26 pages 52 minutes read

James Joyce

The Dead

Fiction | Novella | Adult | Published in 1914

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Literary Devices


Juxtaposition is a literary device in which two images are placed next to one another so as to draw the audience’s attention to the contrast between the two. In “The Dead,” juxtaposition is used to emphasize division. The contrast between light and dark, inside and outside, and warm and cold forces the audience to consider why the world is divided in this manner. The juxtaposition between light and dark, for example, emphasizes Gabriel’s relationship to Gretta and how little he truly knows about her. When Gabriel sees Gretta in the light, he is drawn to her. As the story progresses, however, he begins to realize that he may not truly know his wife quite as well as he once believed. Increasingly, Gretta is portrayed in shadows. The juxtaposition between Gretta in the light and Gretta in the dark illustrates Gabriel’s deepening fear that Gretta is, in some way, hidden from him.

“The Dead” emphasizes the difference between the internal and the external. In a thematic sense, this difference is applied to Gabriel’s perspective of the world. He is so focused on himself and his own thoughts that he struggles to relate to other people.