Orientalism in James Joyce's Araby

Umme Salma


James Joyce's Araby is essentially a teenage love story. Yet its texture, woven with the Orientalist metaphorical imageries, Eastern dictions bazaar and Araby and reference to the historical Araby bazaar, likens it to a latent Orientalist discourse. Orientalism divides the story into two parts. In one part, the Irish boy's fascination to the Orient is reflected and the other part is the negation of those popular ideas. The first one refers to Irish Orientalism that in the nineteenth and twentieth century offered Irish people an alternative cultural identity different from English Colonialism. Yet this identification of the Orient with a romantic refuge at first and then contrastively with a place of degeneration, depravity and despair explains James Joyce's ambivalence towards the matter of the Orient. Joyce, using the Orient as a tool to orient the boy to the reality of his existence in drab Dublin, teaches the young boy that escapist fascination to the Orient is a vain vision for an Irish. My article focuses on this dissolution of Irish Orientalism into the English-French Orientalism, a paradoxical representation of the Orient, and hopefully will revitalize the understanding of the story.

Keywords: Irish Orientalism, Joyce's ambivalence to the Orient, Orientalism,

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