Explain the term “Epiphany” and its significance in Joyce’s “The Dead.”

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An epiphany in literature is a sudden moment of truth or illumination, when a lightening bolt of realization hits a character. It's the "ah-ha" moment when the character suddenly "gets" something that was eluding him, such as "It's not Mary I am in love with, it's the security her wealthy family represents." This moment of truth changes everything for the character. Its name comes from the moment of truth or epiphany the three wise men experienced when they visited the baby Jesus.

Gabriel has several epiphanies or new realizations at the end of the story. He suddenly learns for the first time that his wife loved someone before him, the young and bold Michael Furey. This leads him, all of a sudden, to see himself in a new, lesser light:

"A shameful consciousness of his own person assailed him. He saw himself as a ludicrous figure, acting as a penny-boy for his aunts, a nervous, well-meaning sentimentalist, orating to vulgarians and idealizing his own clownish lusts, the pitiable fatuous...

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