Kate and Julia Morkin, together with their niece, Mary Jane, hold the annual party in the spirit of Christmas and invite their favorite nephew, Gabriel Conroy and his wife, Gretta. When Gabriel and Gretta arrive together, his two aunts welcome them with warmth. The couple then tries to relax and enjoy the party at the same time. During the party, he encounters some awkward confrontations. He engages in small talk with the housemaid Lily to which she retorts. He also endures dancing with a fellow teacher, Miss Ivors.
The couple decides to spend the night at a nearby hotel and travel back home the next day instead of going home directly after the event. As expected, many guests have come over and enjoyed dancing and chatting over drinks. The always drunk Freddy Malins also shows up in the party and ends up being sobered by Mr. Brownie, another guest who was previously too busy flirting with young girls. Gabriel decides to leave the two gentlemen in each other’s company so they would not do any more mischievous deeds in the party. The party goes on with Mary Jane playing the piano while the guests keep on dancing.
Julia even sang a song for the guests who really enjoyed her performance. After the said performances, dinner is served with Gabriel sitting at the head of the table to do the goose carving. After eating, he then makes his speech, praising the hospitality of Kate, Julia, and Mary Jane. He praised such hospitality as a remarkable Irish strength since being hospitable, during that time, is becoming undervalued. During his speech, he also reminds the guests that is highly important not to dwell too much on the past and the dead. He adds that everyone should enjoy and live in the present with those people who are still alive.
After his speech, the guests applaud him and raise a toast. As the party begins to come to an end, Gabriel notices Gretta listening intensely to the sound of the famous tenor, Bartell D’Arcy. The sight causes him to be engulfed in a sudden rush of sentimental feeling and lust. However, in their hotel room later that evening, he discovers that he has misinterpreted the feelings of Gretta. While listening to the song earlier, his wife has been stirred by memories left by an old love, Michael Furey, who died for the sake of his love for her.
Devastated, Gabriel is overcome with the realization that his wife has never had the same passion that he felt for her and their marriage. The story ends with Gabriel contemplating the life he had. He realizes how human he is, and at the same time, how spiritually connected he is with other people. Character Analysis The marriage of Gabriel and his wife is suffering from paralysis. This paralysis is a result of Gabriel’s denial and lack of interest on Irishmen encounter and his admiration to English. At the same time, the character of Gabriel in The Dead suffers from paralysis and love frustration.
He dwells on his own revelation without suppressing or rejecting it, and can place himself in a greater perspective. In the final scene of the story, when he intensely contemplates the meaning of his life, Gabriel has a vision not only of his own boring life but of his role as a human. Gabriel’s character in The Dead represents many characters from earlier stories in Dubliners. He is short tempered, has great social consciousness and ends up frustrated in love. Gabriel has different identities as perceived by people around him. To his aunts, he is one great man in their family—a loving, cheerful, and responsible fellow.
This can be seen on the part when dinner was served and Gabriel did the carving of the goose. Towards the other female characters such as Lily, Ms. Ivors, and even to his own wife Gretta, he is a big disappointment; he tries to make a connection with them but fails to do so. He ends up in awkward situations like offending Lily about her love life. On the hand, Ms. Ivors was also down about her conversation with Gabriel about the cycling tour. Finally, Gretta demonstrates fondness and tenderness to him but he takes superiority over her, making it hard for him to adjust to the world around him.