seems generalized as his arguments are always reinforced with textual evidence. While I might disagree with his suppositions, I envy his ability to put together a very coherent and near-convincing argument. I am always hesitant to look too much into a text in order to unearth some maybe-there political or ideological commentary, so I'm sort of, I guess, put off by Cheng's claim about Gabriel's patriarchy and imperialism and how it all relates to the British Empire and Ireland (though the parallels certainly exist), but I found his ideas on Gabriel's epiphanic episode mostly sound and definitely interesting -- and also written coordinately eloquently. So, while he maybe goes a bit too far in instances such as his discussion of the Wellington Monument (that "phallic obelisk"), I think Cheng's essay is one of the best we've read so far and I hope that in the future we read articles more like it and less like some of the other dryer, more mechanical pieces we've encountered.