James Joyce wrote “Araby” in 1905 and it was published in Joyce’s famous book Dubliners in 1914. This short story is set in lower middle-class Dublin, Ireland during the very late 1800’s. A nameless young man narrates the short story of his first love and how his vision of romance collapsed. This essay’s purpose is to analyze the short story “Araby” to find evidence of characteristics of romance in the story and to show the young man’s evolution from innocently playing with his friends and reading books to practically stalking his friend Mangan’s sister.
According to Love in the Western World by Denis De Roungemont, there are many different characteristics of romantic love. The five characteristics discussed in this essay are the dumb hero, the magnificent lady, the grueling quest, the infertile wasteland and the Holy Grail. This could be translated into a dumb boy going on a difficult quest, across a wasteland to find the Holy Grail for his lady. The enemies of romantic love are time and money and these enemies are both mentioned in this story as the young man falls in love, just to fall right back out of it.
In every romantic tale, there must be a young hero who is slightly idiotic, or he wouldn’t be going on a quest for the lady. In “Araby” the hero is the narrator, because he is willing to travel across the “wasteland” into the exotic new land for his lady. The young man becomes the hero after he is influenced by the romantic novels he discovered in his house: The Abbott, The Devout Communicant and The Memoirs of Vidocq. The young man’s focus was drawn to Mangan’s sister as she was illuminated like a goddess out of the shadow he was standing in. It says on page 40 of The Portable James Joyce (1976. New York: Penguin Books.) , “Her dress swung as she moved her body and the soft rope of her hair tossed from side to side.” The moment the young man sees her, he is caught in lust, which he mistakes for love at first sight.
In the intellectual history of Europe, Johann Wolfgang yon Goethe is central to the development of Romantic thinking, which was contemporary in his day. Goethe attempted to see the world in a new light; he reconsiders old questions of good and evil, as well as questions about human nature. The story of Faust allows such considerations. Romantics strive for something beyond their reach, beyond ...
After a long while of stalking the lady and masturbating to her image, the hero finally acquires the nerve to talk to her. As it turns out, the lady wants the young man to go to Araby for her, because of the phenomenal bazaar. On page 41 it says:
At last she spoke to me. When she addressed the first words to me I was so confused that I did not know what to answer. She asked me was I going to Araby. I forget whether I answered yes or no. It would be a splendid bazaar, she said; she would love to go.
Although she could not go because she had a convent event, he said if he went, he would get her something. So he decided to the bazaar for her, to win his lady’s affection.
Still being a minor, he had to ask his guardians for permission to go to the bazaar, along with money for transportation and to buy his lady a present. The longest part of his quest was waiting for his uncle to return home to give him the money and permission to leave. Time was of the essence, but the boy had to be patient. On page 44 it says, “After an intolerable delay the train moved out of the station slowly. It crept onward among ruinous houses and over the twinkling river.”
He had to go through the barren wasteland to get to Araby. The young man actually takes the train through Westland Row station, which surprisingly is similar to wasteland. The poor young man actually spent almost all of his money trying to get to Araby, making this a discouraging journey. In the bazaar, the young man searches for a present for his lady. He actually passes right by the Holy Grail without even realizing it. On page 45 it says, “…two men were counting money on a salver. I listened to the fall of the coins.” He didn’t realize that the salver was his Holy Grail because it was hidden in plain sight.
The Boys of "A & P" and "Araby " John Updike's "A & P" and James Joyce's "Araby" are very similar. The theme of the two stories is about a young man who is interested in figuring out the difference between reality and the fantasies of romance that play in his head and of the mistaken thoughts each has about their world, the girls, and themselves. One of the main similarities between the ...
The young hero’s hope for love is crushed while he is in Araby, because of a young Irish woman and because of money. At the end of the story, the hero is looking for a gift for his lady, but has spent so much money on transportation that he cannot afford anything fancy. He overhears a conversation between a young Irish woman and a couple of British soldiers about her selling her body for money. The young man’s hope for love has been overcome by his disgust with these people. On page 46 it says, “Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.”