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James Joyce’s Araby – Lack of Insight in Araby

Araby – Lack of Insight

Readers of “Araby” often focus on the final scene as the key to the story. They assume the boy experi­ences some profound insight about himself when he gazes “up into the darkness.” I believe, however, that the boy sees nothing and learns nothing–either about himself or others. He’s not self- reflective; he’s merely self-absorbed.

The evidence supporting this interpretation is the imagery of blindness and the ironic point of view of the narrator. There can seem to be a profound insight at the end of the story only if we empathize with the boy and adopt his point of view. In other words, we must assume that the young boy is narrating his own story. But if the real narrator is the grown man looking back at his early adolescence, then it becomes pos­sible to read the narrative as ironic and to see the boy as confused and blind.

The story opens and closes with images of blindness. The street is “blind” with an “uninhabited house… at the blind end.” As he spies on Mangan’s sister, from his own house, the boy intentionally limits what he is able to see by lowering the “blind” until it is only an inch from the window sash. At the bazaar in the closing scene, the “light was out,” and the upper part of the hall was “completely dark.” The boy is left “gazing up into the darkness,” seeing nothing but an inner torment that burns his eyes.

This pattern of imagery includes images of reading, and reading stands for the boy’s inability to understand what is before his eyes. When he tries to read at night, for exam­ple, the girl’s “image [comes] between him and the page,” in effect blinding him. In fact, he seems blind to everything except this “image” of the “brown-clad figure cast by [his] imagination.” The girl’s “brown-clad figure” is also associated with the houses on “blind” North Richmond Street, with their “brown imperturbable faces.” The houses stare back at the boy, unaffected by his presence and gaze.

The most important face he tries and fails to read belongs to Mangan’s sister. His description of her and interpretation of the few words she says to him can be seen as fur­ther evidence of his blindness. He sees only what he wants to see, the “image” he has in his mind’s eye.

Free Essays – Ode to a Nightingale

Ode to a Nightingale

One must be armed with a little knowledge of Greek mythology before taking on Keats; Hyperion, for example, is filled with allusions to Milton’s Paradise Lost. After reading and re-reading Ode on a Grecian Urn I decided that it would be best to only comment on Ode to a Nightingale (because I’m baffled with Keats). I found him very hard to understand. You can’t just sit down and read Keats like a Grimm’s fairy tale. Keats must be read with great scrutiny; otherwise, you’ll miss his point. I only pray that my readings and poor mind will give some sort of justice to Keats’s monumental work: “Ode to a Nightingale.”

The poem begins with Keats’s, with his complaint about humanity. He is filled with “heartaches and a drowsy numbness pains” and a feeling of forgetfulness as if “hemlock I had drunk.” Life has brought him to a state of forgetfulness and is bewildered to find a “light-winged Dryad [Nightingale] of the trees” that is “being too happy in thine happiness” and singing “of summer in full throated ease.” Keats would love to join the song of the Nightingale but has no way except through death, but even death is painful. Keats doesn’t want any more pain that life has to offer so he talks about a “vintage [wine] that hath been Cool’d a long age. . . With beaded bubbles winking at the brim” and he hopes that he “might drink, and leave the world unseen, And with thee fade away into the forest dim.” With the wine Keats hopes to “Fade far away. . . [from] The weariness, the fever, and the fret” of life. Man’s drink is his only escape from this life but then he writes that he doesn’t want to join nature and “fly to” the Nightingale “charioted by” wine but of poetic imagination. Because too much wine would bring pain in the morning and would only stop pain for a while. Once the drug has run its final course he would be in more pain then before. If only this world could fade away so that he could join the world of nature where he could be “too happy in thine happiness.” He wants to leave this world: “That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,” he wants to “Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget” everything.

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