How is the experimentation and changes in form and content of British authors during that time period exemplifed in "The Dead" by James Joyce?What were the most important changes taking place in...

How is the experimentation and changes in form and content of British authors during that time period exemplifed in "The Dead" by James Joyce?

What were the most important changes taking place in British literature during that time period? Namely in the styles of prose and poetry? Thanks.

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susan3smith eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Dead" is the last short story in The Dubliners and is considered the finest.  The Dubliners, published in 1914, represents many of the characteristics of modernist fiction.  Such British authors include Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, D.H. Lawrence.

Some of the changes taking place in British literature during that time period represented in "The Dead"  are as follows:

(1) Paralysis as a theme.  Gretta is stuck in the past remembering the passionate Michael who died for her. The party is governed by tradition and custom.

(2) Alienation as a theme.  Gabriel feels somewhat alienated from his own countrymen, his aunts, and later his wife.

(3) Stream of consciousness or interior monologue.  The story is told through Gabriel's perspective; his thought processes at the party and in the more intimate scene with his wife are recounted.

(4) Epiphany--action is internal rather than external.  Gabriel has several epiphanies through the story, the primary one is that his life pales in contrast to that of Michael Furey and that he did not understand his wife as well as he thought he did.

(5) Realistic focus or focus on the ordinary rather than the sensational.  Story focuses on an annual party given by Gabriel's aunts followed by a domestic scene between Gabriel and his wife.

(6)  Ambiguity and indeterminate ending.    The story ends with the ambiguous snow that seems to unite, cover, and paralyze all.