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James Joyce's Araby - Araby as Epiphany for the Common Man Essay

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James Joyce's Dubliners - Araby as Epiphany for the Common Man


Joseph Campbell was one of many theorists who have seen basic common denominators in the myths of the world's great religions, Christianity among them, and have demonstrated how elements of myth have found their way into "non-religious" stories. Action heroes, in this respect, are not unlike saints. Biblical stories are, quite simply, the mythos of the Catholic religion, with saints being the heroes in such stories. The Star Wars film saga is, according to Campbell, an example of the hero's maturation via the undertaking of a great quest. Though it is a safe assumption that many of today's film makers are unconscious of the extent to which their narratives approach biblical parallels, Joyce spent his career turning seemingly simple stories into veiled recantings of biblical and mythical experience. "Araby" is a case-in-point. Like Luke Skywalker, the boy in "Araby" certainly reaches a maturation of sorts while undertaking a quest. Joyce takes accurate and mundane details of Dublin life and elevates them into a grand mythical pattern, targeting a moment of departure and awakening for the boy. Joyce's function in equating mundane experience with heroic experience is to propose that the potential for epiphany--the hero's realization of a certain truth--is not exclusive to saints alone, but exists in all people.

In order to so, Joyce must declare a relationship between the ordinary and the sublime. The ordinariness of the boy's story is apparent. On one level, it is a simple story about the kind of unrequited "puppy love" that strikes most boys of his age. The details of the setting come from real Dublin--North Richmond Street and Westland Row Station--and depict ...


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...t chooses to go to the temple, Orpheus chooses to go to Tartaros. Joyce made his own choice: to leave Ireland, and the result is a lifetime's body of work that demonstrates great insight. It is a good guess that this insight came from a realization Joyce himself may have had--his own epiphany, if you will--illustrating the extent to which the pattern of journey and realization found their way into his life as well as his work.

Work Cited

Joyce, James. Dubliners. New York: Washington Square Press, 1998.

Works Consulted

Schwarz, David R. Dubliners: Complete, Authoritative Text with Biographical and Historical Contexts, Critical History, and Essays from Five Contemporary Critical Perspectives. Ed. David R. Schwarz. Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press, 1994.

Werner, Craig Hansen. Dubliners: A Pluralistic World. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1988.


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