Illusion vs. Reality

Illusion vs. Reality

  • Submitted By: chelle828
  • Date Submitted: 11/30/2008 4:31 PM
  • Category: English
  • Words: 474
  • Page: 2
  • Views: 1200

Illusion vs. Reality

In The Dead by James Joyce, illusion versus reality is a major theme

of the novella. Joyce continuously reveals illusion versus reality to the

reader through his expressive characters. In The Dead, the characters are

divided into three main groups: the Conroy marriage, the aunts, and the

guests at the party. Gabriel and Gretta Conroy, the two main characters of

the novella, are the only characters in the story that are married. Illusion

versus reality is used as a major theme in The Dead and is evident through

the Conroy’s marriage, the aunts, and the guests at the party.

The Conroy’s marriage appeared to be the average, happily married

Couple, but in reality Gretta and Gabriel Conroy barely knew each other.

The Conroys had been married for many years and had children together.

The other guests at the party seemed to admire their marriage, since they

were the only married couple at the party. In Gretta’s younger days, she

truly loved a boy named Michael, and although Michael is dead she still

loves him. At the end of the story, Gabriel realizes, “…how poor a part he,

her husband, had played in her life” (364). The love between Gabriel and

Gretta can never compare to the love that Michael and Gretta shared in the


Aunt Julia and Aunt Kate also reveal the illusion versus reality theme

to the reader. The aunts pretend to be happy at the annual holiday party, but

both Aunt Julia and Aunt Kate are older, unmarried, and lonely. In fact, the

party was the most excitement the aunts would have all year long. Since

both aunts are unmarried, Gabriel, their nephew and the only man in their

lives, performed all of the manly duties.

Illusion versus reality is once again revealed through the guests at the

annual, holiday party. All the guests pretend they are having a wonderful

time, but some wish they were elsewhere. Gabriel would like to be outside


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