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Monday, March 15, 2010

Vincent Cheng: Empire and Patriarchy in "The Dead"

Simply put, I enjoyed Cheng’s article. I thought the simplicity of diction and sentence structure made the essay exceptionally easy to follow and comprehend. Unlike most Joycean critical essayists the sentences were not too long or too wordy, which made the article extraordinarily accessible. The arguments were stated simply and efficiently, the use of close reading was prominent and effective, and the research presented was relevant and well presented. Because of the manageability of the text, the idea that Gabriel is representative of English Imperialism is easy to comprehend and agreeable, but Cheng’s reading of “Gabriel’s final epiphany” seems shows otherwise. The argument in the final paragraph of the essay, about Gabriel reconnecting with “the uninhibited freedom of [his] Irish soul (362)”, is easy to comprehend, but was difficult after such extensive research and close reading displaying Gabriel as a British Imperialist. However, after reading the article I began to understand that Cheng is displaying Gabriel not as a direct link to British Imperialism, but as a indirect slave to the Empire. The evidence of Cheng’s concluding paragraph, that Gabriel is indeed a slaved Irish mind, is stated through his own analysis of “Johnny the Horse” story. Cheng states, “Gabriel … is unknowingly reinscribing the marks of an Irish cycle of paralysis, of satellic subservience to the Empire. (357)”

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