Mortality in 'Dubliners'

Much of Dubliners revolves around the weary contemplation of mortality, the apex of which appears in the novel’s endpiece, “The Dead,” which serves as the perfect counterpart to “The Sisters,” bookending the collection of stories with a cyclic emphasis on the intersection between life and death, recapitulating the central recurring themes of poverty, political division, paralysis, religion, and human transience. The novel opens with the macabre image of a dead priest in his coffin and closes with a thick blanket of snow falling over all the living and dead. Death has progressed from the individual to the universal, demonstrating the inescapability of the final human end.

Despite bleak imagery of “crooked crosses and headstones” there is a somber delicacy and sentimentality to the dark scene; the “beautiful death” described in “The Sisters” reaches a pinnacle in the melancholic beauty of the dark flakes of snow falling over the lonely land, and Gabriel’s “soul swoon(s) slowly” as he mediates upon the poignantly silent night. The certainty of death unites all mankind – the snow is “general all over Ireland” and falls “upon all the living and the dead,” removing all divisions between human beings as eventually, each and every one...

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