The Meaning Of Snow In James Joyce's The Dead

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Journey to fulfilling life One of the most recognized images of Joyce’s The Dead is the image of snow which is captured throughout the whole text. Obviously, the snow could be read as nothing more than a nature phenomenon, if fairly rare in Ireland. Yet, the text visibly encourages ascribing snow a symbolic significance. The snow can be considered as the ultimate image of Joyce’s The Dead and there are many ways of understanding the meaning of the snow. Richard Ellmann argues snow represents a general sense of union of all men: “Under its canopy, all human beings, whatever their degrees of intensity, fail into union..” (Ellmann 139). On the other hand, Florence L. Walzl builds her reading of snow upon an elaborate study of an extended Christian…show more content…
Gretta is since beginning portrayed as sweet, happy, country girl who, however, does not reach Gabriel’s intellectual standards. Gabriel seems even more controlling and oppressive stating: “But as for Gretta there, she’d walk home in the snow if she were let.” (Joyce 119). Just as Gabriel tried to protect himself from snow by wearing goloshe, he tried to protect Greta from it as well, to probably unwittingly prevent the changes that they will both nonetheless undergo as the story proceeds. It is while Gabriel saw Gretta walking in the snow when he realises his passion and feelings for her: “She was walking on before him so lightly and so erect that he longed to run after her noiselessly, catch her by the shouders and say something foolish and affectionate into her ear.” (Joyce 142). Gretta’s role in Gabriel’s journey is to set the mirror to Gabriel and let him realises, through his own feelings, that the life as he lives now is not a fulfilled life. According to Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, “Man will only become better when you make him to see what he is like.” Gretta is the one who welcomes snow since beginning, which symbolises her enlightenment and ability to leave the past behind and willingness to adapt to changes. Gabriel realises that although his mother was against his marriage with Gretta, Gretta was able to put it behind and care about her during her last long illness…show more content…
The final transformation happens after Gabriel hears story about Michael Furrey, Gretta’s tragically deceased lover, who was willing to give up his life only to see Greta for one last time. It is symbolic Michael’s death was caused by cold rain, which is in fact melted snow, represents Michael’s will to live his life to the fullest. Gabriel, after admitting his love for Gretta, undergoes his transformation: “Other forms were near. His soul had approached that region where dwell the vast hosts of the dead. He was conscious of, but could not apprehend, their wayward and flickering existence. His own identity was fading our into a grey impalpable world: the solid world itself, which these dead had one time reared and lived in, was dissolving and dwilling: (Joyce 150) Walzl describes this final scene as “Gabriel’s recognition that he is a dead member of a dead society” (Walzl 17), however it can also means the realisation that slowly perishing with age is the depreciation of the time we’ve been given among the living, however, dying for our passion and love would be on the other hand celebration of life. Gabriel seems to realise this by stating: “Better pas boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.”

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