Araby Literary Critique

2 February 2017

Araby, by James Joyce, is a story about an unnamed narrator who becomes infatuated with his friend, Mangan’s, sister, but does not have the courage, nor the will power to pursue his affections.

After observing her in the gloomy streets of Dublin for some time, an opportunity finally presents itself as Mangan’s sister initiates conversation with the narrator, altering the narrator’s otherwise repetitive and simple life. “I had never spoken to her, except for a few casual words, and yet her name was like a summons to all my foolish blood” (Joyce).Mangan’s sister asks the narrator if he is going to Araby, a Dublin bazaar which she cannot attend due to a prior school commitment. Shocked and confused, the narrator offers to bring her something from the bazar, a conversation which launches him into a period of intense anticipation and eagerness to go. “I did not know whether I would ever speak to her or not or, if I spoke to her, how I could tell her of my confused adoration” (Joyce).He is unable to concentrate in school, finding the work tedious; his thoughts are consumed by Mangan’s sister. The morning of the departure for the bazaar, the narrator reminds his uncle to return home early with the train fare, yet his uncle keeps the narrator waiting in constant anticipation and eagerness.

Araby Literary Critique Essay Example

It is not until much later that the uncle returns home with the train fare, insouciant about forgetting the narrator’s plans. After a lonely train ride, he arrives at the bazaar to find the shops closing for the night. I lingered before her stall, though I knew my stay was useless” (Joyce). The narrator begins to contemplate why he is there and becomes upset as he makes discoveries about himself. “Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger” (Joyce). In Araby, Joyce is able to show contrast between the familiarity and routine of everyday and the allure of the excitement of new love by his use of language, symbolism and metaphor.The attention to detail which Joyce took allows the reader to experience the mundane environment and adds a feeling of melancholy to the story.

“When we met in the street the houses had grown sombre” (Joyce). As seen in the previous quotation, the description of the environment portrays a dull town and a repetitive, tedious life. “I wished to annihilate the tedious intervening days” (Joyce). Furthermore, the story references the late priest which had lived in the house previously to the narrator, giving the story a dark, empathetic feeling.Joyce also used symbolism to help the reader interpret the meaning of the piece. The bazaar was symbolic of the adventure and change to an otherwise routine lifestyle, just as Magnan’s sister was symbolic of the narrator’s navigation from childhood to adulthood, representing desire as well as freedom. Joyce also used metaphor to give the story depth, comparing the mindless actions of child play with the narrator’s need for liberation by creating a hierarchy between teacher and student.

I watched my master’s face pass from amiability to sternness; he hoped I was not beginning to idle. I could not call my wandering thoughts together. I had hardly any patience with the serious work of life which, now that it stood between me and my desire, seemed to me child’s play, ugly monotonous child’s play” (Joyce). The story seems anonymous as neither the narrator nor Magnan’s sister is ever named, suggesting that there is no room for love or variation in an otherwise tedious, routine life.Through frustration, Joyce conceives the thought that all people experience an infuriating desire for love and adventure, regardless of its plausibility or attainability. Joyce succeeds in relaying the theme of his work as he tells the tragic story in a suspenseful manner, using literary devices and attention to detail to give the story depth. The narrator has evolved from immaturity to the beginnings of adulthood, along with the discovery of his disappointing reality.

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