Love is the ultimate goal of human life. It is sure that humans are born with “a love virus” on their gene code; if it weren’t so, why would people look for their soul mates even though there are so many sorrows and disappointments about love? People always pursue their own ideal love. It is said that maintaining present ongoing love is laborious, but there are people who never neglect the opportunity to start a new relationship.
There are people who are just doomed to calf love; those, who are reluctant to express their feelings being afraid to be rejected by the object of love and having little confidence, and those, who dream of erotic love. All of these types are present l in these three works of literature: “Araby” by James Joyce, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T. S. Eliot, and “To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell. In the short story “Araby,” the narrator is as a young boy who desires to have a relationship with his friend’s sister, Mangan.
However, Joyce didn’t want this love story to be a pure and adorable fairy tale; he puts several negative factors, which darken the narrator’s existence. For instance, the narrator is said to live with his aunt and uncle, not his parents, on “being blind” (636), and living street with “brown imperturbable faced” (636) neighbors; not as a fairy tale prince in a castle. This dark and sombre setting of the story creates a sense of hopelessness, and it also leads to the end of his love story. Though his life looks dark and hopeless, he sees his beloved girl as a hope “defined by the light” (637).
Even when he is walking through the market with his aunt, walking between “drunken men and bargaining women” and “barrels of pig’s cheeks” (637), he still daydreams about his friend’s sister. He also regards his love as a divine devotion while he murmurs “O love! O love! ” in “the back drawing-room in which the priest had died” (637). This girl seems to be ideal to the narrator. However, it turns out that his divine love toward Mangan’s sister is an unattainable dream. During the journey to the bazaar “Araby,” he interprets the disappointing circumstances as a sign of the hollowness of the ideal.
The word “fib” (640), which he hears from a meaningless conversation between a lady and two gentlemen, is the start of the awakening to reality. And he finally realizes his self-deception and he is disappointed when he hears “a voice call… that the light is out” (640). Through the darkness of the bazaar, the narrator realizes that his ideal love, like the dazzling image of the bazaar, is unattainable within the darkness, which is identified with his life. Similar to the story of “Araby,” “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is about an unshared love, and it also starts with dreary atmosphere, with a part of Dante’s “Inferno.
” The narrator describes the depressing images of “a soft October night” (664) as his internal emotions. The protagonist of the story, presumably Prufrock himself, also has unshared feelings towards certain woman. Nevertheless, there is a difference between the protagonists of this stories, and it is self-perception. While the protagonist of “Araby” doesn’t consider a possibility to reveal his feelings to the girl, Prufrock is in conflict with his internal self, whether to confess his feelings, or not; and he keeps agonizing over being rejected with “a formulated phrase”(665). In addition, he has extremely negative image of himself.
The narrator describes himself a timid man who measures his life “with coffee spoons” (664) and an old man with “a bald spot in the middle of head” (664) and thin arms and legs. This self-image weakens his willingness to confess his feelings and discourages from doing anything to change the present state of things. In the same time, not only he is afraid of being rejected by the woman, but he also fears to be ridiculed by others. In other words, comparing to the protagonist of “Araby” who doesn’t even recognize the need to reveal his love, Prufrock cannot confess because of lack of confidence.
At last, he disdains to his indecisiveness, comparing himself to Shakespeare’s Hamlet, though he realizes he is much more like fool than the tragic figure. Contrary to the narrator of “Araby” who is disappointed by the reality of the bazaar, his ideal love is destroyed by the collapse of his inner sense of shame. In other words, it seems that Prufrock emphasizes that ideal love starts from learning to love and respect yourself. Unlike the two protagonists described earlier, the narrator of “To His Coy Mistress is very self-confident. Though it is difficult to perceive his love as unshared, he also tries to win his lover’s love.
He seduces the woman he loves with eminent narrations and persuasion. At first he expresses his consistent love to her, and respect to her coyness, together with comprehension and generosity with the phrase “had we but world enough, and time” (658). And his ideal love pretends to be unalterable “ten years before the Flood” (659) which means Genesis, “till the conversion of the Jews” (659) which means the end of the world. The protagonist’s ability to tell about his feelings to his object of love is remarkably contrasting to the ones’ of “Araby” and “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.
” However, the narrator’s attitude goes distorted in progress. He says that they are chased by “time’s winged chariot hurrying near” (659) and “then worms shall try that long preserved virginity” (659) of the woman. Divergent to the eternal love he confesses in the beginning, his love transforms to chasing sensual pleasure. At the end of the poem the narrator reveals his gratification of flesh through the phrase “now let us sport us while we may” (659). The end of this love story is unknown, the author doesn’t tell us, whether she responds to the protagonist’s feelings, or no.
Through this three works of literature, which talk about love, we can see how different an ideal love can be; sometimes it defined as pure divine love, sometimes it begins from learning to love and respect yourself, and sometimes it is purely sensual. However, as the word “ideal” means “perfection”, which is possible to achieve only in the imaginary world, the ideal love cannot exist in reality. Despite of the disappointment and sorrow, caused by crushing the dreams of ideal love, people don’t stop searching for their soul mates, maybe because it is throughout the failures, and broken-hearts, that people can move on to the mature love.