On the Images of Araby and Their Symbolic Meaning


东方教育 2017年11期


1. Introduction

As one of the most talented writer of the"Stream of Consciousness"school, the Irish writer James Joyce suffered from an eye disease and lived all his life on the verge of poverty. However he was devoted to his work as a writer. People have known James Joyce by his most famous novel Ulysses, which can be regarded as the representation of the "Stream of Consciousness" school and one of the most grand novel in the 20th century. In fact, Joyces first important short story collection was Dubliners, all realistic and impressionistic studies of the life, thoughts, dreams, aspirations and frustration of diverse inhabitant in the Irish capital. In this collections, Joyce also expressed his attitude towards Irish paralysis and this revealed his nationalism deeply, just as what he said . Araby is the third one in the collection and is also the last one of the childrens period, in which Joyce used lots of symbols to express the theme.

Symbolism is a literature term which is original from the word "Symbolon" in Greek. Symbolism refers to a way of choosing representative symbols in line with abstract rather than literal concept-representations allow. As a gifted writer, Joyce is expert in applying symbolism in his work. By using symbolism to turn the abstract thought into concrete images, Joyce instructs readers to stir up their imagination and emotion to dig out the further meaning.

2. On the images of Araby and The Symbolic Meaning

The title of Araby firstly embodies the use of symbolism and its implication is very meaningful. That Joyce uses Araby for a bazaar means his superb technique and his inventive mind. There is no doubt that Araby is the key for the readers to understand the whole article and its also a clue to read between the lines. Araby is a name of a bazaar, which has the same root with Arab. Arab is a typical place that has the Orient culture and for the Westerners it is a totally different and mysterious country. And this word is very popular in the 19th century in Europe. After Napoleon conquered Egypt, the Europeans were fascinated by the mysterious world and wanted to uncover the veil of this mysterious world. The name of the bazaar make it Arabic and vague. And it also implies that the little boys indistinct feeling for yearning for and pursuing love. At first Joyce describes the psychological activities of the little boy that how the boy longing for “Araby”. However when the boy finally arrives there, only to find “Araby” is a vulgar bazaar and the contrast between the image and the reality make the little boy so disappointed and even wants to escape from the bazaar. That the true symbolic meaning of “Araby” is escape. Finally, the boy realizes the great disparity between the reality and his image. In his image ”Araby” is a holy place for love, but in real world its worldly and superficial like other markets. Here “Araby” is the symbol of the cruel real word. In this world the boy does not know what to do and can not find the road suitable for himself and his romantic images about love is broken by the cruel reality. From this we know that the bazaar “Araby” is not an ideal and holy place but a dirty and low market. In fact the title “Araby” has revealed the gist of the whole article and given the hint foreshowing the later developments of the story.


In Araby, Joyce finds the rich implications and the association of these things from his acute sight and he endows his thoughts to the specific things and makes these become the images in his novels. He also uses to expose the thesis of the article. These images reflect the life scene of Irish at that time, and readers can have a deeply oppressive and smothered feeling towards this corrupted city.


[1]Kenner Huge. Dublin's Joyce. Boston: Beacon Press, 1962.

[2]Chadwick, Charles. Symbolism. London: Methuen & CoLtd, 1971:3,14.


Satiric Art in Gulliver’s Travels
An Analysis of "The Open Boat" from the Perspective of Naturalism
A Study of the Feminism in Mary Shelly`s Frankenstein