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Shakespeare, Joyce, and Love

Guest Author - Dominique Jordan

The concepts of romantic and unrequited love and emotional maturity are really big concepts in Joyce’s short story “Araby” and Shakespeare’s play "A Midsummer Night’s Dream". Throughout these works, the main characters endure various experiences of love that ultimately challenge their perceptions on life and romance.

In "A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream", characters like Lysander, Hermia, Demetrius, and Helena all experience love in some form or another. The supernatural elements in the story bring Shakespeare’s words to life, filling the reader’s imagination with both vivid and colorful personalities and circumstances concerning romantic love. In “Araby”, the young boy in the story is absolutely infatuated with Mangan’s sister. He is so infatuated with her that his love for her is on the brink of obsession.

It is when he encounters his disappointment in the bazaar that the unnamed narrator becomes a totally different person. His perception on life becomes completely broken after he realizes that the ideals he conceived in his head are totally false and that Mangan’s sister does not return his feelings for her. The unnamed, young narrator is on the brink of discovering young adulthood as he clumsily travels from childhood into adolescence. But one thing that does tie these two works together is their exploration of the idea of love and how the main characters all deal with experiencing love and losing it.

In Shakespeare’s "A Midsummer Night’s Dream", love is a dominant theme in the play. Lysander vividly proclaims his love for Hermia by stating that people in love are always going to encounter obstacles. He says:

"Ay me! For aught that I could ever read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth
But either it was different in blood-"

This passage indicates Lysander’s true love and infatuation for Hermia, while at the same time showing how the notion of love is like a course that isn't easy. It doesn't “run smooth”. The overarching theme in this play is romantic love, which is clearly expressed, along with many instances of magical enchantment and misunderstanding. The misunderstandings in the play are caused by the mayhem of Puck (a mystical fairy), whose antics disillusion many of the characters and their love lives.

At a certain point it seems that all the humans, and Titania, are at the whim of the fairies Oberon and Puck. Near the end of the play, however, when Puck returns everyone to normal under Oberon’s orders, the reader discovers that the love between the characters of Helena and Demetrius and Lysander and Hermia were all ultimately destined to exist.

In “Araby,” the young narrator also discovers love. Like Lysander, his exploration with love is also not easy. His romantic obsession with Mangan’s sister fills his every action, yet he is afraid to talk to her. He is so infatuated with her that he can’t even concentrate in school because his every thought is filled with her. He clearly demonstrates his love at the beginning of the story when he says, “Every morning I lay on the floor in the front parlor watching her door. The blind was pulled down to within an inch of the sash so that I could not be seen. When she came out on the doorstep my heart leaped. I ran to the hall, seized my books and followed her.”

These few sentences alone describe the narrator’s infatuation with Mangan’s sister and how his fear causes him to resist talking to her about forming a romantic relationship.

Even though the narrator conceives false ideals about his crush, he experiences a great moment of epiphany near the end of the story. The young protagonist’s moment of great epiphany comes later in the story of “Araby.” As a matter of fact, it can be seen in the last paragraph when he is leaving the bazaar saying: “Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.” This sentence displays the confusion, anger, and contempt the narrator possesses for himself and it is a moment that seems to completely alter his perspective about life and romantic love.

In conclusion, it is important to recognize the significance of the themes of romantic love and emotional maturity in Shakespeare’s "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" and Joyce’s “Araby.” Both these works explore the notion of love and how the main characters deal with experiencing love and losing it. The fact that these characters experience various situations about the joys and pitfalls of romantic love is both fascinating and appealing because, through a few carefully crafted words, the authors of both these works display to the reader the complex and wonderful nature of the human existence.

I would definitely recommend these works. They are great pieces of literature that have been written by James Joyce and William Shakespeare, two of the greatest and most revered literary figures of all time. If you are a teen who is interested in writing and perfecting your craft, then don't pass up the chance to be inspired by these guys!

Disclaimer: I bought the collection of James Joyce's short stories called Dubliners and William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream with my own money at a local bookstore.

Click on the links below to purchase these books at Amazon.com.

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Content copyright © 2015 by Dominique Jordan. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Dominique Jordan. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact BellaOnline Administration for details.


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