Analysis of James Joyce's Araby

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Even though James Joyce’s short story Araby could be identified as a simple love story which ultimately ends up ending in failure, it is clear that the work discusses much more than the ideas of love and failure. Through the lens of a young man who has become immersed in a culture with a belief set derived from the concepts of materialism and capitalism, the reader experiences a unique journey of a poor, disillusioned human being. While love might be seen as one of the most powerful emotions felt by man, it is clear that love’s intentions can become corrupt, driven off the rightful path by a loss of reality. Though it is true that Araby’s primary focus might not be to examine the concepts of philosophical position and its effects on the individual, it seems practical for a Marxist to perceive the work as an observation of capitalism and materialism, because of the way such ideas are contrasted with the ideas of charity and emotion through literary devices.

Joyce opens his work with the depiction of a deserted residence, and while this may come off as an insignificant detail in the unnamed narrator’s perception, the late priest’s rotting home is crucial to the opposition between materialism and emotion or sympathy. First of all, it is important to note the fact that the reader is provided with little insight of the deceased man, except for the fact that he was “charitable.” Thus, it seems quite reasonable to state that the specific values stressed by the priest are decaying or rotting away, just as his house is. This is evident through the stale, decomposing tone depicted by Joyce through this passage, and the utilization of such imagery as “musty air”, “littered”, “curled and damp”, and “straggling bushes” only serves to cement...

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...storical analysis of James Joyce’s short story reveals that the work analyzes how such a quest can become corrupt, maintaining only a monetary-related objective, or a society that has commonly accepted the ideas of materialism and capitalism. Araby signifies the significance of value systems within a given culture, emphasizing the glaring effects an absence of charity or emotion might have on a small boy who simply desires affection from a female. Unfortunately for him, Joyce depicts a confusion between the ideas of romance and emotion, and materialism, creating a tone indicative of a loss of emotion and stressing the fact that even love can become indicative of capitalism. Thus, Joyce’s work thrives on the opposition between emotion and materialism, utilizing this binary opposition to depict the effects of societal mindsets on one confused, frustrated individual.
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