Symbolism of the Paralysis of the Irish Church in “Araby”

Topics: Catholic Church, James Joyce, Irish people Pages: 4 (1364 words) Published: September 16, 2013
From a quick read through James Joyce’s “Araby,” one may think that it is a simple story about a boy and his first infatuation with a female. Upon a closer inspection, the religious symbolism becomes clearer as Joyce uses symbols throughout the story to reflect upon his own experiences and his own view of the Irish Church. As told in the text’s prologue, Joyce saw Ireland to be in a sort of spiritual paralysis during his early years, and an argument could be made that “Araby” was his way of expressing his views on this stagnant Irish Church. Due to different events that occurred in his childhood, James Joyce was turned off to and let down by the Catholic Church, causing him to take this resentful viewpoint of the church. Through different forms of symbolism in “Araby,” Joyce shows his disappointment and lack of faith in the Irish Church.

Before delving into the symbolism contained in “Araby,” the question of why Joyce feels so resentful toward the church must be raised. The prologue of the text states that “Joyce spent his adolescence in the 1890s hoping to get away from what he saw as Dublin’s spiritual, political, and intellectual paralysis” (“James Joyce” 140). Certain events of Joyce’s early life are also detailed in the prologue, such as James Joyce’s father, John Joyce’s close relations with Charles Parnell through the Irish nationalist movement. The Roman Catholic hierarchy pressured Parnell out of his position as leader of the faction following a controversial divorce, causing the faction to split into irrelevance. This event, and the death of Parnell, led young James Joyce to compose his first literary work, a poem, at the age of nine. This clearly shows the influence that this event had on his life. When the Irish Church repressed Parnell’s movement, John Joyce fell into alcohol and debt problems, causing chaos and upheaval in James Joyce’s adolescent years. This could be considered a main attribute to Joyce’s stagnant view of Irish religion and...

Cited: "James Joyce." The Longman Anthology of World Literature. Ed. David Damrosch. 1st ed. Vol. F. New York: Longman, 2004. 139-41. Print.
Joyce, James. "Araby." The Longman Anthology of World Literature. Ed. David Damrosch. 1st ed. Vol. F. New York: Longman, 2004. 142-45. Print.
"Selected Essays on James Joyce 's "Araby"" The Literary Link. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. .
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