An Analysis of Araby in James Joyce's Dubliners Joyce Dubliners Araby Essays
An Analysis of Araby

����� There are many statements in the story "Araby" that are both

surprising and puzzling.� The statement that perhaps gives us the most

insight into the narrator's thoughts and feelings is found at the end of

the story.� "Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven

and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger. (32)"� By

breaking this statement into small pieces and key words, we can see it as a

summation of the story's major themes.

����� At this point in the story, many emotions are swirling about in the

narrator's head.� His trip to the bazaar has been largely unsuccessful.� He

was late arriving, was unable to find a gift for Mangan's sister, felt

scorned by the merchants, and suddenly found himself in a dark room.� These

surroundings left him feeling both derided, and with a sense that this

eagerly anticipated trip had been in vain.

����� Many other situations caused him to feel driven and derided by

vanity.� His reflections of the "charitable" life of the priest who

occupied the narrator's house before the narrator make us wonder if the

priest led a life of vanity.� His early obsession with Mangan's sister now

seems in vain.� "I had never spoken to her ... and yet her name was like a

summons to my foolish blood. (4)"� He feels ashamed and ridiculed by his

earlier inability to communicate with Mangan's sister.� He sees how

distracted he was by his anticipation of the bazaar.� He recalls that he "

had hardly any patience with the serious work of life. (12)"� The narrator

is embarrassed by the time he had wasted, and the ease with which he became

distracted.� The near total worthlessness of the bazaar at the time the

narrator arrives is an extreme example of vanity.� Not only does the

narrator feel ridiculed by the vanity involved in this situation, he also

feels driven by it.� The simple conversation he carries on with Mangan's

sister regarding the bazaar drives him to direct all his thoughts toward

the glory that will be the bazaar.� A sort of irony can be found in the

fact that something that he devoted all his "waking and sleeping thoughts"

to could turn out so foolish and ridiculous.

����� The last sentence of the story contains four words that deal with

the sense of sight: gazing, darkness, saw, and eyes.� The story both begins

and ends with darkness.� The first sentence tells that the street the

narrator lived on was "blind."� The narrator spends a great deal of time

watching Mangan's sister.� He also is very careful to keep "the blind

pulled down to within an inch of the sash so that I could not be seen. (4)"

The narrator feels anguish and anger when he is unable to watch Mangan's

sister due to his uncle's presence in the hall.� Ironically, it is in the

darkness that the narrator comes to see his true feelings, which again

leads him to feel anger and anguish.� The narrator's perception of the

darkness causes him to reflect on his own isolation and loneliness.

����� Many other circumstances cause the narrator to feel anguish and

anger.� "Enduring the gossip of the tea-table (17)" causes him to clinch

his fists and feel bitter.� His uncle's late arrival home also added to the

narrator's feelings of suffering.

����� When the narrator comes to the realization that vanity drives and

derides him, feelings of anguish and anger overwhelm him.� The narrator's

experience over the weeks preceding the bazaar, coupled with the

surroundings he faces leaves him with a painful empty feeling many adults

find in life.