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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Vincent J. Cheng’s “Empire and Patriarchy in ‘The Dead’”: Gabriel the Imperialist

In reading James Joyce’s “The Dead,” I was most intrigued by Gabriel’s portrayal as a sympathizer of Great Britain and their imperialism and the opposition he faces by the Irish nationalist characters in the story, in particular Miss Ivors. This portrayal is also used in Cheng’s critical article of “The Dead.” He labels Miss Ivors as an “outspoken Irish Nationalist” (352) and Gabriel as a “West Briton” (353) who denies “his Irishness, that unruly, romantic, wilder, less cultured, less civilized, and uncolonizable self” (352). He also cites Gabriel’s desire to vacation in France and Brussels instead of West Ireland and the desire to speak languages other than Irish as evidence of his British imperialistic sympathies until he finally says “I’m sick of my own country, sick of it!” (353). As I was reading Cheng’s interpretation of these passages, I saw that his views closely matched my own. I saw Gabriel as a sympathizer to the British cause of imperialistic dominance over Ireland by reading the text of “The Dead” and especially the footnotes explaining the text.

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