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Comparing Death in Araby and The Metamorphosis

Death in Araby and The Metamorphosis

Many readers have commented on the contrast of light and darkness in the story Araby by James Joyce. Perhaps the death of the priest in Araby adds to the “darkness” that the boy experiences when he is thinking about Mangan’s sister, as contrasted with the light he experiences when he is actually in her presence.

It is interesting that the death of the priest does not become so “dark” until Mangan’s sister is introduced. In the first scene where the boy visits the priest’s old room, he rummages around and finds some treasures, including “paper-covered books,” and “the late tenant’s rusty bicycle pump.” There is no sense of gloom here, in fact, the boy seems to be having fun exploring and discovering things, and reminisces about how the priest “had been a very charitable priest” in a rather disconnected way.

But later, after the boy’s crush on Mangan’s sister has been introduced, this dead priest’s room takes on a very different character. This is the place where the boy retreats on a stormy night while his emotions are churning inside him. It is no longer a place to explore, but has taken on almost a “sacred” character. Here the boy experiences his most impassioned moment of “strange prayers and praises,” pressing the palms of his hands together “until they trembled, murmuring: ‘Oh Love! Oh Love!’ many times.” You can almost feel the presence of the dead priest in the room on this “dark rainy evening” as the boy is praying, in a way that you would not feel his presence if he were merely on vacation.

The fact that he has died here in this very room adds to the drama and it intensifies the boy’s emotions. Maybe the boy was thinking that the priest was watching him from he…

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…ere really what the family needed to start living their own lives.

In this story the “deaths” of Gregor serve to make obvious where he really stands in the family, and what the real situation is. If he had not turned into a bug and ultimately died, neither he nor the family would have ever known that what he was doing for them wasn’t really helping them. Gregor’s deaths also showed that the family didn’t really care that much about him, and weren’t that grateful for his sacrifices. It brings out the contrast between what Gregor was willing to do for his family (die) and what his family was willing to do for him (not very much). They wanted to get rid of him once his condition started demanding too much from them.

Gregor’s death turns him into a sort of tragic hero. If the story ended differently, I think readers would feel less sympathetic towards him.

The Deeper Meaning of Frost’s Tuft of Flowers

The Deeper Meaning of Frost’s Tuft of Flowers

Robert Lee Frost published his first book of poems entitled A Boy’s Will in 1913. From this collection come one of several poems that critics and anthologists alike highly regard as both lyrical and autobiographical in nature. One such critic, James L. Potter, in his book entitled [The] Robert Frost Handbook, explains “[that] Frost wore a mask in public much of the time, concealing his personal problems and complexities from his reading and listening audiences” (Potter 48). Through “The Tuft of Flowers,” a kind of lyrical soliloquy, Frost “half-intentionally” reveals his personal views on the theme of fellowship (Potter 48).

In the first of three transitions the speaker, most likely a farmer, comes out to a field just after dawn to turn the freshly mown grass to dry in the sun. The farmer then searches for the mower, but finds he is all alone. Here, the reader senses the loneliness of the scene. Frost’s use of figurative language such as the “leveled scene” and “an isle of trees” gives evidence to the speaker’s mood of pessimism and loneliness as the speaker implies he must be “as he had been–alone” (4-5, 8). Potter writes that Frost “was often riddled with doubts aboutÖhis role in relation to his family and friends, and even his poetic powers” (Potter 47). We, too, get the sense the speaker (Frost) is suggesting that throughout his life he feels alone quite often and longs for the kinship of his fellow human being.

While the speaker yields to this pessimistic train of thought, a “bewildered butterfly” passes by “on noiseless wing” and ushers in the second transition of the poem (12). Frost uses the scene with the butterfly in the next several couplets to su…

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…, Potter writes:

The shared happiness represented here… seem to be more than simply a personal relationship between two [farmers]; rather it is a general benevolence which… makes for a good world. [This] feeling is shared by the two mowers in “The Tuft of Flowers.” The speaker, finding a tuft of flowers left deliberately by a previous mower, senses “a spirit kindred to [his] own” and concludes that “men work together… / Whether they work together or apart.”(Potter 89)

Upon closer reflection, we the reader could generalize the poem’s meaning to indicate humanity’s need to be a part of society outwardly, and inwardly keep the fields of our hearts free from the things that would choke out “The Tuft of Flowers.”

Work Cited

Frost, Robert. “The Tuft of Flowers.” Robert Frost Handbook. Ed. James L. Potter. University Park: Penn State UP, 1980.

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