Dubliners

Symbolism of Snow in Joyce's The Dead

James Joyce is lauded for his distinct style of writing in free direct discourse. Though his style may seem chaotic and disjointed, Joyce adds a single fixture to his narratives that conveys a unity and connects the otherwise haphazard dialogue. In The Dead, the final story of Joyce's masterpiece, Dubliners, the symbol of snow unites the characters and is cause for a drastic transformation in the dynamic character, Gabriel. Snow is the catalyst that unifies mankind through the flawed essence of human nature, and expands Gabriel's narrow mind as he escapes from a superficial mindset and enters a world of imperfect humanity.

Snowflakes are random, unique and fragile, and thus symbolic of human nature. Humanity overflows with faults and quirks, which constitute life. The versatility and volatility of snow mirrors the human disposition. For example, melting snow becomes weak and transparent water, exemplifying the pathetic, but common characteristics of humanity. Frozen snow becomes hard, strong, and unshakable ice; this represents the domineering characteristics of humanity. Joyce uses snow to illustrate both the weak and the strong traits of water and ice, thus snow represents the fissures and cracks, as well as the...

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