Comparing and Contrasting Desires of Mathilde in ‘The Necklace’ and the unnamed narrator in ‘Araby’.
In both James Joyce’s “Araby” and Guy de Maupassant’s “The Necklace,” the reader is brought into the pursuits of desires of the protagonists. In “Araby”, the portrayal of desire reflects the need for spiritual stability and understanding in the confused religious society. In contrast, the desire in “The Necklace” reveals a person’s inner need of being loved and being seen as important in the social environment.
Both Mathilde and the unnamed narrator fantasize about their desires and they feel angry and restricted by their environment through the language used by the authors. In “Araby,” Joyce uses the words “dark” (Joyce 430) and “odors” (430) repeatedly to show how dark and stifling the narrator’s environment are. He also uses the words “clenching my fists” (433) and “I did not smile” (430) to show the narrator’s anger towards his uncle and his own environment. In “The Necklace,” Maupassant uses the words “nothing” (Maupassant 591) and “suffered” (591) repeatedly to show that Mathilde has nothing and there is not much to seek after in her environment and that she has suffered.
Through the description of the characters, the authors are able to show that the protagonists are not clear about their true desires in their hearts and they chose to place their desires on something physical. In “Araby,” the narrator places his desires on Mangan’s sister and finds himself feeling confused about his adoration for her. In “The Necklace,” Mathilde places all her thoughts on the dresses, the jewels and her fantasized rich man’s world. However the author reveals that she desires to please, to be envied, to be charming, to be sought after. The difference between the narrator in “Araby” and Mathilde is the narrator is aware of this confusion that he has even though he has no answer for it but Mathilde is unaware of her confusion. Probably due to no clarity of their desires, both characters are portrayed by the authors as passive. In “Araby,” the author uses sentences like “I thought little of the future” (Joyce 430) to show that the narrator is not keen to pursue more of his desires. In “The Necklace,” Maupassant uses phrases like “she let herself be married to a little clerk” (Maupassant 591) to show that though Mathilde wants to marry a rich man and enter into the world that she desires but she chooses to marry a clerk without resistance. However the authors use sentences to show the difference between the attitudes of the characters towards their pursuit of their desires. Joyce uses words like “I was thankful” (Joyce 431) to show that the unnamed narrator is very thankful about the little that he sees in his desires and he is not really seeking after his desires. On the other hand, Maupassant uses words like “Haven’t you any more” (Maupassant 593) to show that Mathilde is not satisfied with her current situation and she is still wanting more despite of the environment that she is in. Through the use of plots by the two authors, both characters have a turning point in their pursuit of desires. The unnamed narrator in “Araby” is more successful in having a better picture of his desires when he goes to Araby and receives the spiritual revelation “Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger” (Joyce 430). He begins to realize that he is like a fool and he has allowed his desires to be corrupted by his own vanity. On the other hand, the way Maupassant uses his words in his plot “Mme. Losiel now knew the horrible existence of the needy. She took her part, moreover, all of her sudden, with heroism,” “All was ended, for her,” “At the end of a week they had lost all hope,” “At last it is ended” (Maupassant 595) to show that Mathilde seems to have understood her true desires and that she is not stopping to...
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