When analysing a short story like “Araby” by James Joyce, it is also important to have an overview of the language and imagery employed by the author. The main feature of the language used in “Araby” is that it is highly descriptive and rather complex. Sentences are often long including enumerations and descriptive details, but they are combined with short dialogues which give the story a certain dynamism.

The author’s choice of words reflects the tone of the story, which is pessimistic. Many times, the narrative focuses on negative or tensed states and the gloominess of the setting.



Imagery is usually created through the use of descriptive adjectives and adverbs, showing how things/people look like, the way the characters act, react and move. These descriptive words form various figures of speech such as epithets, metaphors or similes.


In what follows, we will focus on:

  • Enumerations
  • Similes
  • Metaphors
  • Personification
  • Repetitions


The text abounds in epithets which render the narrator’s perspective on his surroundings and the girl he loves. Here are two examples in which epithets are employed:



Repetitions are occasionally employed, to bring the focus on a certain point of interest. For example, the narrator repeats the world love to illustrate his inner struggle with his feelings towards Mangan’s sister:



James Joyce’s text employs several symbols which make the short story open to several interpretations.

The colour brown has a symbolic function in the story, as both the houses and the girl’s skin share this trait. The use of this colour can be associated with the title, suggesting the Arab influences in Dublin. Another interpretation would be that Dubliners lead gloomy lives and take on a dark, pessimistic perspective.


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