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James Joyce Comparison Essay on Araby and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

By marselena Nov 20, 2013 834 Words
April 13, 2013
“The Realization”
James Joyce wrote various stories one which was Araby and the novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. In both stories the main character experiences an epiphany. In Araby the young boy realizes he is only in love with Mangan’s sister because of her image and not her personality as he knows nothing of it. In the preceding story, Stephen Dedalus questions whether to become a priest, but decides on writing upon observing a beautiful woman in the water. Both protagonists experience an epiphany within their lives.

In the short story, Araby, the young boy who lived on North Richmond Street spent his time waiting for the sight of his friend Mangan’s sister. He was stunned by her beauty and watched her from a distance secretly, “Every morning I lay on the floor in the front parlour watching her door. … When she came out on the doorstep my heart leaped. I ran to the hall, seized my books and followed her. … This happened morning after morning”(lines 32-37). It is clear that the boy believes in “love at first sight,” but does not bother to do much about it. He has hardly ever spoken to the girl, but he is blinded by her looks. After being asked about going to Araby, he can no longer think straight as he waits for the day to come. For instance, “At night in my bedroom and by day in the classroom her image came between me and the page I strove to read”(lines 74-75). The epiphany however, occurs when the boy is at Araby and finds no interest in it at all, “I lingered before her stall, though I knew my stay was useless, to make my interest in her wares seem the more real”(lines 154-155). That is when the young boy experiences his epiphany. He had finally realized that he only loved her beauty, and knew nothing of her. For example, “Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger”(lines 159-160). He had gone to an extent of begging to go to Araby and getting on a train, only to find it was of no importance to him. Towards the end the young boy feels foolish because he had let a woman’s appearance get the best of him.

In the novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Stephen Dedalus is pondering on whether to become a priest when he comes upon a beautiful woman, a sudden change of thought and he knows he will live his life as a writer instead. For example, “Her image had passed into his soul for ever and no word broken the holy silence of his ecstasy. Her eyes had called him and his soul had leaped at the call”(lines 1-2). The woman causes the epiphany without even trying. Stephen does not know her, but he is astonished by the way her body is, “A wild angel had appeared to him, the angel of mortal youth and beauty, an envoy from the fair courts of life, to throw open before him in an instant of ecstasy the gates of all the ways of error and glory”(lines 3-6). He begins to see everything differently, he wants to write instead, “His soul was swooning into some new world, fantastic, dim, uncertain as under sea, traversed by cloudy shapes and beings”(lines 20-21). Stephen feels joy with the thought of her. He wishes to recreate things with words and is happy with his decision. No longer lost and confused, he has made up his mind.

Since there is very little information about both characters, it is difficult to figure them both out. However, both the boy and Stephen are moved by the appearance of two different women. The young boy wishes to make her smile, and wants her to know him; therefore, he does all that he can to go to Araby just for her. Stephen, on the other hand, finds no interest in getting to know the woman he is just amazed by her beauty. The young boy’s epiphany occurs throughout the entire story, however mainly when he has finally realized he is silly for all that he did for a girl he knew nothing about except her looks. Stephen’s epiphany happens in the beginning when he comes across the woman, he realizes he wants to write instead of become a priest. They both had different emotions after their realization, the young boy felt angered while Stephen felt delighted. Both characters are astonished by the women’s appearance and their epiphany’s made them see some sort of truth in their lives. The moral within the stories is that our eyes can be the cause of a drastic change. It is not only what is outside that counts, but also what is on the inside that is more important.

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