Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Review of James Joyce’s Book, a Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Stephen Dedalus’ Quest for Self-Determination
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce is a semi-autobiographical account of Joyce’s childhood and upbringing. The novel is heavily involved in the character study of Stephen Daedalus, a young Irishman whose struggles with growing up are portrayed in the novel. There are many large events that shape Stephen’s life, many of which occur in the closing section of each of the novel’s five chapters. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a story of Stephen Dedalus’ quest for self-definition, which can be seen through an epiphany scene at the end of every chapter.
Chapter One ends with Stephen learning important lessons about punishment and heroism. Stephen’s thoughts about crime and punishment are first introduced when boys in his year begin to talk about some boys who were caught smugging (committing homosexual behaviour) in the square. At first Stephen doesn’t believe the story (“He wanted to ask somebody about it” (2337)) but soon turns his mind to the boy’s punishment. Parallels between the smugging boys punishment and the political situation in Ireland can be drawn in this case, as the boys ask “[are we] to be punished for what other fellows did?” (2338) and, if they are, they “won’t come back. … Let us get up a rebellion.” (2338) Stephen is further taught about punishment when he is wrongly punished in class for being a “lazy little schemer” (2342). This scene draws an interesting parallel to later in the novel: now Stephen is punished for something he didn’t do, while later he is afraid he will be punished (but never is) by God for sins he does commit. Stephen’s unfair punishment leads him to go talk to the head of the school, after which he is celebrated by his schoolmates: “They made a cradle of their locked hands and hoisted him up among them and carried him along till he struggled to get free.” (2347) This marks the first time Stephen is portrayed as a heroic character, and specifically a moral hero, which sets him on his path of morality. Despite being seen as a hero, Stephen still feels burdened (“till he struggled to get free”), and this heroism does not make him less of a social outsider. Overall the ending of Chapter One sets Stephen on the path he will travel the rest of the novel, and emphasizes him beginning to find his moral grounds.
Chapter Two ends with Stephen dancing with worldly pleasure and sin. The final section of Chapter Two has Stephen cashing in his literary prize money (whose value, £33, alludes to Christ’s age at crucifixion: 33 years old) and then going on a spending spree: “He bought presents for everyone, overhauled his room, wrote out resolutions, marshalled his books up and down their shelves, pored upon all kinds of price lists” (2372) Through all of this spending Stephen is trying to purchase a happy and harmonious family, but all this leads to is him mixing up spiritual and worldly matters in his mind, coming close to committing the sin of simony (which, interestingly, is similar to his father’s name Simon). Stephen continues this mix up through his incapability to see the incompatibility between his actions and his beliefs. He states that he “cared little that he was in mortal sin, that his life had grown to be a tissue of subterfuges and falsehood.” (2373) Stephen fantasizes about both the Virgin Mary and prostitutes in the ending of this chapter, showing again the confusion in his mind. Clarity begins to come to him in the final line of the chapter, as he “[feels] an unknown and timid pressure, darker than the swoon of sin, softer than sound or odour” (2375) when he finally gives in to the physical pleasures of a prostitute. The ending of this chapter continues to define Stephen’s moral standing, and the final line indicates to the reader that Stephen may soon begin to realize the sins he has committed and their degree of wrongness.
The ending of Chapter Three is one of the most major turning points for Stephen Dedalus in the novel. He begins to see the sin and error in his ways and begins to try and receive forgiveness for the sins he has committed. The final section of this chapter begins with Stephen beginning to retreat into himself: “He went up to his room after dinner in order to be alone with his soul” (2396). With this action and those that follow, Stephen changes from a passive listener to the sermon of the last section to an active participator in his spiritual fate. Stephen begins to question his past actions, asking himself “Could it be that he, Stephen Dedalus, had done those things?” (2397) and he realizes that “He had sinned. He had sinned so deeply against heaven and before God that he was not worthy to be called God’s child.” (2397) At this realization Stephen goes to find a chapel at which to confess, as he feels unable to confess to his own priests. He admits that it has been “A long time” (2401) since he had last confessed, and the priest tells Stephen to “Pray to our mother Mary to help [him]” (2401-2402) After confession, Stephen makes a decision that he thinks at the time will affect the rest of his life: he decides to become a priest: “Another life! A life of grace and virtue and happiness! It was true. It was not a dream from which he would wake. The past was past. –Corpus Domini nostri. The ciborium had come to him.” (2403) Stephen’s decision to fully embrace a religious lifestyle shapes his actions in the rest of the novel, and this epiphany perhaps has the largest effect out of all the transforming experiences shown in Portrait of the Artist.
In the final section of Chapter Four, Stephen’s life begins to take a different turn as he muses on his past, the present, and his future. Women continue to be a force in Stephen’s life, but the Virgin Mary becomes less of a force on his thoughts, as he only looks at her coldly as he passes by a statue of her on his walk. His focus instead switches to that of a girl standing before him in the stream and focuses heavily on her looks: “Her thighs, fuller and softhued as ivory, were pared almost to the hips where the white fringes of her drawers were like featherings of soft white down.” (2418) Stephen admits that “He [is] alone. He [is] unheeded, happy and near to the wild heart of life.” (2418) As Stephen’s classmates call out to him with Greek sounding versions of his name, he changes his thoughts from Christianity toward paganism. This can be symbolized by Stephen’s focus shifting from his first name (from St. Stephen) to his last name (Daedalus, a Greek god). Stephen’s mission toward self-determination has not been able to be completed through Christianity, which is a possible reason for his faith seeming to wane at this time. During this section Stephen also prophesizes on his own life’s past, present, and future, and attempts to fit them all together. Through this Stephen realizes that the art he creates will not only be beautiful, but it will be an entire existence onto itself. Stephen decides that he will not only create art, he will create himself as he becomes an artist.
The final chapter of Portrait of the Artist ends with Stephen becoming the narrator as the reader experiences the final parts of the story through his journal entries. Stephen’s quest for an identity and self-definition is emphasized by this change to journal entries. For the first time in the novel, Stephen is not quoting anyone or trying to emulate the voice of another. The writing in this section is also less polished than in previous sections, showing how the reader is finally seeing Stephen’s raw voice. The ending of this chapter is marked by Stephen finally meeting with his object of affection, Emma: “Met her today pointblank in Grafton Street.” (2469) Through this meeting Stephen begins to see women as actual humans, unlike the idealizations he had previously seen them as. He begins to have emotions other than lust toward women: “I liked her today. A little or much? Don’t know. I liked her—and it seems a new feeling to me.” (2472) The novel ends with Stephen telling his journal that he will be moving into his new life as an artist: “So be it. Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.” (2472) His use of the phrase “uncreated conscience of my race” makes it clear that Stephen wishes to be an artist who uses his own individual voice and not the voices of those he mimicked before. Stephen makes another reference to his last name’s namesake Daedalus in the final line of the novel, “Old father, old artificer, stand me now and ever in good stead.” (2472) The “old artificer” referenced is Daedalus, and Stephen embraces Daedalus’ role as the master craftsman in his new role as an artist. By this final epiphany of Stephen, he has given up his religious lifestyle to fully pursue what he sees as his true calling: to be an artist.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man follows Stephen Dedalus through many years of his life as he searches for his own voice. By the end of the novel it is clear that he can finally speak as himself without quoting other people, so it seems as if the epiphanies Stephen experiences throughout the novel have served their purpose. Now that Stephen has found himself, he may truly begin to live a life of inner peace, and follow his discovered calling of being an artist.
The Depiction of the Stephen Dedalus’ Story in A Portrait of The Artist As a Young Man
James Joyce’s novel, “A Portrait of The Artist as a Young Man,” chronicles the adventures of Stephen Daedalus as he navigated adolescence in and around the Irish city of Dublin during the late 19th century. He uses his experiences with religion, family, and sexuality to try and figure out his place in the world.
Stephen starts the novel in a prestigious boarding school where he learns of God and the raging political turmoil around him. What frightens him is how little he care about either subject, instead finding interest in his thoughts and studies. As Stephen moves from home to home and from school to school, he tries repeatedly to find an organizational body to belong to, but continuously leaves. After a particularly long period of debauchery, Stephen finds the church and almost becomes a priest, before once again leaving the group he had sought to recede into his own thoughts. After dropping out of university, the young Stephen realizes that he may never fully understand himself or find his place in society, but decides to make a concerted effort to do so for the sake of his art.
When first published, both the public and the literary scholars of the day saw the novel as radical. Joyce’s use of stream-of conscious and cotemporary language was something entirely new to the literary world, and the depictions of faith contrasted with debauchery angered the predominately Catholic Ireland. With time however, the novel has become a benchmark of the modernist literary movement and is more revered than feared. It can also be seen as one of the earliest examples of the autobiography, as many of Stephen’s adventures paralleled Joyce’s own adolescence. Joyce would later refine his style with “Ulysses,” which is considered his magnum opus and possibly the greatest novel of all time. While “Portrait” may seem like just a series of random events experienced by a protagonist, James Joyce uses symbolism and theme to simply yet elegantly dissect a future artist to prove that it is the small and mundane events in life that shape us into the people we are.
One thing that makes “Portrait of An Artist as a Young Man” such a dense and tedious read is the fact that it is grounded very much in the time that it was written in. Every single page is covered in footnotes elaborating on references made in the text. Often, the novel is accompanied by a section of further readings that compliment the time. Often that section is almost as long as the novel itself. What all this is getting at is that due to the novel being so grounded in its time, Joyce never uses heightened language or fancy syntax. His literary language is that of his characters, which is in turn is that of the current time and place; never fanciful, and never needing to be. For example, the following is an example of a fight had between Stephen’s father and his scullery maid, Dante, over the death of a recent labor party leader. “’He’s a devil to all of us!’ Dante cried, her face red with blood. Calm, and with a composure unlike that of the scullery maid, the father replied ‘Then take him to Dublin and burn him! Burn him!’ ‘You dirty bastard. You don’t know the right of the world!’ Dante shot” (Joyce 24).
In many novels from this time, fights involved extremely flamboyant gestures of prose, and a flurry of figurative language. Here, the fight is very intense, intimate, and very grounded in the time it is trying to represent. Because of this, it has much more of an impact, and it is easier to how it impacted a young Stephen. The fight was just like any other quarrel, and the mundane nature of it all draws back to the novel’s main argument that art is influenced by the small and intimate, not the tenacious and bombastic.
While the syntax and diction used by Joyce is informal, he still manages to add another level of literary depth to the novel through his use of symbolism. Throughout Stephen’s life, he encounters many reoccurring images. Women, music, water, and surprisingly cows. In the very first page of the novel, the reader is introduced to these symbols. “Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo… His father told him that story: his father looked at him through a glass: he had a hairy face” (Joyce 1).
Already in the first page, hair, women, cows, and water in a glass influence Stephen, symbols that will repeat throughout his life. Joyce never flat out yells out “there’s a symbol!” They fade into the background, connecting the mundane and personal moments that influence Stephen’s maturation into the artist he is to become.
While James Joyce may not use the romantic language popular in the works of his contemporary’s, Joyce used colloquial and informal diction of the time to his advantage which, coupled with his subtle use of symbolism, help reinforce his argument that the little things in life are what truly shape us into who we become.
While “Portrait of an Artist As A Young Man” has many themes, such as the need for Irish Independence and the role of artists in modern society, Joyce’s most prevalent theme is the development of one’s individual consciousness. The character of Stephen Daedalus is portrayed throughout the novel from the ages of around 12 to his early twenties. During this time, his consciousness is influenced mostly by two things, Stephen’s interactions with his family, and his search for his niche in society.
Stephen comes from a broken family. His father is constantly moving his family from city to city due to his debt problems; his mother never confronts the problem, and his brothers and sisters largely ignore him. Even so, his father’s voice does bring him some comfort. This comfort coupled with the neglect from his family leaves Stephen ample time to think. After one particularly mundane morning of ignorance Stephen observes, “The consciousness of the warm sunny city outside his window and the tender tremors with which his father’s voice festooned the strange and happy air drove off all the mists of the night’s ill humor form Stephen’s brain” (Joyce 77). Through this peek into Stephen’s consciousness, the reader can see how he compensates for the lack of familial interaction, instead focusing on nature and sound in its most basic form. These influences are what really drive his conscience to become one of artistic thought and literary merit.
The other large influence on Stephen’s conscience is his struggle to find a place where he belongs. Throughout the novel, he tries to find his place in boarding school, city life, prostitution, university, and most importantly, religion. In all of the aforementioned cases, he never finds a fit and is pushed back into the search for a purpose. He comes closest to finding a place in religion. After a year of sexual escapades, Stephen turns to the Catholic Church. He devotes about a year of his life to the church and is eventually asked to join the priesthood. His initial excitement turns to resentment when he has a breakthrough thinking, “ He was destined to learn his own wisdom apart from others or to learn the wisdom of others himself wandering among the snare of the world” (Joyce 142). This is a seminal moment in the development of Stephen’s conscience, as this proclamation becomes his defining statement for the rest of the novel. He moves to sacrifice the feeling of belonging to a group for the chance to continue to experience a series of mundane events, day by day, and gleaning from it what he may.
The development of a conscience is the most prevalent theme within “A Portrait of The Artist as a Young Man,” with Stephen’s development of his own conscience being influenced by his relationships with his family, and his constant search for a group to identify himself against (Grendel anyone?). His ultimate decision to reject other’s influences in order to form his own opinions form the simple world around him becomes one of the most important decisions in the book, one that embraces the mundane and realized the development of an artist.
“The fellow laughed; but he (Stephen) felt that they were a little afraid. In the silence of the soft grey air he heard the cricket bats from here and from there: pock. That was a sound to hear but if you were hit then you would feel a pain. The pandybat made a sound too but not like that. The fellows said it was made of whaleboneand leather with lead inside: and he wondered what was the pain like. There were different kinds of pains for all the different kinds of sounds. A long thin cane would have a high whistling sound and he wondered what was the pain like. It made him shivery to think of it and cold: amd what Athy said too. But what was there to laugh at in it? It made him shivery: but that was because you always felt like a shiver when you let down your trousers. It was the same in the bath when you undressed yourself. He wondered who had to let them down, the master or the boy himself. O how could they laugh about it that way?” (Joyce 39).
This section of narration comes very early on in the novel, and occurs after Stephen hears that a few boys who have committed acts of thievery and homosexual activity will be paddled and possibly expelled. After his group of friends laugh at this, the author enters into Stephen’s mind in one of the best examples of stream-of-consciousness writing in the novel. Stephen’s train of thought wanders of on tangents created by his thoughts, and dwells on some thoughts more than others. This dwelling is represented by the use of the repetition of phrases such as “he wondered what the pain was like” and “It made him shivery.” This thoughts and feelings Stephen has start very focused and then bloom into very broad questions about society, before wrapping up neatly with the original question about laughter and comfortableness, and they each affect his five senses differently. It may seem like a whirlwind sensory experience, but in reality, Joyce has captured what really happen in the human mind as it reacts to its surroundings. This passage illuminates how influential mundane events can be on life, as the questions that spring from this open up door to whole other issues, shaping one into the person they will end up becoming.
“The tragic emotion, in fact, is a face looking two ways, towards terror and towards pity, both of which are phases of it. You see I use the word arrest. I mean that the tragic emotion is static. Or rather the dramatic emotion is. The feelings excited by improper art are kinetic, desire or loathing. Desire urges us to possess, to go on to something, loathing urges us to abandon, to go away from something. These are kinetic emotions. The arts which excite them, pornographical or didactic, are therefore improper arts. The esthetic emotion (I use the general term) is therefore static. The mind is arrested and raised above desire and loathing” (Joyce 180).
This excerpt is from part V of the book. Stephen is now in his early twenties, as evidenced by the fact that he is no longer learning information, but bestowing it. In this particular instance, Stephen is explaining to his classmate, Lynch, the difference between emotions and the art that inspires them. While readin this and the surrounding passages, I found myself disagreeing with Stephen’s disdain for what he calls “improper arts;” the arts that inspire feelings of loathing and desire. Stephen seems so locked into the idea that arts should not excite, but inform. He can only see the negatives in loathing and desire. Often, desire can be a good thing. Desire is often what motivates people to do great things. The possession of knowledge and heath are two of the greatest drives for desire that have produced the most important revolutions known to man. Loathing is less exonarable, as loathing has produced some of the worst aspect of mankind such as war and genocide. However, to say that is stems exclusively from art that excites seems very narrow-minded to me. Art that informs can often radicalize someone who was neutral, while art that excites can often stope someone from committing heinous acts.
“The English lesson began with the hearing of the history. Royal persons, favourites, intriguers, bishops passed like mute phantoms behind the veil of names. All had died: all had been judged. What did it profit a man to gain the whole world if he lost his soul? At last he had understood: and human life lay around him, a plain of peace whereon antlike men labored in brotherhood, their dead sleeping under quiet mounds. The elbow of his companion touched him and his heart was touched: his own voice full of quietude of humility and contrition” (Joyce 110).
This excerpt comes from part three of the novel. Stephen is in his teens and is learning about history when he has two major breakthroughs. He decides that the way to happiness is through a sense of community, and that the brotherhood of man will always provide for him. He also decides that ones actions on earth are not worth the while if their soul is damned to hell. Both of these decisions tie back into Stephen’s continuous search for a purpose and a sense of belonging in the world. It is these two epiphanies that start Stephen’s lengthy period in the church. He spends more time working for the church than in any school or club he has been in to that point. Late on in the novel, Stephen is offered priesthood and has a mental breakdown, ultimately abandoning the church. If one were tor reread this passage after finishing the novel, knowing full well that both of these epiphanies would not serve Stephen long, they would see this passage as a textbook example of how our worldview and priorities change as we grow in age and in knowledge.
“When you first wet the bed it is warm then it gets cold. His mother put on the oilsheet. That had the queer smell.
His mother had a nicer smell than his father. She played on the piano the sailor’s hornpipe for him to dance. He danced.
Uncle Charles and Dante clapped. They were older than his father and mother but Uncle Charles was older than Dante. Dante had two brushes in her press. The brush with the maroon velvet back was for Michael Davitt and the brush with the green velvet back was for Parnell” (Joyce 1).
We end at the story’s beginning. The first page of the novel is seen through the eyes of Stephen when he is probably about two or three years old. The observations he makes on the first page seem rudimentary: Dante has two brushes, the oilsheet smells funny, Uncle Charles is older than Dante. However, if you go back and read the previous three excrepts in this order-I, III, II-then you notice one of Joyce’s most important literary choices in the novel. Stephen’s observations become more and more advanced and ense as the novel progresses. The novel essentially chronicles the inner processes of Stephen’s mind in real time as he grown up. Often narrators have the same mental capacity no matter there age during the entre novel. The mental progression that parallels the age progression in “Portrait” shows the genius of James Joyce’s writing style. This mental progression is a rarity in novels across time and is one of the most convincing reasons for why this novel was so revolutionary and will be studied for centuries to come.
The criticisms that were hurled at “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” for its revolutionary writing style and realistic depictions of both public and home life have now dissipated, and it is clear to see why. The novel’s use of implicit symbolism and repeating motifs break the notion that it is the large bombastic events in our lives that shape our actions and our character.
James Joyce takes the shards of glass broken by his radical use of literary devices and uses them to weave a wholly new exploration of theme, and how it is the little events and interactions in life that contribute the most to our personality and worldview. He further emphasizes this with revolutionary literary techniques such as the constant use of stream-of-consciousness writing to explore Stephen Daedalus’ most inner thoughts, and the real-time mental progression of Stephen that illuminates how these inner thoughts warp and change as a result of outside influence and internal questioning.
Thought the novel as a whole may seem like a slice-of-life story with no real weight, Joyce wields a literary scalpel to dissect a future artist and prove once and for all that it is the David’s of our lives, not the Goliaths, that have the most profound impact during adolescence.
Esthetic Analysis of the Bird-Girl Scene in A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man
The Structural Capabilities of Water and Air in the “Bird-Girl Scene”
In Book V of A Portrait of A Young Artist, Stephen Daedalus decides to explain his personal theory of esthetics to his friend Lynch, analyzing perception (primarily sight, but including hearing and touch)and articulating the elements which form a perceptual experience. He then explicates the modes of expression through which the individual responds to his or her experiences. “Experience” is here understood to include affect and how emotion (or ‘feeling’) is formed within the subject who “experiences” his or her world by perceptual means. Stephen is also explicating “experience” in terms of ‘esthetic’ perception in particular, meaning that he is interested in the “experience” of ‘true’ beauty – otherwise understood as the ‘work of art’ or product of the artist. By explaining these modes of expressing experience, Stephen presents himself as if he ‘knows’ all there is to ‘know’ about perception and the experience of that perception, including esthetic “apprehension” proper. Yet Stephen does not really seem to understand beauty or art except through theory. In fact, my hypothesis is that in just one Book prior to Book V (referring to IV), Stephen ironically undergoes a true esthetic experience yet fails to recognize it as such.
This scene, known as “the bird girl scene”, illustrates the problem of defining the nature of any one “experience”, given that sensory perception (the mode of perceiving or perception), emotion, and affect can be ‘felt’ altogether, in a way that seems simultaneous (when they are not) or can seem to occur simultaneously (when they in fact are). Primary symbolism – such as how water functions in the bird girl scene, and how the juxtaposition of “the world”, a flower, and “a glimmer”, connote the intermingling and interactive forces that “happen” to the individual who experiences (as in an agentive entity which acts upon the individual), but which also relies on the individual him or herself to actually create the experience of sensory perception, affect, and emotion. Joyce plays with these intermingling entity-creations throughout A Portrait, using opposing elements, concepts, objects, or sensings, such as water and fire (flame; rivers, rivulets or sea); the world, a flower, a glimmer; beauty and truth; and colors (such as emerald green and white or ivory), to name a few examples. The connotations of these sound-images move in and out of corporeal/incorporeal states for Stephen, suggesting that the boundaries between affect, emotion, and perception are fluid. Stephen ultimately fails to correlate his experiences with his theory of perception because of this variability of experience which yields textures, sounds, and smells that change in shape and consistency, which produce (or compel the individual, by his or her own interest, to create) ideas about existence and being-in-the-world.
In A Portrait, I consider that Joyce utilizes water and air – at least in the scene of the bird girl – to represent these conceptual elements. Hence Joyce juxtaposes the two even within the same instance, using them to give this ‘moment’ of esthetic perception a certain tactile tension, structuring the affect or atmosphere in a way that implies a direct correlation to the felt turbulence of the interior experience: “He was alone and young and wilful and wildhearted, alone amid a waste of wild air and brackish water” (433). The wildness of air and the salty, possibly dirty water, described as “waste” and paired with the alliterative construction “wilful and wildhearted” and previous description (wherein Stephen feels “a new wild life singing in his veins” and “He was unheeded, happy and near to the wild heart of life”) implies, by the repetition of the sound “w” and its word, “wild”, that the atmosphere is somehow entering Stephen, affecting him and thence affecting his experience of the moment. Water and air is therefore pivotal to the scene insofar as they characterize Stephen’s perception.
Stephen notes in Book V that the first thing to occur in the realization of three different phases of “artistic apprehension” in the perception of a ‘work of beauty’ (“wholeness, harmony, and radiance” (479).). He states that the first instance of this moment (wholeness) involves the fact that the object of our perception is presented to us “either in space or in time. What is audible is presented in time, what is visible is presented in space” (479). The focus in this section on the distinction between water and air relates directly to this idea, which is just one reason as to why the environment in which he perceives the bird-girl incorporates water and air as a sharp visual and tactile contrast. Water, after all, extends horizontally, spatially; it flows in what might be considered a linear trajectory, cutting through land and in every way contrasting the air directly above it. The moment he sees the bird girl, in fact, both Stephen and she stand in the stream of a river; the sea is visible from where they stand, which she “alone and still” gazes at. On the one hand, the girl seems tethered to the environment as if birthed from it, the phrase “[h]er long slender bare legs were delicate as a crane’s and pure save where an emerald trail of seaweed had fashioned itself as a sign upon the flesh,” (433) suggesting a connection to the water that is umbilical.
Air, meanwhile, implies ascension; the girl’s wings therefore are in no way vestigial to Joyce’s purpose. They reference the mythology behind Stephen’s name, but they also reference the bildungsroman structure of A Portrait on its own. Thus we have a repetition in the text of the word “drift” in a specific association with “clouds” and by extension, air: “The water of the rivulet was dark with endless drift and mirrored the highdrifting clouds. The clouds were drifting above him silents and silently the seatangle was drifting below him; and the grey warm air was still” (433).
This status wherein they each occupy both air and water, implies that the bird girl is, firstly, an extension of Stephen himself, and secondly, the cause of Stephen’s esthetic outburst as well as a signal that the ‘outburst’ is going to happen. My first point follows from the other, as reference to the text shows: “The personality of the artist passes into the narration itself, flowing round and round the persons and the action like a vital sea.” Stephen’s selfhood flows around the bird girl, creating her at the same time as pushing forward to formulate this “vital sea”. “The dramatic form is reached when the vitality which has flowed and eddied round each person fills every person with such vital force that he or she assumes a proper and intangible esthetic life” (483). Thus, Stephen ‘births’ the bird-girl in this way; the the emerald tether links her to his immediate thoughts while she looks beyond his present thoughts and personality to his future self.
Throughout my analysis of the Stephen-Lynch conversation and the bird girl scene, I take this notion to claim that Stephen does not really understand esthetic experience at all; a fact which rests mainly on the point that to do so includes denying his own agency or complicity in the moment of perception. While Stephen believes that “The esthetic image in the dramatic form is life purified in and reprojected from the human imagination”, meaning that only once the materials of sensory perception are inside oneself can the individual process his or her own experiences, thenceforth coming to “know” the “experience”. He seems to connect the ‘esthetic image’ in the “dramatic form” (he evidently refers to the epic construction of A Portrait itself) to the personality of the individual artist, considering the artist to imbue esthetic experience – which is created by the individual him or herself – with nothing other but him or her own being [in the “narrative” form]. Thus, like the narrator of A Portrait (or should we say Stephen?) the artist “remains within or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails” (483). Stephen, indeed, does appear indifferent throughout the test – a fact most obviously illustrated by the third person narration by which the text is relayed. That being said, Stephen elucidates a concept of an artist who never creates, except inside his head. Essentially, for Stephen, everyone is an artist – a fact which, if true, holds some real problems for defining what the artist who creates a physical (tangible) project is. But it also yields the question of how much Stephen can be said to actually experience the things he “experiences” if he remains so distant. The consequence, I believe is that Stephen becomes unable to properly register what esthetic experience ‘feels’ like.
My contention is that Stephen’s theory reveals – by its contextual situation between the bird girl scene and a moment wherein he glimpses his “beloved”, Emma Clery, at some distance – that he is unable to recognize that his vision of the bird girl at a distance is directly related to his love-at-a-distance for Emma Clery. The fact he turns and runs away from his vision of the bird girl is also telling: just as he appears unable to approach Emma, he is unable to face the girl with wings. The bird girl, like Emma, exists in the same time and space as Stephen, but threatens to fly away after her vision has passed with disinterest over his body and onto other possible experiences – that vast sea which opens upon the horizon. This is why the bird girl is described as “an envoy from the fair courts of life,” and why either Stephen or the narrator – it is not clear – equates her heart to a bird’s: “her life as simple and strange as a bird’s life, gay in the morning, restless all day, tired at sundown? Her heart simple and wilful as a bird’s heart?” (485).
Thus, Stephen avoids ‘real’ esthetic experience. He closes his eyes in the bird girl scene, (“He closed his eyes in the languor of sleep”(435)), just as he closes his eyes during his interaction with the prostitute in Book II (“He closed his eyes, surrendering himself to her, body and mind, conscious of nothing in the world but the dark pressure of her softly parting lips” (353).). Esthetic experience, beyond that which he creates almost solely in his own mind, is too strong for him. Thus, he avoids it to the point that he cannot compare even the guidelines of his own theory during an important experience – his mind shuts down, he becomes “peaceful”: “His mind, empty of theory and courage, lapsed back into a listless peace” (484). Joyce paints for us a boy growing into a man that fails to an epic degree – as epic as the emotions which he fails to register properly. He is, as a consequence, unable to truly understand what it means to take from his personal experiences and put it into art.
The Deep Symbolism of Water Metaphor
A series of transformations defines every human life. Whether physical, psychological, religious, or sociological, alterations mark progress on the journey of maturation. This idea plays a central role in James Joyce’s debut novel, which follows the development of Stephen Daedalus as he transforms from a troubled young man into an artist. In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Joyce employs water as a motif to explore the transformation of Stephen’s soul.
Regarded as the most versatile chemical compound on earth, water easily switches energy states and dissolves an uncountable number of substances. Fittingly, Joyce uses water as a symbol of Stephen’s changing soul in the novel. By describing what state the water is in, what it looks like, or substances mixed with the water, Joyce can effectively mirror the state of Stephen as his coming-of-age story progresses. Throughout the novel, Joyce hints that water represents Stephen’s soul. For example, while discussing philosophy with the dean of his university, Stephen mentions that a man named Epictetus once said that, “the soul is very like a bucketful of water” (Joyce 187). From this statement, one could infer that the water in the bucket represents experiences, and every drop of water in the bucket helps define that bucket, just as every experience helps define the human soul.
Indeed, experiences do define Stephen’s soul throughout the novel. Especially in the first half of the book, water is utilized with a depressing connotation, which reflects Stephen’s beaten-down state. Notably, the ditch at Clongowes represents Stephen’s time there. When pushed into the ditch by an abusive student, Stephen vividly describes it, saying, “How cold and slimy the water had been! A fellow had once seen a rat jump into the scum” (Joyce 11). Stephen’s sickness later in the chapter correlates with this moment, combining to represent how Stephen’s soul responds to the restrictive and unhappy environment. Water is described in a similar fashion once Stephen moves to Dublin, where he observes, “the multitude of corks that lay bobbing on the surface of the water in a thick yellow scum” (Joyce 66). The yellow scum brings to mind the atmosphere of malaise in Dublin, and the depression Stephen feels there.
As one of the key motifs in the novel, water plays a major role in two of Stephen’s most significant turning points. While listening to the fire-and-brimstone sermon in chapter 3, Stephen vividly imagines a second great flood coming to destroy all life, envisioning, “noiselessly floating corpses amid the litter of the wreckage of the world” (Joyce 117). Just as the flood would consume all life on earth, the sins of Stephen’s past were threatening to overtake his soul. This instance was the beginning of Stephen’s temporary transformation into a pious man. Following this transformation, Stephen experiences his defining epiphany. While at the ocean, Stephen juxtaposes a beautiful, peaceful ocean scene with descriptions of powerful, newfound life. For example, Stephen, “wondered at the endless drift of the seaweed. Emerald and black and russet and olive, it moved beneath the current, swaying and turning…the grey warm air was still: and a new wild life was singing in his veins” (Joyce 170). By combining both water, fire, and bird motifs in this section, Joyce illustrates Stephen’s transformation into an artist, turning a dead soul into a soul full of fire and vitality.
Interestingly, the beautiful ocean imagery is sharply contrasted with something not quite as pleasant. Shortly after his epiphany, Stephen bleakly describes his dinner with his family, saying, “He drained his third cup of watery tea to the dregs… the yellow dripping had been scooped out like a boghole and the pool under it brought back to his memory the dark, turfcolored water of the bath at Clongowes” (Joyce 174). The water imagery here illustrates an important point: while Stephen’s soul has been been transformed into one of an artist, family and society still shackle him. The description above references Clongowes, bringing Stephen’s soul full circle, back to the discontentment and unhappiness he felt at the start of the novel. To truly release the artist inside of him, Stephen must escape Ireland by flying over the water that isolates him from freedom.
By way of using water as a motif, James Joyce creates a vivid depiction of Stephen’s changing soul. Over the course of the novel, Stephen transforms from being dead inside to a free and joyous artist, full of life and vitality. Through Stephen, Joyce constructs a theme that resonates with anyone who has struggled to truly find themselves. Just as transformations define Stephen’s journey, they also define each individual human’s journey to discover their identity and individuality.
The Role of Epiphany and Joyce’s Perspective on it
The word “epiphany”, literally meaning “showing forth”, is originally a Biblical term, referring to the festival commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, often called the “Magi”, usually celebrated on 6th January, or Twelfth Night. On this day there is a Church feast celebrating the coming of the “three Kings of the Orient” to worship the baby Jesus. The word, however, is adapted by James Joyce to encompass his artistic vision, first expressed in the Preface to the “Dubliners”, and then defined in more detail in “Stephen Hero”, his first autobiographical story, almost destroyed by him, and then published as a fragment after his death. In “Stephen Hero”, Stephen, planning a book of epiphanies, tells us that “by an epiphany he meant a sudden spiritual manifestation, whether in the vulgarity of speech or of gesture or in a memorable phase of the mind itself. He believed that it was for the man of letters to record these epiphanies with extreme care, seeing that they themselves are the most delicate and evanescent of moments”. An epiphany, therefore, in Joyce’s sense, “shows forth” the full reality of what is seen and observed, but not in logical, analytical form. The reality appears to the mind in a flash of inspiration, triggered by an ordinary conversation or incident.
All Joyce’s writings, including his early ones like “Chamber Music” or “Dubliners”, is thought to consist of a series of epiphanies. What makes “A Portrait of the Artist” different from these is that before “A Portrait” was published, Joyce’s works consisted of essentially isolated epiphanies. “A Portrait” is the first work which incorporates in it a sequence of related epiphanies in the form of a coherent narrative, though in this novel he nowhere refers to “epiphany” by name. He only illustrates its use as not only as a significant literary technique, but also as an important philosophical concept, which would later become not only the cornerstone of Joyce’s own mature works, but also of Modernism in general. In Joyce’s practice, the term actually has two meanings – one, that epiphany reveals the truth, the intrinsic essence of a person or something that is observed; and second, that it is a state of mind, a heightened spiritual ecstasy, which he calls “the memorable phase of the mind itself”. The first puts emphasis on the object, whose reality is revealed by an epiphany; the second puts emphasis on the observer, for whom the epiphany can be a state of heightened consciousness. As such, knowledge becomes something subjective and intuitive, not merely a rational process. In fact, as Stanislaus, Joyce’s brother, records, epiphanies can also include dreams, since Joyce, taking his cue from Freud, considered dreams to be a sub-conscious re-shaping of everyday reality. Both meanings can be illustrated in the various episodes of “A Portrait”.
Where the first meaning is concerned, the emphasis being on the object, a good example would be that incident in Chapter II, where Stephen’s romantic picture of cows grazing in a sylvan setting receives a jolt when he visits Stradbrook. The vivid details of the “filthy cowyard”, with its “foul green puddles and clots of liquid dung and steaming brantroughs”1, bring home to him the distinction between his idealistic vision of cows (symbolizing his country Ireland), and the foulness of reality.
An epiphany with its second meaning also occurs in the second chapter, when Mr. Dedalus, Stephen’s father, reveals what is obviously regarded by Stephen as a betrayal of sorts by the rector of Clongowes, Father Conmee. He had wonderful ideas of his own heroism in going to the rector to complain about being wrongfully “pandied” by the prefect of studies, Father Dolan. This larger-than-life opinion about himself is rudely broken when his father comes home and relates the incident of meeting the rector in Dublin, when the rector spoke of the child Stephen in the following terms – “I told them all at dinner about it and Father Dolan and I and all of us had a hearty laugh together over it. Ha! Ha! Ha!”2. Epiphanies like these are not only used to bring out a sudden realization of the truth in the hero, but also in the reader.
Another epiphany is the ecstasy of spirit that Stephen experiences after the retreat, when his soul realizes that it can yet be saved through repentance. An example of “a sudden flash of insight” occurs in the fourth chapter, when Stephen, almost acquiescing to the director’s offer of priesthood, suddenly sees a quartet of young men dancing and singing down the road. The very colourfulness of their clothing, their lilting music, their dancing steps, and their simple enjoyment, brings to Stephen’s mind in a flash of insight, their contrast with the colourlessness, coldness, and emotionlessness of priesthood, and makes him realize in a moment that priesthood is not going to be his vocation, even though he had been attracted to that profession from his childhood.
Often these two meanings coincide in a single moment of intense ecstasy – as in the finest epiphany of the novel in the conclusion to Chapter IV – the picture of the young girl wading in the sea –
“A girl stood before him in midstream, alone and still, gazing out to sea. She seemed like one whom magic had changed into the likeness of a strange and beautiful sea-bird …….. She was alone and still, gazing out to sea; and when she felt his presence and the worship of his eyes her eyes turned to him in quiet sufferance of his gaze, without shame or wantonness”3.
In one moment the girl becomes for him the embodiment of beauty of art, and in a flash of insight Stephen recognizes his artistic vocation. His “enchantment of the heart” is expressed clearly in his wild delight and ecstatic language. The two aspects of the epiphany coalesce to bring the fourth chapter to its rapturous climax.
On the other hand, because of its subjective nature, an epiphany can also be unreliable, as we see in Chapter III, when, after the retreat, Father Arnall’s lectures manage to convince Stephen that his only correct course is to repent and return to the Church. In Chapter IV this acceptance is rejected, and he realizes his folly through an epiphany.
The epiphany also has a deeper, more philosophical significance – the concern with time; and Stephen himself draws attention to this in his diary towards the end of the novel – “The past is consumed in the present, and the present is living only because it brings forth the future”4. Clearly, Stephen’s view is that each moment is the cumulative product of past decisions and actions, and brings about the future by the same process. A prime example of this is the epiphany in the tram, when, while standing with Emma on the tram steps, he remembers his past moments on “the hotel grounds” with Eileen. This moment also anticipates the future, because he will not only remember this moment later, but also because it will subconsciously influence his later life, when Emma will become an archetype of feminine virtue and unattainable sexuality. This is embodied in the present by his inability to kiss her.
In “A Portrait of the Artist” Stephen does not refer to the word “epiphany” directly, but he does define a very similar phenomenon in his aesthetic theory, when he discusses the various stages of apprehending a work of art. After referring to the “wholeness” (integritas) of a work of art, he perceives its “rhythm” (consonantia), and finally realizes its radiance (claritas). The notion of “epiphany” does not necessarily imply any moral or aesthetic content, and reveals only truth, but it has a lot in common with the process of “claritas” – something which Stephen has great difficulty in elucidating. After trying to explain it as “radiance” and “whatness”, he finally uses the phrases “luminous silent stasis” and “enchantment of the heart”5. These connect it with the definition of “epiphany” in “Stephen Hero” as a form of highly rarefied spiritual manifestation.
There has been plenty of criticism expressing doubts about the effectiveness of the epiphany in novel-writing. One of the main reasons for such doubt is that, in order to deepen their impact, the epiphanies generally have an abrupt, even melodramatic ending. Also, these epiphanies may sometimes appear isolated in the plot line, making the novel seem episodic and ununified.
Against these charges, the partial truth of which cannot be denied, we can say that the drawbacks are to a great extent cancelled by their advantages. In “A Portrait of the Artist”, moreover, the presence and consciousness of Stephen is a potent unifying factor. The epiphanies in this novel also become an important vehicle for binding together themes, motifs, and symbols which run throughout the novel.
1) James Joyce : “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” (Penguin Books, 1992, London), p.66.
2) Ibid, p.76.
3) Ibid, p.186.
4) Ibid, p.273.
5) Ibid, p.231.
The Imagination as the Creative Force
Imagination is the individual’s ability to create mental images through his perception of reality. It is an indispensable artistic tool that allows humans to express themselves creatively; it separates us from other living creatures. In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Stephen Dedalus struggles through adolescent life in order to discover his true vocation. In this novel, imagination is the invisible force that compels Stephen to take initiative in life. As the story progresses, the role of imagination is evident in Stephen’s four distinct transformations. “I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race” (Joyce 275). His imagination is the implement that allows Stephen to finally create his own conscience and, via self-understanding, finally become an artist.
Stephen’s first major transformation occurs when he confronts the rector at Clongowes Wood College. Stephen thinks it unjust that Father Dolan punished him for idleness when he was actually excused from his assignments. His determination to right the injustice against himself is only possible through his imagination. After shrinking from his cause, Stephen is emboldened: “He though of the baldy head of the prefect of studies with the cruel noncoloured eyes looking at him and he heard the voice of the prefect of studies asking him twice what his name was” (Joyce 56). This diminutive and negative description encourages Stephen to take action. After imagining Father Dolan, he becomes confident and successfully requests the rector to correct the mistake. This initial victory, the first in a series of events that lead to Stephen’s freedom from society, takes place largely because of his active imagination.
As Stephen continues to grow and understand more about the society around him, he encounters new obstacles that he must overcome to reach his calling. The irony is that Stephen sets himself up for these challenges; both the ups and downs of his life are due in part to his own decisions. One such trial involves the Dublin prostitute, where Stephen loses his innocence but learns of the folly of sinful life. “The equation on the page of his scribbler began to spread out a widening tail… It was his own soul going forth to experience, unfolding itself sin by sin, spreading abroad the balefire of its burning stars and folding back upon itself, fading slowly, quenching its own lights and fires.” (Joyce 110)
As Stephen imagines his scribbler, he thinks about its relation to his own sinful life. He pictures the various sins he has committed and also discusses lights and fires. This foreshadows his abandonment of this life for the religious one; the recurring symbolism of fire convinces Stephen that this immoral life is not for him. Stephen’s imagination of its consequences leads him to this conclusion. When Stephen decides to quench his sexual needs, he is once again allowing himself to progress through a stage in life. However, the imagination plays a crucial role here as he decides to leave behind the sinful life that many people choose and continues to search for his vocation.
After indulging in sin, Stephen Dedalus becomes repentant and decides to live his life religiously. The religious retreat with Clongowes terrifies Stephen; he believes that a vengeful God will condemn him for his sins. The main factor here is Father Arnall’s speech. He speaks of fire and brimstone, emphasizing that those who sin will not be forgiven unless they instantly atone for their wrongdoings. “Hell is a strait and dark and foulsmelling prison, an abode of demons and lost souls, filled with fire and smoke. The straitness of this prisonhouse is expressly designed by God to punish those who refused to be bound by His laws” (Joyce 128). Although this description is from Father Arnall’s imagination, it still compels Stephen to act. He is convinced that the sermon is meant specifically for him and decides that he can change. After listening to this dreadful description, Stephen’s picture of himself burning in the hellfire scares hjim into taking action: “There was still time. O Mary, refuge of sinners, intercede for him! O Virgin Undefiled, save him from the gulf of death!” (Joyce 135) Stephen acknowledges that he has sinned and decides that he should amend his life. After confessing and living piously for a period of time, Stephen once again abandons an institution and moves on with his life. He decides that the religious vocation is not his either; his rejection of both faith and the pleasures of the world through these imaginative lessons now pave the way to Stephen’s awakening.
The final metamorphosis that Stephen undergoes shows why the name of the novel is A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. He has finally taken on the Daedalus persona and become a mature artist. “Old father, old artificer, stand me now and ever in good stead” (Joyce 276). Stephen’s tribute to his namesake, the great artist who escaped from his own labyrinth by imaginatively crafting a flying device, is a final testament to Stephen’s acceptance of his role as an artist in society. He imagines himself soaring away from the entrapments of sin and religious service: “His throat ached with a desire to cry aloud, the cry of a hawk or eagle on high, to cry piercingly of his deliverance to the winds. This was the call of life to his soul not the dull gross voice of the world of duties and despair, not the inhuman voice that had called him to the pale service of the altar” (Joyce 184).
Stephen’s avoidance of the snares of life is only possible through his imagination, which is evident in his final discovery: “A girl stood before him in midstream, alone and still, gazing out to sea. She seemed like one whom magic had changed into the likeness of a strange and beautiful seabird… and when she felt his presence and the worship of his eyes her eyes turned to him in quiet sufferance…” (Joyce 186). The female figure represents aesthetic beauty; she is the epitome of what Stephen considers art. After imagining this ideal woman, Stephen finally understands his calling. He has transcended the confines of society and ultimately decides to leave behind his home, family, and religion to pursue art.
Through the various stages in Stephen’s life as a young man, he becomes more and more informed about the world around him. His imagination propels him through these experiences; it constantly pushes him to make choices, whether good or bad. Stephen learns that indulging himself in sin is not befitting of his character, nor is becoming a strictly religious priest. He finds his place as an artist, a man free of all such constraints. The decisions that he makes correlate with Stephen’s destiny and eventually lead to his career as an artist. Without his creative talent, Stephen would not have progressed through life in this fashion, and it is possible that he would not have become an artist either.
A Look at James Joyce’s Display of the Challenges of Stephen as Described in His Book, A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man
Children are constantly asked about their dreams and aspirations. This never-ending stream of directed questions can only lead to the disillusionment that everyone has some great destiny awaiting them. In James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the protagonist Stephen is struggling through inner turmoil between the man Irish society and institutions want him to be, and the man that he thinks he wants to be. This definite piece of Irish literature is so dependent upon both the politically historical and religiously centered social background that every reference is crucial to the overall feeling of the novel. However, astonishingly the overlying message surpasses the barriers of time and place to give meaning to a reader from any culture or era. Because people think there is a great destiny awaiting them, they are in constant search of a secure home to nourish their dreams and give comfort to the individual soul.
The political debacle over Irish independence shined through Stephen, who although ironically was dissatisfied with his country, embodied its basic elements of individualism. Consider the Christmas dinner where Dante defended herself by stating “a priest would not be a priest if he did not tell his flock what is right and what is wrong”(31). The underlying sense of anger in this scene originates from how Mr. Casey and Mr. Dedalus are contempt with the lack of Irish independence from England. This political background is key to Stephen’s approach in his journey of becoming an artist. A parallel can be drawn to the theme of independence, and following one’s own journey rather than the road others lay out. Furthermore, as a young adult Stephen finds himself rather discontent with Ireland as his ancestors “allowed a handful of foreigners to subject them”(203). This again references Ireland’s lack of independence. Stephen eventually opts to depart his home because Ireland’s lack of freedom was not propelling him towards his singular destiny of becoming an artist. Here Stephen was so dissatisfied with his home that out of frustration for an individually compelling environment, he leaves. These political references to emphasize independence and freedom in both the country and individual soul render late 19th century Ireland as essential to generating Joyce’s arguments.
Joyce’s mockery of hypocritical religious institutions that ruled Irish society at the time emphasizes Stephen’s struggle over whether or not society was to feed his destiny or not. To begin with, society stressed upon him the indisputable influence of religion. Therefore Stephen became contrite over his sins with women. After “he had confessed and God had pardoned him, his soul was made fair and holy once more, holy and happy”(145). Stephen felt a false sense of security by the institution of religion as well as society that he was now going to be all right. Even with going though the motions of a pious Catholic, Stephen could not feel completely at home. This sheds light on how many “devout” religious beings may actually feel on the inside. Their actions are rather mechanical Not all religiously active people feel holy on the inside. Ultimately, Stephen faced the unavoidable decision to either join the priesthood or follow his “destiny” to become an artist. This further ridicules the process of selecting higher religious figures. It is based on sheer outward appearance, quantity, and frequency of religious endeavors rather than the quality of religious work. Stephen realizes that Irish society is not contributing to his destiny when he comes to the consensus that “he was destined to learn his own wisdom apart from others or to learn the wisdom of others himself wandering among the snares of the world”(175). Consequently Stephen again departs his past “home” for the university that becomes his new “home” for the time being. Joyce clearly wanted to depict the oppressing and shallow nature of Irish society that revolved around religion. The Irish background adds on to the void feeling Stephen has even upon technically doing all that he was told by the institutions.
Although the setting served to build the background to concepts Joyce wanted to portray, the actual ideas manifested throughout the novel are relevant to human nature regardless of generation and location. To begin with, Stephen never truly grasps the concept of “home.” As a young child he was sent to boarding school, and after returning he was constantly moving from house to house. Gradually “a vague dissatisfaction grew up within him as he looked on the quays and on the river and on the lowering skies”(66-67). From a young age Stephen grows up in a home that lacked stability. He was never able to find comfort in his own home. This dissatisfaction is universal to humans, for people find discomfort in trying to not only find their identities, but also find their destiny to where they fit in to the universe. This abstract concept is applied to Stephen as his search for identity is paralleled to truly finding his “home,” a place of security and feeling of belonging. It is only human nature to want to have a rightful place.
Throughout the novel, Joyce masterfully takes advantage of incorporating Ireland into all aspects of the novel from its setting to character names to society. These compel the novel to be exactly that – an Irish novel. However when taking a step back, one can see that as a Bildungsroman, the theme of ones journey in search of ones destiny or place in the universe is applicable to all. Humans have an innate desire to feel at “home.” Joyce urges the reader to notice the ups and downs to hunting down what one believes is his or her destiny regardless of the rest of one’s community rather than rationally thinking through what is best for the situation.
The Burnt and the Cooked: Binaries and Continua in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
The Christmas dinner scene¹s divisive political and moral debate in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man underlines an essential obstacle to the artistic mind of Stephen Dedalus. Ireland imposes a set of oppressive binariesnamely in the form of religion and nationalismfrom which he can escape only through the ambiguity of language and his developing theory of the aesthetic. His progression to systems of continua over binaries also functions as implicit instruction from Joyce on how to read the novel. In a piece of art so consumed with its own internal order, the author acknowledges the textual value of a structural analysis, but only for the ideological content of the work. To ingest the “tragic emotion” of the novel, the reader needs to split the emotional binary of pity and terror and hold a “face looking two ways” (176). In other words, the reader may not process the emotion of the novel in a diagrammatic form, as he may, for example, when linking the ends and beginnings of chapters or the motif of the word “ivory.” From this continuum follow Stephen¹s ideas on stasis and radiance by which, presumably, we should behold Portrait as a work of beauty.However, Joyce complicates his Janus-like theory with Stephen¹s proclamation that the simplest form of art is “the lyrical form, the form wherein the artist presents his image in immediate relation to himself” (184). The next form, the epical, is merely the artist¹s “image in mediate relation to himself and others” (184). Portrait is, at its most basic level, the authorial framing of a younger self¹s worldboth self-interrogation and mediated surveillance of the self with othersand thus an ostensible aesthetic failure. The concluding project for Joyce, then, is the elevation of his literary adolescence beyond lyrical and epical autobiography and into the dramatic, in which the “personality of the artistfinally refines itself out of existence” (185). He can accomplish this only by applying the novel¹s concept of rhythm to the biographical conflation of Joyce and Stephenthe initial solipsistic and monochromatic deterrent to an imaginative dramatic aestheticas viewed through the kaleidoscopic lens of exile.When a taunting schoolmate asks Stephen whether or not he kisses his mother goodnight, Stephen first answers yes and, when his peers mock him, recants and is again met with derision. There is no way out for him, and the early lesson of impossible logic imprints itself on him: “What was the right answer to the question? He had given two and still Wells laughed” (10). To escape the laughter or, in other words, to claim his own voice and not heed those of others, Stephen must find a third way, a triangulation which opens up a multiplicity of non-exclusive answers. Language is a powerful signifier in Irish culture, as evidenced by both the content and form of the Christmas dinner. Dante opens the discussion with “identity” logic, arguing that a priest must be a singular entity who relates a Manichean morality: “A priest would not be a priest if he did not tell his flock what is right and what is wrong” (25). Joyce repeatedly emphasizes the table¹s attention to the power of the word in the various rebuttals. Uncle Charles pleads “Not another word now” and Dante returns with “Nice language for any catholic to use!” (25) Further attempts to conciliate”Nobody is saying a word against them”are met by Dante¹s return to the oral interaction: “The bishops and priests of Ireland have spokenand they must be obeyed” (25). Dante, who appeals to Mrs. Dedalus with “You hear?” reaffirms the importance of language as a vessel for memory and morality: “O, he¹ll remember all this when he grows up, said Dante hotlythe language he heard against God and religion and priests in his own home” (27). Evidently, Stephen does, but even at an early age he has discovered a defense against accepting the binary morality of priests.Joyce establishes Stephen¹s first as a poetic mind, able to find beauty in ordinary usage of language. The “author” of the start of the novel¹s second episode is ambiguous, as the language is attuned to its own poetics (and thus, perhaps, Stephen¹s own voice) but also to the overarching narrative:”The wide playgrounds were swarming with boys. All were shouting and the prefects urged them on with strong cries. The evening air was pale and chilly and after every charge and thud of the foot-ballers the greasy leather orb flew like a heavy bird through the grey light. He kept on the fringe of his line, out of sight of his prefect, out of the reach of the rude feet, feigning to run now and then.” (4)Structurally, many of the touches here are Joyce¹s work. Stephen¹s terror at the end of the first episode is remedied through claustrophobic refuge under the table, and here the agoraphobia of the “wide playgrounds” juxtaposes his continuing fear. Just as Joyce is clearly in charge of contrasting closed with open and domestic with recreational, he also rhymes the word “cries” with Stephen¹s poem from the end of the first episode (“Pull out his eyes / Apologise” ). But the internal tension of the words here shows a developing awareness of and expertise with linguistic play, and should be read as Stephen¹s. Instead of the simple “abba” rhyme scheme of the “apologise” poem, the language here fractures itself in a more sophisticated fashion. The “f”/”b” sound of “foot-ballers” is reversed by the sequential pairing of “orb” and “flew,” but not before “greasy leather,” sandwiched between them, finds its alliterative match at the end of the sentence with “grey light.” The play is kept up with “f” and “r” sounds of the next sentence, beginning with “fringe” and finding more reversal with “rude feet” and “feigning to run.” Stephen sets up phonic chiasma whose crossed lines befuddle the binary; the Manichean world of black-and-white blurs as Stephen extends his tonal range into new harmonious and discordant octaves.When motifs develop across the novel and not just a passage, however, we must concede them to Joyce¹s structural control. Stephen¹s later prediction that “There would be cloudy grey light over the playground” (20) and his eventual aesthetic triumph of “A day of dappled seaborne clouds” reconfigure his growing sensitivity to his interior “periodic prose” under Joyce¹s own attention to periodicity, to the rhythmic pattern of the novel (143). The pun has always been a weapon of play, a double-edged sword that cuts into the ignorance of a monochrome world. Joyce wants his reader to combine appreciation of both narratological and linguistic structures. When Stephen notes that “belt was also to give a fellow a belt,” that the word functions as both a device of self-aid and as a violent action to others, we must remember this as Stephen experiments with other binaries (5). The printed names of “cold and hot” on the faucets in the school lavatory strike him as “queer” (7). That water, the most miscible of substances, should be defined only under two temperatures contradicts Stephen¹s own recognition of the scale of degrees: “He felt cold and then a little hot” (7). At this point in the narrative, this information is just that, factual examples whose intellectual content outweighs any emotional connection we may feel to “hot” and “cold.”By Stephen¹s late adolescence, he explores the same hot/cold binary within a far more intimate framework. When the dean of studies at his university asks Stephen if fire is beautiful, the student¹s response bespeaks why he is, indeed, a student and not a priest: “In so far as it satisfies the animal craving for warmth fire is a good. In hell, however, it is an evil” (159). The confining religious view of fire receives a jab here, and the reader feels something in Stephen¹s response beyond a simple philosophical shift. The next paragraph again adds the intellectual fuel of Joyce¹s structural command to Stephen¹s passionate voice: “Like Ignatius [the dean] was lame but in his eyes burned no spark of Ignatius¹ enthusiasm. Even the legendary craft of the company, a craft subtler and more secret than its fabled books of secret subtle wisdom, had not fired his soul with the energy of apostleship” (160). The repetition of fire imagery”burned no spark” and “fired his soul”still uses the style indirecte as a means of extending the analytic and emotional reach of the words. The reader is able to “face two ways.”As the prose is a fusion of Joyce and Stephen, the novel maintains a vocal rhythm that coincides with Stephen¹s theory of aesthetic appreciation of an object: “you apprehend it as balanced part against part within its limits; you feel the rhythm of its structure. In other words, the synthesis of immediate perception is followed by the analysis of apprehension” (183). By turns immediate perception and analytic apprehension, Portrait, and its component episodes, are also “selfbounded and selfcontained upon the immeasurable background of space or time which is not it” (183). Yet, as we see from the progression of fire imagery, much is lost in the appreciation of the singular as opposed to the total. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, then, with its titular call to the reader to recognize its inherent artistic self-production, is a component part of two larger works: Ulysses and Joyce¹s own life. Although Joyce may not have known he would later write Ulysses, he probably did know that he would keep Stephen Dedalus as a recurring character in some later work, as he often spread his characters across several narratives (especially in Dubliners). In this sense of playing off Ulysses (especially the first three episodes featuring Stephen), Portrait achieves Stephen¹s first definition of rhythmthe “relation of part to part in any esthetic whole” (177). Portrait¹s episodic structure on its own satisfies Stephen¹s second definitionthe relation “of an esthetic whole to its part” (177). Viewing the entirety of Ulysses as the ocean and Portrait as the stream, Portrait finalizes Stephen¹s definition of rhythm: the relation “of any part to the esthetic whole of which it is a part” (177). The autobiography of Portrait rises beyond the lyrical because it assumes the polyphony of Ulysses, and the lambent radiance of the shorter novel¹s “fading coal” retains heat from the fireplace of the epic.This may seem like specious reasoning; by this rationale, anything written now (such as this paper) has the potential to be a greater achievement by virtue of its placement within a future opus. A safer place to look for a reservoir is within Joyce¹s life after he left Dublin. The word polyphony has become a literary catch phrase that derives from its etymological roots of “many voices.” Gary Morson explains in Narrative Freedom: “As Bahktin coined the term, a polyphonic novel is one in which a special relation obtains between author and hero. That relation allows the hero to be truly free, capable of surprising not only other characters but also the author.” The problem of a conventional autobiography in presenting polyphony is that the author and central character are the same person, or altered versions from temporal distance, and the conversation remains monotonous (single-toned, not necessarily “boring”). Joyce nears solving this describing Stephen through an ironic filter. Two prime examples of this come in Stephen¹s anticipation of an epiphany. In Chapter Two, Stephen fantasizes about meeting the “unsubstantial image” of Mercedes and, “alone, surrounded by darkness and silence,” being “transfigured” (54). The abrupt end of the episode leads to a scene of the Dedalus family¹s evictionJoyce¹s realistic version of physical “transfigurement,” actual dislocation of the figure. An even more self-parodying irony occurs in Chapter Four, when Stephen sees a bird shortly after deciding to free himself from religion:”What did it mean? Was it a quaint device opening a page of some medieval book of prophecies and symbols, a hawklike man flying sunward above the sea, a prophecy of the end he had been born to serve and had been following through the mists of childhood and boyhood, a symbol of the artist forging anew in his workshop out of the slugging matter of the earth a new soaring impalpable imperishable being?” (145)Joyce¹s vivisection of his own literary techniques and of the reader¹s ability to “read” the text highlights an essential difference between Joyce¹s irony and typical autobiographical irony. Joyce is not simply an older, wiser version of Stephen. Exile has changed him; although the final image from Stephen¹s diary is that of “the smithy of my soul,” the artist still must “forgethe uncreated conscience” of his race (219). He must make something out of nothing, and not just alter the preexisting. Exile is Stephen¹s only option of escaping the chorus around him, and Joyce makes the reader understand that exile is a way, ultimately, of silencing the pernicious effects of those voices on the expatriate. Exile has given Joyce the ability to understand his former self such that his irony is a result of having shed his sagging accouterments of personality. Joyce is no longer Stephen Dedalus; the ironic distance is the span of knowing a character so intimately, but still being able to reject the dual movements of desire and loathing and beholding the character with objective stasis. James Joyce is Stephen Dedalus¹s as yet “uncreated conscience,” and the final continuumthat of an author who can slide toward or away from his subject with easemoves Portrait out of the genre of autobiography and into that of tragic drama.Works Cited:Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. USA: Barnes & Noble Books, 1999.Morson, Gary Saul. Narrative and Freedom: The Shadows of Time. New Haven and London: Yale UP, 1994. 91.
Politics in Joyce’s “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”
“A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” is a “Kunstlerroman”, and the story of a young artistic aspirant in a particular social setting. That is why the political background of the novel is so important, for it provides the environment for the artist to grow up in. This political and social background therefore remains as an ever-present force in the narrative, introduced in great detail in the first chapter, and providing one of the most potent reasons for Stephen Dedalus’s voluntary exile in the fifth.The background of the novel is the anti-colonial movement against the British in nineteenth century Ireland, which had begun with the Act of Union in 1800, making Ireland a part of the United Kingdom, and abolishing a separate Irish Parliament in Dublin. All through the century various political and social movements arose in Ireland, giving expression to the demands of the Irish for greater control of their own affairs. The Home Rule movement, headed by Charles Stewart Parnell (probably the greatest individual force at that time), is especially relevant to this novel; the Land Reform movement headed by Michael Davitt also comes into play.The first line of the novel catapults the reader into the heated political arena of this period. The baby Stephen is listening to a story told by his father about a “moocow coming down along the road”, which met “a nicens little boy named Baby Tuckoo”1. Here, the cow, being the symbol of Ireland, is brought into direct confrontation with Baby Tuckoo, or Stephen. This confrontation becomes one of the principal themes of the novel, and is brought up whenever the nation is mentioned. For example, even when Stephen is writing his name in the fly-leaf of his Geography book, he cannot limit his address to “Clongowes Wood College, County Kildare, Ireland”, but has to continue as – “Ireland, Europe, The World, The Universe”2 – which implies that even at this age Stephen does not see himself as merely an Irishman, but as a citizen of the Universe. This is backed up later on by the fact that narrow Irish nationalism is rejected by him, and he chooses to leave Ireland for Europe in a self-induced exile.The novel, as stated earlier, is set in the Revolutionary Ireland of 1880—1900, and the history of this period is filtered to us through Stephen’s consciousness. Stephen’s father, a staunch supporter of Parnell, is set against Dante (Stephen’s governess), who is a fanatic supporter of the Catholic Church. The two brushes always kept in Dante’s press – one green, and the other maroon – become politically symbolic, denoting Parnell and Michael Davitt respectively. The colours maroon and green recur constantly throughout the novel, from the green earth and maroon clouds which Fleming had coloured in Stephen’s geography book, to the red and green holly in the Christmas decorations at Stephen’s house. We also later find that Dante rips the green velvet off the back of the green brush to indicate her changed feelings towards Parnell in accordance with his rift with the Catholic Church.The famous Christmas dinner party in the first chapter rudely makes Stephen aware of the viciousness and meanness of politics. But even before this section we have several instances in which we are made aware of the fact that Stephen’s life is never free from politics. One important example of this is the day-dream which Stephen has in the infirmary of Clongowes, of Parnell’s death. It is curious that whenever Stephen thinks of Parnell and his immense popularity, Dante is always involved in one way or another, expressing energetic opposition to the leader. So great is this enmity between the two sides, that Stephen is sometimes confused, expressing pain that he did not know what politics meant. The Christmas dinner brings this to a head, and for the first time he sees the sedate, dignified adults quarrelling bitterly and viciously over matters, the importance of which he, at the age of six, is in no position to understand. He sees Dante screaming with a total lack of control, at those who commit heresy by defying the Church, and witnesses his father and Mr. Casey shouting blasphemies against the priests, and weeping uncontrollably for their dead leader. The seeds of revolt against both Church and State are sown in Stephen’s mind on this very day. He cannot listen to the grievous faults of the Church as a child, and then accept priesthood later in Chapter IV, as a youth, and therefore, in spite of himself, rejects the offer given to him by the Director of Belvedere College.Parnell, however, is far more than just a historical figure, and takes on a powerful symbolical presence in Stephen’s consciousness. His heroic stature takes on tragic dimensions, and this is used by Joyce to unite the religious and political themes in the novel. Though a great political figure, Parnell’s downfall is brought about by religious institutions, and this fact plays a big part in the making of Stephen’s mind from childhood to adulthood. In Chapter V, during his conversation with his friend Davin, Stephen makes a very important statement about those aspects of man’s life which tie him down to certain worldly ideals which he would rather avoid – “The soul is born ……. first in those moments I told you of. It has a slow and dark birth, more mysterious than the birth of the body. When the soul of a man is born in this country there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets”3. In this novel politics, like religion, family, language, and religion, is seen as another of the “nets” flung at the soul “to keep it back from flight”. It is like an obstacle to the artistic spirit, and Stephen resolves to fly by it, as by all the other “nets”. The fifth chapter analyses in detail Stephen’s reasons for rejecting nationalism and nationalistic politics. In accordance with his role as a rebel against authority, he is the lone student who refuses to sign in on McCann’s drive for universal peace. Another instance of swimming against the tide is his refusal to participate in nationalistic politics at the instance of his friend Davin, who is a strong nationalist himself. At that time in Ireland, nationalistic fervour was discovering an outlet in all aspects of traditional Celtic life and culture, one of which was traditional sporting events, through the Gaelic Athletic Association founded by Michael Cusack. Stephen not only detests physical activity, but directly rejects Davin’s appeal to join the mainstream.Stephen also clearly gives us his reasons for this rejection. He likens Ireland to “a sow that eats her own farrow”, for, according to him, his country as a record of betraying precisely those people who have given up their lives and comfort for its cause. He refuses to pay the penalty for the mistakes and conscious acts of betrayal that his ancestors have committed, and resolves to leave his country for the mainland, in order to express himself better as an artist. He remembers with painful bitterness one particular instance which proved to him beyond doubt that Ireland is no place for good art and artists to flourish in – the first performance of Yeats’s play “The Countess Cathleen” at the opening of the Irish Literary Theatre in 1899. The performance had to be stopped midway because of the boos and brickbats flung at it from a bigoted audience which could not separate their religious opinions from true art. Stephen’s implication is that his expression as an artist would be hampered by these same Irishmen if he did not break away from narrow nationalistic bonds.The Irish culture which Stephen rejects is, however, not merely decadent as he interprets it to be. It has an energetic and popular side which he fails to notice, and as such, ignores completely. This popular side had been recognized by Yeats, who had aimed to express this very culture from a distance till his countrymen were progressive enough to accept his ideas and opinions. Stephen does have a vague idea of this role in artistic life through a dream which he records in his diary in the final section of the novel. The dream runs as follows –“A long curving gallery. From the floor ascend pillars of dark vapours. It is peopled by the images of fabulous kings, set in stone. Their hands are folded upon their knees in token of weariness and their eyes are darkened for the errors of men go up before them for ever as dark vapours. Strange figures advance as from a cave. They are not as tall as men. One does not seem to stand quite apart from one another. Their faces are phosphorescent, with darker streaks. They peer at me and their eyes seem to ask me something. They do not speak”4.This dream is suggestive of the dead Irish past which he wants to shake off, symbolized by the busts of Irish kings who can do no more than watch the vapours rising by them, and the procession of deformed creatures walking past them. But these creatures are mutely appealing to Stephen the artist, as if asking him to pull Irish art up from its decadent state. This idea, however, remains submerged in Stephen’s consciousness while he decides to fly across the seas like the mythical Dedalus, to artistic freedom. It will later be dealt with in greater detail in the world-famous sequel to “A Portrait of the Artist” – Joyce’s masterpiece, “Ulysses”.References :1) James Joyce : “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” (Penguin Books, 1992, London), p.3.2) Ibid, p.12.3) Ibid, p.220.4) Ibid, p.272.
The Stream-of-Consciousness Technique and Style in “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”
The best style is that in which the form and the content, the manner and the matter are well-balanced and supportive of each other. The style of “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” was so novel that it drew the attention of readers and critics alike when it was first published in 1914. Yet in spite of its novelty, Joyce’s subject, and the manner in which he expressed it, are fused together in one, inextricable whole. The subject of the novel IS its manner or style, and it is crucial to avoid regarding them as separate entities. It is also true that the language emerges out of the character of Stephen Dedalus, for Joyce’s major innovation in this novel is the modulation of styles throughout, using a different style in each section to underline each stage of the development of the character, and using a less mature language to match Stephen’s expression in his boyhood days. The stream-of-consciousness technique is a direct manifestation of Joyce’s general disposition towards imitation, onomatopoeia, and parody. This technique is used for the first time in English in “A Portrait of the Artist”, using a method which had already been popularized in France by Proust, and is therefore an entirely new approach to writing in England. No doubt, this technique is not yet perfected in this novel, as we find in Joyce’s second novel “Ulysses”, but it is used admirably in “A Portrait” in order to bring about a fusion between manner and matter – a purpose in which he succeeds indubitably. He had experimented with a similar technique in some of the stories of “The Dubliners”, occasionally adapting language to suit the viewpoint of a character, but in “A Portrait” this method is given full-scale treatment for the first time, and it reveals in full the great range of Joyce’s stylistic virtuosity.This fact becomes clear in the very first section of the novel, which opens with baby-talk to suit the infant, who is so young that he still wets his bed. This language is basically monosyllabic, with short, direct sentences. The simple vocabulary has very little use of pronouns and an excessive repetition of the conjunction “and”, so as to evoke the simplicity of a child just learning to speak. There is, for example, the “moocow” story in the very first line of the novel, told in a style which adults think is appropriate for children, for it is a story that Stephen’s, or “Baby Tuckoo’s” father tells him. We also have the baby trying to lisp his favourite song, “The wild rose blossoms / In the little green place”, thus – “The green wothe botheth”1.Stephen’s growth is implicit in the change of style between the first and second sections, and the development in style is just enough to suit the six-year old Stephen in Clongowes Wood College. He is still learning about the world around him, and he is from this age itself interested in words (which will later become the raw materials of his art as a writer) – their sounds and meanings, and the relationship between the two. For instance, even at this age he notices the double meaning of the word “bell”, the relationship between the sound and meaning of the onomatopoeic words “suck” and “kiss”, and the relationship between “hot” and “cold”, even in symbolic terms. Yet, it all is encompassed in the language of a child, as in the repetition of words and sentences in his account of Wells pushing him into the square ditch. The same thing is to be seen in the pandybat episode. Before the prefect of studies enters the room, the prose imitates the idleness of Stephen’s meandering thoughts, which take a loose conversational form, emphasized by a loose kind of syntax. As soon as the prefect arrives, the style becomes brisk and abrupt, and the narrator again adopts the dramatic mode to indicate urgency and fear. This, again, is characterized by the repetition of key phrases like “cruel and unfair”.The dramatic manner of narration is best illustrated in the account of the Christmas dinner party in the first chapter, in which the reader feels something of the strained atmosphere throughout the narration. This section is probably the one which is least connected with the stream-of-consciousness method, for Stephen’s mind is so shocked at the behaviour and language of grown-ups, and is so totally engaged by the fearful quarrel taking place before his eyes, that he does not have the opportunity to think for himself while the incident is in progress.The second chapter, tracing Stephen’s adolescence from the first awakening of sexuality and his growing isolation from his family, has a greater fragmentation of styles than the first, and these various styles are often mixed together to show Stephen’s outer and inner realities coming into contact with each other. In Chapter I Stephen came into contact with words through the reality of life in school and at home. In Chapter II the reverse happens, and he begins to apprehend reality imaginatively through words and symbols. This imaginative interpretation of external reality continues till Chapter IV, after which, in Chapter V, Stephen comes into maturity and loses this romantic personal world. In Chapter II, though the narrator escapes into the labyrinth of language, there are contrasting passages of vivid descriptions of cheerless reality, in expressions like “stale odours of the foreshore” and “foul, green puddles and clots of liquid dung”, which echo the “square ditch” images of the first chapter. Joyce’s stylistic perfection is best seen when, after such nauseating observations, the second chapter ends with Stephen finding an avenue of escape in romantic literature, searching for an idealized woman to match his own dreams. Till the end of Chapter IV Stephen’s flight of spirit expressed in language clashes with images of external reality – as in the description of the two removal vans. This is also seen in the colour imagery that is used throughout the novel. Maroon and green are political colours, representing Michael Davitt and Parnell respectively. White is a cold colour, symbolizing lack of emotion and joy. Cream is a warm colour, associated with emotion and feeling. Yellow and brown are all through shown as colours associated with paralysis and decay.In Chapter II we have images of labyrinths and being lost (the connection with the labyrinth created by the mythical Dedalus cannot be accidental). Here we have Stephen’s escapes into the labyrinthine streets of Dublin, and this is described in an objective, explicit style, in contrast with the earlier romantic attitude of adolescence. This chapter ends with the seductive, sensual prose style of the brothel, which is direct parody of the earlier romanticism that he expressed in the dreams of Mercedes and the Count of Monte Cristo. The embrace of the prostitute is an ironical parallel to his earlier projections of ideal love. This sensual language is continued in the beginning of Chapter III, in the coarse, fleshy descriptions of his degeneration, and full of bestial imagery.Father Arnall sermons in the Retreat section are presented in a quite different vein – in direct, dramatic speech, but clearly filtered through Stephen’s own consciousness. That is why Stephen’s reactions and the words of the sermon are alternated without any dividing line between the two. These sermons therefore, become a masterpiece of technique, rather than a mere example of the doctrinal and crude rhetoric of the Church. The very fact that they are couched in the typical Catholic register, and are almost a word by word transcription of Pinamonti’s 17th century pamphlet bring out the satirical purpose of their use. Father Arnall’s sermons are based on medieval and 17th century models, but the three sections of Chapter IV are constructed on styles adapted from 19th century writers. The second section, particularly, reminds us strongly of Stephen’s beloved Cardinal Newman, therefore also reflecting his growing maturity in language use. The final section of Chapter IV is a direct contrast to the cool, rational, restraint of the Newman-type style, especially in the description of the culminating epiphany, where the language suddenly becomes exuberant and free, sometimes even wild, to match the triumphant realization of Stephen’s soul. Repetitions and polysyndetons abound, in order to build up this feeling.Taking into account the gradual maturing of the language of Stephen Dedalus while he grows to maturity, the final chapter shows a sophisticated, literary language, in accordance with his purpose of becoming a literary artist. However, often the style becomes artificial and stilted. For example in the literary theory section and in the conversation with the Dean of Studies, the language is the cold, impersonal style of rational discourse. On the other hand, his fantasies centred on Emma echoes the romantic style that is so effectively parodied in Chaper II. The linguistic styles of Chapter V are both fragmented and diverse. Here we see not the finished artist, but one still trying to come to terms with the “nets” around him, and his function in the world around him. An inkling of the free stream-of –conscious style that is typical of the mature Joyce is found in the diary at the end – the manner of writing that will be used so effectively later in “Ulysses”.References1) James Joyce : “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” (Penguin Books, 1992, London), p.3.