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Paralysis In The Araby And The Dead, By James Joyce

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James Joyce was a profound writer of the 20th century, who created Dubliners composed of short stories set in Dublin, Ireland. They were organized chronicling through a lifespan: beginning with younger characters in “An Encounter” and “The Araby” and then moving forward to an older married couple in “The Dead”. While the stories have diverse situations and characters there is a common theme of paralysis with a desire to escape. In all three stories a character will have a desire and face obstacles to get to it, however paralysis occurs which they will ultimately give up. In the short story “An Encounter” the narrator reflects on a childhood experience. He remembers being captivated by the stories of the ‘Wild West’ and the American detective …show more content…

She asks him if he plans to go to a bazaar called Araby. The girl will be away when the bazaar is held and won’t be able to go. The boy promises he will bring her something from Araby. The boy receives permission to attend the bazaar but when the day comes his uncle returns home late drunk. Finally the boy receives money for the bazaar but when he arrives at Araby it is starting to close. Whatever was left was too expensive for him to buy something nice. He cries in despair: "Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and …show more content…

The Irish are seen as hypocrites, spiritually and morally paralyzed by the nets of social norms and conventions. The best example of this is the main character – Gabriel. He cares only about himself and is obsessed with the impression he leaves on others, he has to have everything in control, and otherwise he doesn’t know how to act. Being an intellectual and overly educated, he doesn’t know how to converse with people of different social class and education. He’s paralyzed by his self-consciousness. He feels uncomfortable when someone is opposing his attitudes, and, instead of defending himself diplomatically as an intellectual, he runs away from conflicts. Gabriel is spiritually dead, as he’s unable to move forward and feel deep emotions, he’s walking around in circles like old Morkan’s horse. But, in the end of the story he receives the epiphany – revelation and disillusionment as he finds out that his marriage wasn’t based on true, passionate love. His wife, Gretta, knew a boy in her youth, Michael Furey, who loved her so much that he was ready to sacrifice his life for her. Realizing that he could never feel what the young boy felt, Gabriel starts to observe his life in a new way – all his beliefs and attitudes about life are shattered. He no longer knows who he really is or what his real worth is and importance; he becomes a stranger to himself.

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