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The Analysis of “Araby” by James Joyce and “The Man of the Crowd” by Edgar Allan Poe
In both of the stories, the authors reveal the problems that people encounter in their everyday life. He uses symbols to reveal various themes in their stories. Edgar Allan Poe goes further to personalize houses and streets to pass the intended message. Both of the writers have isolation and loneness as a theme. The other common theme in the two stories is poverty, which is especially developed in the story of Edgar Allan Poe.
At the beginning of “Araby”, James Joyce uses the story of a boy who goes to a bazaar to get a gift for the girl he had just met and had a crush on. Deep in his heart, the boy hopes that this event would alleviate his miserable life.
The author uses the young boy’s life to reveal the story of the lack of control and isolation. The boy seems happy at the beginning of the story and at the time when he was playing outside with a friend. Later on, the boy’s mood and emotions changed, and he became depressed. The story portrays how the boy got isolated by many circumstances. When the priest who lived with the boy died, the boy described the air as musty and the waste basket as littered. When he was alone in the room, he probably could have been very lonely and depressed (Joyce 57).
From the conversation between the boy and the aunt, it can be concluded that they do not have a good relationship. When the uncle arrived drunk later in the evening, the aunt probably was mad at him. In this context of the story, it was revealed that the aunt and the uncle do not have a good relationship. The cold situation in the family could have been really difficult for the boy. He could have felt alone and unwanted (Joyce 45).
When he boy left for bazaar, it was late at night and dark. He described the train he used to be very deserted and moving very slowly. When the train passed a crowd of people, the porters pushed them away, and the boy said that the train was for the bazaar. That act symbolizes alienation.
When the boy got to the bazaar, he found that it was almost closing for the night. When he went to the shop, the lady behind the stall, who was talking to a couple of people, ignored and belittled him. When he was leaving the bazaar, he described how dark things were. He described himself as a creature driven by vanity .He was angry at himself for being fooled by Mangan’s sister since he did not know her well and they had talked only once. The theme of isolation and control are linked, because the boy’s lack of control for his life is due to the emotional distance that he is experiencing.
Isolation is also portrayed in “The Man of the Crowd”, the story of a man who observes people in the crowd as they walk in the street. Though the narrator does not have a conversation with the people in the crowd, he observes them and tells us what he thinks of them. The The distance between the narrator and the crowd shows the cold nature of urban dwellers in general. In the author’s observation of the city, the old man and Poe’s distance reflect the isolation and individuality loss that inhibits the city. The people are isolated from their fellow city dwellers. The author describes the beggars and the poor girls in such a way that it reveals that the city is cold and uncaring. The sick were in search of some consolation, and the girls returned into their empty homes. The lack of concern that the people have highlights the isolation that exists between them.
When the author describes the crowd, he seats separately from it behind a glass window. This act of seating behind the window is the sign of isolation, and he is willing to seat there all alone and be fully isolated from people (Poe 122).
Isolation is also portrayed from the way people talk to each other and gesticulate. There were so many people together, yet they chose not to talk to each other.
While Poe’s was observing people, one person caught his attention. He was an old drunk man whom he scrutinized deeper than all the other people in the crowd. At some point, it reveals that the old man who disappeared in the crowd is a genius for deep crime. The narrator says that the old man never wanted to be alone therefore it became hard for Poe to study the kind of a man he was. Poe gave up on studying the old man (Poe 45).
The second theme that is common between the two stories is the theme of poverty. The old man in the crowd was wearing a dagger and a diamond. A dagger is the symbol of crime and the narrator associates the man with crime. Poverty is also revealed by the filthy clothes that the old man was wearing, and the narrator also says that at that part of London everything had the impression of the deplorable poverty. In my point of view, the old man could be associated with crimes or theft, especially considering the fact that he had a diamond and apart from his clothing, there were no signs of poverty. The old man could have used the dagger in order to steal the diamond. At some time, the old man disappeared in the crowd revealing that he was scared since some people could see him and recognize. He does not want to be seen. The fact that the old man was used to reveal both poverty and crime concludes that the narrator wanted to reveal the connection of the two.
The author uses the struggle of the young boy who dealt with the challenges that he was facing while growing up in the poor environment to portray poverty. The author uses conflict between the boy, the family and the social class to show how poverty has tarnished the dreams of such a young boy. The conflicts and the cold relationship that existed between the aunt and the uncle illustrated the hardship that the boy was facing. When he met the girl, he immediately became obsessed. He agreed to buy her a gift at the bazaar when he attended the fund-raising. Unfortunately, the boy did not manage to get there on time, because he had no money. He had to wait for the uncle who came drunk later in the evening. The author is using these to symbolize the hardships that the young boy was having (Poe 177).
The boy lived a life of an orphan with the aunt and uncle who worked hard to survive. When the eager boy reminded the uncle about the bazaar, the uncle was busy at work. He was fussing and he could not find the hat brush, and he answered the young boy coldly. The family did not understand the hardship that the boy could be going through.
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