Conflict, Conscience, and Conroy College

In the short story, The Dead from the novel Dubliners by James Joyce, readers are led through a bustling, yet monotonous, dinner party by the protagonist Gabriel Conroy, an intelligent, impersonal, “cold-air” introvert who is constantly found present in his own thoughts, rather than mentally present in the majority of situations throughout the plot. In the critical essay, also titled The Dead, Eric Rapp explores the state of Gabriel’s “paralysis” stating “[t]hroughout most of the story it is clear the Gabriel is trapped in his own self-consciousness” (Rapp, 2002). Through Gabriel’s many blunders—specifically in regards to his encounters with antagonists and his mental responses to such conflict—readers are able to understand and observe Gabriel “faintly-falling” as well as the innate need for his upcoming epiphany that is to come, made possible only through James Joyce’s ingenious usage of these two literary devices.

The purpose of antagonists is to incite or bring about conflict within a plot line in order for the story to gain momentum. In doing so, antagonists hold the ability to reveal certain characteristics of the protagonist through creating conflict and the protagonist’s methods in coping with this conflict, which...

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