“Araby” tells the story of an adolescent boy’s initiation into adulthood. The story is narrated by a mature man reflecting upon his adolescence and the events that forced him to face the disillusioning realities of adulthood. The minor characters play a pivotal role in this initiation process. The boy observes the hypocrisy of adults in the priest and Mrs. Mercer; and his vain, self-centered uncle introduces him to another disillusioning aspect of adulthood. The boy’s infatuation with the girl ultimately ends in disillusionment, and Joyce uses the specific example of the boy’s disillusionment with love as a metaphor for disillusionment with life itself. From the beginning, the boy deludes himself about his relationship with Mangan’s sister. At Araby, he realizes the parallel between his own self-delusion and the hypocrisy and vanity of the adult world.
From the beginning, the boy’s infatuation with Mangan’s sister draws him away from childhood toward adulthood. He breaks his ties with his childhood friends and luxuriates in his isolation. He can think of nothing but his love for her: “From the front window I saw my companions playing below in the street. Their cries reached me weakened and indistinct and, leaning my forehead against the cool glass, I looked over at the dark house where she lived.” The friends’ cries are weak and indistinct because they are distant emotionally as well as spatially. Like an adult on a quest, he imagines he carries his love as if it were a sacred object, a chalice: “Her image accompanied me even in places the most hostile to romance…. I imagined that I bore my chalice safely through a throng of foes.” Even in the active, distracting market…
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…se and that he was someone else.
His disillusionment with love is then extended to life in general. Seeing the last rays of hope fading from the top floors of Araby, the boy cries: “I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.” At last he makes the connection—by deluding himself, he has been hypocritical and vain like the adults in his life. Before these realizations he believed that he was driven by something of value (such as purity of love), but now he realizes that his quest has been in vain because honesty, truth, and purity are only childish illusions and he can never return to the innocence of childhood.
Joyce, James. “Araby.” The Norton Introduction to Literature, Shorter Eighth Edition. Eds. Jerome Beaty, Alison Booth, J. Paul Hunter, and Kelly J. Mays. New York: W.W.Norton.
Shakespeare’s Othello – Iago has No Conscience
Iago of Othello
Iago has no conscience. He is an angry man and is happy to take down everyone around him to get what he wants: revenge. It is in Act 1, Scene 3, that he devises his evil plan. Here we can see inside Iago’s mind. It is easy to see that his primary motivation is jealousy: jealousy that Othello may have slept with his wife, and jealousy that Othello chose Cassio over him. As he plots his revenge, it is clear Iago respects and cares for no one.
(Act 1, Scene 3, 378-381) I hate the Moor,
And it is thought abroad that ‘twixt my sheets
H’as done my office. I know not if’t be true,
But I, for mere suspicion in that kind,
Will do, as if for surety.
Iago states here he suspects Othello may have slept with his wife. He is not sure of this, but declares that surety is not necessary. I believe Iago is not so much concerned with his wife being unfaithful, but that he can’t stand the thought that it may have been with Othello.
(Act 1, Scene 3, 381-382) He holds me well;
The better shall my purpose work on him.
This shows how conniving Iago is. He will use the fact that Othello trusts him to get his revenge.
(Act 1, Scene 3, 383-385)
Cassio’s a proper man. Let me see now;
To get his place, and to plume up my will
In double knavery. How? How? Let’s see.
Here “double knavery” means to pull off one stunt and obtain two desired outcomes – to get Cassio’s position (which he felt he deserved) and to make himself appear respectful for his ego’s sake.
Another benefit of getting Cassio’s position is he can be closer to Othello. When he accomplishes this, he will be able to obtain even more trust from Othello and begin manipulating him to believe that Cassio and Desdemona are having an adulteress relationship:
(Act 1, Scene 3, 386-389)
After some time, to abuse Othello’s ears
That he is too familiar with his wife.
He hath a person and a smooth dispose
To be suspected – framed to make women false.
Iago knows that Othello is a man of integrity and therefore, believes others to be so until proven differently. Iago has no respect for integrity and consequently, has no respect for Othello. This is obvious in his reference to Othello as an “ass” which can “tenderly be led by th’ nose.