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Monday, March 15, 2010

Portrayal of Gabriel Conroy in Vincent J. Cheng's "Empire and Patriarchy in 'The Dead'"

In "Empire and Patriarchy in 'The Dead,'" Vincent J. Cheng develops a theory as to why the character of Gabriel Conroy is viewed as sympathetic: "But he is no less sympathetic in spite of [...] Joyce's scrupulously searing and unflattering portrayal of him" (Joyce 349). Cheng is arguing that even though Gabriel is portrayed as a character that belittles and puts down others, the reader is still able to feel sympathetic towards his character. To defend his claim, Cheng uses the example of how Gabriel speaks of his wife's slow tendencies of getting dressed. This claims appears to be true specifically because of the way Gabriel interacts with Gretta. Because of his interaction with her, the dialogue that Gretta has with other characters (such as Aunt Kate) shows how pitiful Gabriel is viewed in the eyes of others. Cheng cites a conversation where Gretta tells that she has to wear Goloshes, saying that the next ensemble she'll have to wear is a diving suit. Through these interactions, according to Cheng, it is revealed how highly Gabriel thinks of himself and how lowly others think of him.

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