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James Joyce's Araby Essay

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James Joyce was an Irish born author whose descriptions of the mundane life in his hometown of Dublin led to a collection of short stories that include some of the most widely read pieces of British literature. This collection known as the “Dubliners” contains 15 short stories that each centers around a different group of characters and reveals a new theme about life in the city. In Joyce's "Araby", part of the “Dubliners” collection, a young and nameless narrator becomes enamored with his friend Mangan’s sister and attempts to win her affections by bringing a gift to her from the bazar that has come into town. The narrator hopes that his visit to the Araby bazaar will not only win her heart but give him some sense of fulfillment as well. This hope for fulfillment stems from the fact that to the boy the bazar has become a symbolic escape from the everyday drudgery in neighborhood and presents the possibility of a change in scenery. He pictures the bazaar as an enchanting and foreign place full of captivating people and tales of adventure and far off lands but at the end of the story he realizes the truth of his situation. The detailed description of the setting, life and thoughts of the narrator aid Joyce in creating a sense of unfilled desire and boredom within the story which leads to the development of a central theme: the inherent romanticism and naïve desires that come with youth are often met with frustration due to the boundaries of one’s environment.
To begin, for the narrator everyday life in Dublin is a tedious and frustrating routine, his life ticks away in his dull surroundings. Joyce indicates how limited the narrator’s neighborhood by describing the physical details of it: "North Richmond Street, being blind, was ...


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...searching for, the narrator simply gives up and resigns to a dull existence. He seems to interpret his arrival at the bazaar at the exact moment it begins to fade into obscurity as a sign that his relationship with Mangan’s sister will also remain just a wishful idea and that his infatuation was as misguided as his fantasies about the bazaar. At the end, the boy's pure ideals are finally destroyed. He believes now he has a more complete understanding of his misfortunate environment. Dublin is now not only a place littered with monotony, bad singing, slow-moving trains and drunken men, but a place with no noble concepts for the mind to rely on. All of which is revealed through his thoughts and actions in this last pivotal moment.






Works Cited

Joyce, James. "Araby." General Editor : Greenblatt, Stephen. The Norton Anthology of English Literature (9th Edition).



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