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Lecture 18

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Western University
English 2307E
Krista Lysack

English 2307E Tuesday March 25 Lecture 18 James Joyce & Virginia Woolf Joyce - Araby Epiphany – The revelation that occurs through the substance of the everyday, banal world • Even the most banal world will have some sort of revolutionary insight • Often the climax of Joyce’s short stories, replacing action as the traditional narrative device • Does not affect closure – there is a feeling of incompleteness as a result of the epiphany • “The Feast of Epiphany” in the Christian calendar that celebrates the coming of the wise men to Bethlehem where the divinity of Jesus is revealed Araby • It is a coming-of-age story about the personal disillusionments of youth • It also addresses a wider disillusionment that is specific to Ireland at the turn of the century (the hard lessons that Ireland is learning about itself) • The story can seem like it isn’t about anything in particular (nothing of real significance seems to happen) o This is because Joyce wants to convey small moments, the minutia of everyday life 1) Post-Paradise (2278) • He begins by describing the street (a dead, quiet street), and the house on the street • The former tenant of the house was a priest, and Joyce talks about the books that the priest left behind • The priest had left all of his money to institutions and the furniture to his sister • They are a collection of random details, but they lead us to the backyard and the rusty bicycle pump, and a symbolic picture emerges • These images suggest something after paradise, everything the priest has left behind 2) Mangan’s Sister (2280) • A young boy is brought up by his aunt and uncle in a life that seems dark, narrow, and limited (there is a sense of a lack of light – a characteristic of this story) • He has dreamt up an alternative reality with the girl of his dreams, Mangan’s sister (the sister of one of his friends) • He describes his love for her as if it were the devotion of a knight for his lady (like a Medieval quest) • Finally he has a conversation with her (2280) • In one way Mangan’s sister seems beautifully lit like a Renaissance painting, but on the other hand, she has this other side (her petticoat is sticking out, she is like a seductive temptress) o We become aware that she is manipulative and is using the boy’s obsession to her favour o She wants the boy to go to Araby and buy something for her 3) Ordinary Dublin • James Joyce defers the trip to Araby by giving the boy responsibilities o It is an opportunity for us to see that the world is ordinary and banal where people go about their everyday lives • His quest is an obsession that insulates him from how life really is (and he likes it that way – he says that he is grateful to be blind) o The less that he realizes, the happier he is o However, his blindness isn’t going to last forever 4) Epiphany at Araby • The boy travels third class on the train (he is not very wealthy) to get to the market • When he arrives, Araby (the market) seems a lot like Mangan’s sister (it has two sides to it) o On the one hand it’s named Araby (a fanciful, Eastern, exotic destination), but the boy discovers that the place is already shutting down because he gets there late, and it’s not a very nice place (it is tawdry, commercial, cheap) • The coin that the boy uses to get into the bazaar makes us think about the girl’s silver bracelet, and the cost of getting in o In a biblical tradition, a silver coin is seen as what was traded in the betrayal of Jesus • The boy sees that he’s been sent there as an errand boy, and he has been used o He is not exceptional with an exceptional love, but is sent to a cheap warehouse to buy a trinket for a girl who doesn’t even like him (he is a chump) • The epiphany is his disillusionment o The lights go off, and the story ends in darkness and blindness, just as it began • One of the last things that happens is a conversation between an Irish girl working at the bazaar, and two Englishmen o It is
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