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‘Araby’ is one of the many short stories that were written by James Joyce between 1904 and 1906, although they got published in 1914. In the short story ‘Araby,’ James Joyce portends many of his themes that later are the focus of his short story. James Joyce is considered to be one of the greatest novelists of the twentieth century. The story is about a young disillusioned boy who is the narrator. The tale focuses on fantasy, darkness and, to some extent, on despair and enlightenment; and it ends showing the spectacular insight of James Joyce. This paper will analyze James Joyce’s short story ‘Araby’ by indentifying a recurring and discussing it. The paper will employ the use of direct quotes and paraphrases to support its claims.

Recurring Themes

The recurring theme in the short story is epiphany. This is a Greek word that has the meaning of revelation, and can be seen in the character Stephen Dedalus, who is occupied by epiphanies. Epiphany generally signifies the presence of God in the world but here it refers to the spiritual state of one (or more) of the characters (Richard).  ‘By epiphany he meant a sudden spiritual manifestation, whether in the vulgarity of speech or of gesture of in a memorable phrase or the mind itself’ (Greg). Here it means that Joyce saw epiphany, like Stephen, as an important building block of his fiction short story. This epiphany serves as the moment at which the character will be able to realize that his/her figment of imagination, that has been operating, is not only false but also misleading. As the protagonist of the story, nears the end of his quest and is almost in the verge of buying a gift for Mangan’s sister. However, he changes his mind, and at this point in the ‘Araby’, the narrator does the same. As he is leaving the hall, the narrator says that while gazing up into darkness, he saw himself as a creature derided and driven by sanity and his eyes burned with anger (Araby). ‘[g]azing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity’ (Grace).

A recurrent theme of darkness seems to weaves itself through the short story. Towards the end of the story, Joyce’s symbols seem to converge. The narrator starts to see Mangan’s sister in a different way; as a dull normal English girl and not the image of the virgin. The light, in which he used to view her, seems to have met the darkness of the bazaar. She gives rise to all major actions in the story. Another part of this theme is when the boy tries to hide his shadow from his uncle.  The narrator’s infatuation with his sister’s friend makes him hide in the shadows. He only peers from a secluded distance and spies on the ‘brown figure.’ The woman in this case is the light; who is his fantasy and the one who will lift him out of his darkness. When the boy sees the bazaar, he sees an opportunity to win the woman of his dreams; he sees it as a way to illuminate the candle in her eyes. The boy fantasizes about her:  how he will bring her a gift from the bazaar and how this present will assist to capture her heart (scribd.com). The recurring theme of darkness is used to engage the reader to understand the transformation that the narrator is undergoing.

Joyce’s story must have been taken from his own life, while the aunt in the story depicts Joyce’s parents., Identical characters like in the ‘Araby’ are used in the author’s later fictions. Many people see ‘Araby’ as the portrait of the artist when he was younger.

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