Love: An Illusion Joyce's "Araby" Essay

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He realizes that this infatuation for Mangan's sister is an illusion, and simply a wistful idea that serves as escape from his discontentment: "I lingered before her stall, though I knew my stay was useless, to make my interest in her wares seem more real. Then I turned away slowly and walked down the middle of the bazaar" (Joyce *). He allows the coin to fall from his pocket, and in a denouement that indicates Joyce's message, he hears a voice calling "the lights are out" casting the upper part of the hall in utter darkness.

Norris (1995) sees the story in a more positive light as indicating merely a momentary shift towards disappointment but that 'light' will return at the end of the day. To me it seems as though Joyce wishes to indicate that the 'runt of the litter' may never have an opportunity to bathe in this light. Were the boy older or more attractive, the saleslady might have engaged him in conversation, too, and he might have received the vase; or were he to have possessed more money, he might have possessed his objective. As it is, James might be saying, the brunt of humanity is compelled to live in darkness, whilst only a few can afford to shatter that light.
The majority remain in anonymity, as the primary characters of the story are, constricted to live out their days in some gloomy Dublin town, at best to be called "Mangan's sister' and to end the plot, as the protagonist does, as imagining themselves to be merely some "creatures" suffocated by limitation.

As it is, at the end of the day, the boy cannot afford to kindle his light, and infatuation remains another cast coin. The town remains 'dark' and gloomy. Puny and drunk individuals will continue to populate the boy's existence. Small-minded religion and dying shabby priests will always remain a backdrop. Symbolism portrays the theme that love is an illusion that serves as endeavor to dispel the mendacity of everyday ugliness; its reality is merely another form of 'emptiness'.


Coulthard, a.R. "Joyce's Araby." Explicator 52.2 (1994): 97. Literary Reference Center Plus. EBSCO. Web. 19 Jan. 2011.

Joyce, J. "Araby " the Norton Intro to Literature 10th edition Ed. Booth & Mays *. 503-507.

Norris, Margot. "Blind streets and seeing houses: Araby's dim glass revisited."….....

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