A love unrequited: in all forms. The boy from the gasworks is Michael Furey, one love that Gretta kept in her heart for all time, and who seized terror to Gabriel (orating to vulgarians, with superior education, etc.), Gretta’s husband.
“The Dead,” includes many characters. It shows a conundrum of personas about how one could look after life and go on traveling until the light. According to some critics, the author had grown into realizing his own flight when he wrote The Dead. And as written by the noted biographer, Richard Ellman, “The Dead is his first song of exile.”
Sad feelings open wide the writers eyes, and sometimes, in fiction bare something real for the world. To turn away from the real, but in fiction, makes an artwork perfect. Something you cannot touch can be perfect while feelings expose matters of the heart.
As for me, (I am not Irish; but English as my second language) just reading the title “The Lass of Aughrim” carves a deep hole in my stomach. And so as I try to listen to its melody; it sounds like an anthem (like a national anthem) and very sad for a love story that happens only once (as in the lyrics), unfulfilled but complete such the lines “between you and me.”
The story bites a painful narration about death, as Faukner’s (William) “A Rose for Emily.” And though the metaphors used are alive, incomparable, and extraordinary James Joyce creates an atmosphere of facing a task for all, like making death as concrete as life.
The setting of the story is during the night and with the snow. However, it does not actually say, it is Christmas. But many say “Christmas is not complete without snow.” In other parts of the world, Christmas blows December breeze. Christmas can symbolize birth, and snow can symbolize death as in many stories. Frost’s (Robert) “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening,” connotes about life’s journey, as well.
In my country, which is the Philippines, we do not have snow but windows and lamplights that come evident of peeping unto life. And in any place, life is time moving as “There is a stage out the window; the eyes as windows of the soul;” and lights on: lamp, candles, chandeliers, or match flames become an etch of hope, or a silhouette and mystery of waiting for dawn or becoming (The Little Match Girl) one with the Creator.
Gabriel in “The Dead” sees what life could have been, that instead of hating Gretta he is then moved to pity.
“Generous tears filled Gabriels eyes. He had never felt like that himself towards any woman but he knew that such a feeling must be love. The tears gathered more thickly in his eyes and in the partial darkness he imagined he saw the form of a young man standing under a dripping tree. Other forms were near. His soul had approached that region where dwell the vast hosts of the dead.”