Comparing The Dead and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

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The Dead and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Unlike the preceding stories in Dubliners, which convey the basic theme of paralysis, "The Dead" marks a departure in Joyce's narrative technique. As one critic notes, in this final story of Dubliners: "The world of constant figures has become one of forces that, in relation to each other, vary in dimension and direction" (Halper 31). Epstein has offered some insight into Joyce's technique in Portrait: "Each section . . . contains significant 'timeless' moments in the life of the artist, selected from a lifetime of events. The reader's attention traces the line of the curve from one point to the next until the complete curve is defined. . . . Both he [the artist] and the
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Similarly, in "The Dead" and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce created characters and setting infused with liminality. While many critics have discussed certain temporal and spatial qualities of the works of Joyce, few have focused on the theme of liminality as it relates to Joyce's presentation of the artist's development. Here, then, is my exploration of the significance of liminality in these two works, as it pertains to the development of two similar, yet different, artists: Gabriel Conroy and Stephen Dedalus. At the outset, it will be useful to separate this discourse into three basic parts: the first being a comparison/contrast of the characters of Gabriel and Stephen; secondly, a discussion of examples of liminality in A Portrait and "The Dead"; and, finally, an interpretation of the closure of these two works.

David Wright has pointed to Stephen Dedalus and Gabriel Conroy as two characters which are based largely on Joyce himself. However, Wright concludes:

In his earlier works, Joyce had allocated some of his creative energy to his protagonists, though he kept these figures at a safe distance by withholding from them parts of his own being . . . : Gabriel Conroy reviews books but doesn't write them; Stephen seems a less promising writer than Joyce, despite his intelligence, and also has a less developed sense of humour. (111)

Unlike the preceding stories in Dubliners,

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