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Formal Analysis Of James Joyce'S "Araby' Essay, Formal Analysis Of James Joyce'S "Araby' The experience of the boy in James Joyce's "Araby' illustrates how people often expect more than everyday reality can provide and upon that realization, they often feel disillusioned and disappointed. By using dark and obscure references, Joyce gives a more vivid picture of the boy's reality of living in the gloomy town of "Araby.' He uses dark and gloomy references to create the mood or atmosphere, and then transitions to bright light references when discussing Mangan's sister, his fantasy love. The story is told through the eyes of the boy who is, in the beginning, young and na? ve and stuck in a world of darkness with only the light of Mangan's sister to give him a sense of joy. In "Araby' Joyce uses the images of light and dark to show how a young boy must confront reality. More importantly, Joyce uses light and dark in such a way that the darkness represents reality and the light represents fantasy. Throughout the story, darkness is used as the prevailing theme.
James Joyce's story begins at dusk, "when the short days of winter came dusk fell before we had eaten our dinners' (Joyce, 15) and continues through the evening, "I passed out on to he road and saw by the lighted dial of the clock that it was ten minutes to ten' (Joyce, 18). When Joyce describes the boys "career of play' (Joyce, 15), he uses descriptions such as: "dark muddy lanes… dark dripping gardens… dark odorous stables' (Joyce, 15). These are descriptions of how the boy's life really was, the reality of his life consisted of playing in dark and depressing streets. He uses such a dark and gloomy setting to be the young boys home because he wants the reader to see what a dull and boring life the boy leads. Though there is some mention of daytime "Araby,' Joyce usually reserves the reference of light for whenever the boy sees Mangan's sister. By becoming infatuated with Mangan's sister, the boy is able to escape his drab surroundings and loneliness into a fantasy romance, but all the while remains in darkness.
In other words, though he can escape the reality of his life by fanaticizing about Mangan's sister, the boy never changes the reality that is his life. The boy lives in a house in which "the former tenant, a priest, had died' (Joyce, 15) and one night he goes into the drawing room where the priest had died and says, "Some distant lamp or window gleamed below me. I was thankful that I could see so little. All my senses seemed to desire to veil themselves… I pressed my palms together until they trembled, murmuring "O love! O love!' (Joyce, 16). Again, we see the boy in a dark setting because darkness is the reality of his life and even though he is fantasizing about his love, he cant completely escape the darkness or reality. At this point in the story, the boy doesn't realize that his feelings for Mangan's sister stem from adolescent fantasy or a crush, so to say, that he has developed for her.
Light is used to create a fairy tale world of dreams and illusions. Joyce uses the imagery of light when describing Mangan's sister: "she was waiting for us, her figure defined by the light from the half-opened door' (Joyce, 16). The thought of Mangan's sister brings joy into the boys drab life and when she talks to him about the bazaar he describes "the light from the lamp opposite our door caught the white curve of her neck, lit up her hair that rested there…' (Joyce, 17). The way he describes her in that instance almost gives her a heavenly angelic presence with the light seeming to shine off her body as if she is a perfect vision of beauty. In his use of this imagery of the light, Joyce is trying to show the reader that the boy's judgment or view of things may be overly exaggerated. After seeing her figure defined by the light, the boy imagines that he will heroically bring her something back from the bazaar because she is unable to go, "If I go, I will bring you something' (Joyce, 17).
He is so taken aback by her presence that he doesn't even realize that he means nothing to her and that a gift will not change that status. The light that the boy sees Mangan's sister in is used to create a joyful atmosphere and at the same time show how na? ve the boy is to what is actually happening. He doesn't realize that he's being blinded by the light in the manner that all he sees is her beauty; he doesn't realize that she cares almost nothing for him in any sort of romantic sense. Darkness rarely is mentioned at the same time we see Mangan's sister through the boy's eyes because she is not real, at least not in the sense that the boy sees her. She is like an angel to him and almost perfect in every way which reasserts the idea that light represents mere fantasy in "Araby.' The ending of the story we see many references to the theme of light and darkness. When he arrives at the bazaar "nearly all the stalls were closed and the greater part of the hall was in darkness' (Joyce, 19), which is a reality in the boy's life because no matter how much he wants the bazaar to be bright and open, it is closing.
It is almost as if the light, the joy that he felt about Mangan's sister, was about to be turned off or is quickly dying out and all he has left is the reality of darkness in his drab life. Joyce uses the lights of the bazaar to illustrate the boy's confrontation with reality. It is at that moment, when he stands in the almost completely dark hall, that the boy finally realizes that life is not what he had dreamt it to be and he is left feeling angry at life and disillusioned with its reality. He was so blinded by her "light' that he didn't realize that it wasn't love that he felt but, again, it was simply an adolescent infatuation or fantasy romance. As we have seen, Joyce uses the contrast of light and dark throughout the story as a way to reinforce the main theme and characters. The dark disillusion the boy experiences is all part of the reality of growing up, as is the infatuation that he had for Mangan's sister and the light that he saw from fantasy.
The boy is no longer young and naive, he realizes that he was "a creature driven and derided by vanity' (Joyce, 19). He loved Mangan's sister so much that he was going to buy her a present to win her affections, but he didn't realize that he meant nothing to her and probably never would. Perhaps as he "gazed up into the darkness' (Joyce, 19), he experienced the painful empty feeling many adults find in life when a relationship ends. In the boys mind, he was having a romance with Mangan's sister, but he was essentially clueless the whole time as to how insignificant he really was in her eyes.
Through "Araby,' Joyce shows how we all get ideas about how things are or will be and fantasize about those dreams even if they are not real. Then, upon being confronted with the darkness of reality we feel disappointed with ourselves because things didn't work out as expected. Therefore, as Joyce started the beginning of the story in darkness he so ends it in darkness with a "voice call from one end of the gallery that the light was out' (Joyce, 19). The boy has no choice but to face the reality that is his life because his escape, his light, is gone: extinguished by darkness of reality.
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