Joyce’s Mirror Stages and “The Dead”

Part of the New Directions in Irish and Irish American Literature book series (NDIIAL)


In this chapter, Ellen Scheible argues that Joyce’s portrayal of Gabriel Conroy’s interaction with women in “The Dead” forms a precursory narrative of national identity that is echoed in Portrait and Ulysses. In “The Dead,” Joyce stages frustrated confrontations between Gabriel and the reflective female figures that mirror Gabriel’s inadequacies in order to show the gendered aspects of national and personal identity formation in modern Ireland. Gabriel must undergo a version of the Lacanian mirror stage that Stephen Dedalus later experiences on the beach in Portrait and that Leopold Bloom experiences with Gerty MacDowell in Ulysses. However, Gabriel’s moments of recognition occur within two intimate domestic spaces: his aunts’ pantry and a hotel room, suggesting that Joyce saw the Irish struggle for independence as an internal, domestic conflict prior to 1916. Scheible argues that in the cultural framework of Joyce’s Dubliners, the nation struggled and often failed to develop its identity outside of an “emasculating and overly feminized domestic interior.”


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of English/Irish StudiesBridgewater State UniversityBridgewaterUSA

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