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Stephen Dedalus in James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist

Stephen Dedalus in James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist

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Stephen Dedalus in James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist

Stephen Dedalus in James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist

2|Page .It was his own soul going forth to experience. unfolding itself sin by sin. fading slowly. spreading abroad the balefire of its burning stars and folding back upon itself. quenching its own lights and fires.

................. The struggle for a title of an artist..................................10 6.................................................................................3 2................................ Achieving independence..................................................................................................... What does the journal represents?.........................................11 7......... Analysis of the character Stephen Dedalus...................... Conclusion..4 3..................................................................................................................... Introduction.. Literature.....................................7 4..........................Content 1....................12 3|Page .....9 5.................................................................................................................................................

and is essential of the understanding of the latter work. but it is far more than that and covers many of the issues of conscience. Wordsworth Editions Limited 4|Page . Portrait of the Artist. and feeling that are at the centre of Western Culture and „Art“ in its broadest sense. It is a classical of Ireland and Irishness at the time of the birth of the Irish Free State. he must rid himself of stultifying effects of the religion. who reappears in Ulysses. being. The novel is highly autobiographical account of the adolescence and youth of Stephan Daedalus. 1992. and who comes to realize that before he can become a true artist. 1 1 James Joyce. this is perhaps the most accessible of Joyce’s works. politics and essential bigotry of his background in late 19th century Ireland. art. Written with lighter touch.Introduction A Portrait of the Artist represents the transitional stage between the realism of Joyce’s Dubliners and the symbolism of Ulysses.

the church and Irish nationalism. flew too close to the sun.2 Through the novel we follow Stephen from his early boyhood. having to leave his homeland in order to confront the wider world and thereby to work through the spectrum of conscience. August 2003. Both his surname and given names have symbolic significance. and the guilt astounding his awakening sexuality and the sometimes precocious adventures which spring from it. He is the central character of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and a major character in Ulysses. and UNIVERSITY COLLEGE. This leads. Stephen writes in his diary: “Old father. Stephen was the name of the first Christian martyr. Like Dedalus. his point of view shapes the perspective of the work. stand me now and ever in good stead” (P 252–253). he must use artifice and cunning to escape his own imprisonment—by the institutions of the family. to a consideration of the role of the artist and his destiny. stoned to death for his religious convictions. The book traces Stephen’s intellectual. As the central consciousness of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Stephen Dedalus is a young boy who grapples with his nationality.) Like the first Christian martyr with whom he shares a given name. to his decision to leave Ireland for the Continent. These deteriorating economic conditions develop rapidly 2 Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (SparkNotes Literature Guide) by James Joyce.Analysis of the character Stephen Dedalus To be able to create a portrait of Stephen Dedalus. artistic. the wax melted. The novel also follows the decline of the Dedalus family from upper-middle-class respectability to abject poverty. Stephen’s actions and attitudes set the pace and frame the development of the discourse. old artificer. James Joyce used his own life and transformed this autobiographical story into a life of Stephen Dedalus. breaks from tradition and faces persecution by his peers. religion. in the later part of the book. noting the progressive alienation of Stephen from his family as an almost inevitable consequence. family. DUBLIN. and moral development from his earliest recollections as “Baby Tuckoo” through the various stages of his education at CLONGOWES WOOD COLLEGE. and morality. BELVEDERE COLLEGE. 5|Page . a growing crisis in his faith. bullying at school. and he plunged into the Ionian Sea and drowned. in advancing a new cause. Stephen. Dedalus (or Daedalus as the name appears in Stephen Hero) was the mythical “fabulous artificer” who made feathered wings of wax with which he and his son Icarus escaped imprisonment on the island of Crete. Although he does not narrate the novel. (Icarus. however.

to attempt to fly by those nets of nationality. After a period of unrestrained sexual indulgence while at Belvedere. he is about to leave Dublin to live in Paris. as he writes in his diary. As a consequence. language. Vincent Lynch proposes small-scale debauchery as a means of sustaining himself in the suffocating atmosphere of Dublin middle-class life. However. cultural. and religion and. terrified by the images conjured up during the sermons at the retreat recounted in chapter 3. Stephen has given himself completely over to art. By the end of chapter 4. However. to sell off the last of the family property. and political institutions. In the final chapter. he finds that the prescribed spiritual exercises do not give him the satisfaction for which he had hoped. punctuated by the family’s move into Dublin and Simon Dedalus’s disastrous trip to Cork. his relations with the church are characterized by a much greater degree of uncertainty and vacillation. Cranly. with perhaps the most seductive temptation. Stephen embarks upon a rigorous penitential regimen. 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. 6|Page . Davin seeks to enlist him in the nationalist cause.in the second chapter. accompanied by Stephen. Stephen rejects all of these alternatives and remains devoted to his artistic vocation. As the novel closes. religious. it is no surprise that Stephen’s distancing from his family occurs in a direct and linear fashion. Stephen returns to the church. the Birdgirl on Dollymount Strand. Given these events. with his erotically charged aesthetic vision of the young woman wading. suggests that Stephen adopt the hypocrisy of superficial accommodation as a way of liberating himself from the censure of his fellow citizens. a number of Stephen’s college classmates attempt in different ways to integrate him into the routine of Dublin life and thus bring him under the sway of dominant Irish social.

The struggle might conceivably recur. 1917. he has a rare keenness of feeling. he has extra subtle senses. but is still looking for a formula to work by.” New Republic x. helpless against the ruin.3 3 Excerpt from a review by Francis Hacke “Green Sickness. no. the life of the mind. 138– 139. Lounging feebly among this squalor we find Stephen. So convenient a theory for the lounger! Yet Stephen is better than his theory. for the things of the soul. All this is true and pathetic.The struggle for a title of an artist At the end Stephen has not yet proved his title to the name of artist. pp. Among the new-fangled heroes of the newest fiction devoted to the psychology of youth he is almost unique in having known at least once a genuine sense of sin and undergone a genuine struggle. For heat and cold and discomfort. At his best he is a master. True also to this kind of youth is the halfexpressed notion that mainly by sin he is to win his way to mental salvation. Joyce’s literary gift is beyond praise. 7|Page . For the pace of the world. for the atmosphere of persons and companies. too.). He is a sensitivist. It is almost without narrative that he depicts inimitably the condition of the Dedalus family in its prosperity and the nameless squalor which it falls into when fortune fails. and from the lounger emerges the man and the artist. 122 (Mar 3. keenly concerned for intellectual experience and for a faith his mind can live by. but with life in him. There is drama in Stephen. His methods are hard to define. and his interpreter gives this exquisite expression.

Stephen cannot return to ClongowesWood College because his father can no longer afford the fees: ‘‘In a vague way he understood that his father was in trouble and that this was the reason why he himself had not been sent back to Clongowes. intellectual. In the second. Since we see the world from Stephen’s perspective.’’ but he still does not know what they mean: ‘‘It pained him that he did not know well what politics meant and that he did not know where the universe ended. and these changes in what he had deemed unchangeable were so many slight shocks to his boyish conception of the world’’ (P. 67). he records only how it affects his own ‘‘boyish conception of the world. but he soon moves into the more complicated socialization process. Instead. We can chart Stephen’s development throughout the novel by his capacity to rationalize the world around him. He might never find out where the universe ends. He felt small and weak. We first find him passively processing the world through his body. As Stephen learns about the world. and fourth chapters. The childlike simplicity of the first chapter gives way to an increasingly sophisticated style that mimics Stephen’s intellectual growth.Portrait follows Stephen Dedalus from childhood until about the age of twenty. When would he be like the fellows in poetry and rhetoric?’’ (P. the dramatic action is organized around the formative moments that lead up to Stephen’s decision to become an artist and leave Ireland. he thinks about big ideas like ‘‘politics’’ and ‘‘the universe. and artistic development. Early on in Chapter 2. For some time he had felt the slight changes in his house. for instance. the language becomes more complex because his mind is developing. At Clongowes Wood College when still a young boy. and he is beginning to find ways to express himself. 14). his observations are accompanied by more intense intellectual reflections. big ideas like politics and the universe will begin to make sense to him.’’ 8|Page . third. As Stephen gets older. The plot proceeds chronologically and each chapter identifies a significant stage in his emotional. we do not get an explanation for the financial causes behind these changes in the Dedalus household. but he will be able to find his place in it. As the title itself implies.

brothers. and Emma are a necessary step in finding a voice and their fragmentary form provides another example of the individualized voice we come to know in his more adult conversations with Davin. and Cranly. prostitutes. composed a villanelle. 186)? He has sketched an aesthetic theory borrowed from Aristotle and Aquinas. 4 Stephen. 33). For Stephen. but he will have his own reasons for associating the Church with betrayal.Achieving independence Stephen can achieve his independence only by imagining that the entire city of Dublin is out to betray him. as his aunt suspected. remembers these words. New York. Aquinas and the villanelle will not give him the form he needs for any revolutionary mode of literary expression. and kept a private journal. is precisely what gave Joyce the necessary ironic distance through which he could paint this semiautobiographical portrait. Most obsessions can be traced back to an early and traumatic childhood experience. The first two exercises demonstrate that he has the potential for deep thought (philosophy and poetry). Although Stephen vows ‘‘to recreate life out of life. 9|Page . Neither will the journal. it was a portrait of one who has the potential. 2006. To punish him. hope. Upon rereading his villanelle. priests. He is obsessed with betrayal and looks at everyone around him as a potential traitor: fathers. But these reflections on friends. when he breaks his glasses during recess and returns to class unable to complete his assignment the prefect of studies. Father Dolan beats Stephen’s hands with a stick. accuses him of being a ‘‘lazy little schemer’’ (P. 4 Eric Bulson: The Cambridge Introduction to James Joyce. and vision to become an artist. The qualification of Stephen as a young man. it is the explosive Christmas dinner scene when he hears his father rage against the Catholic Church for leaving Parnell in his hour of need: ‘‘When he was down they turned on him to betray him and rend him like rats in the sewer’’ (P.’’ does he really have that much to show for it at the end of the novel (P. Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press. and friends. It was not a portrait of the artist as a ‘‘fully-grown man.’’ Instead. 51). but Stephen would be the first to admit that they are more valuable as a process than as a final product. or young cat. even he admits in his journal that he has found ‘‘vague words for a vague emotion’’ (P. 274). Lynch. Late in Chapter 1. Father Dolan. crushes. talent. family.

If you read Ulysses. New York. 1995. Even more daunting is the fact that he has brought upon himself the monumental task of ‘‘forging’’ nothing less than the ‘‘uncreated conscience’’ of an entire race. A more skeptical reading of Stephen emphasizes above all that this declaration of independence is also a moment of uncertainty. Latin. and home. 275–76). the world. Unlike his fictional fellow countrymen. we must remember. 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’’ (P. and the universe beyond.5 5 A.’’ The question of what and where he wants to create or copy is ambiguous. and the novel never tells us.What does the journal represents? The journal represents the public exposure of a private voice. An imprint of InfoBase Publishing. you get to find out what happens. 10 | P a g e . nation. The penultimate journal entry is a case in point: ‘‘Welcome. and fear. Emboldened by this newly acquired voice. Inc. one that he has wrested forcefully from the more dominant voices of his church. and European Models. Stephen makes some big promises. Stephen seems more convinced that he might actually succeed in bringing Ireland to Europe. The act of becoming symbolic of his race requires that Stephen transcend the geographical borders of his country and break down the stereotypes of his countrymen through his art. hesitation. Stephen. He will be Irish by leaving Ireland for Europe and by writing about his experience through Greek. Hugh Kenner has noted that the verb ‘‘forge’’ plays on the dual meaning of ‘‘create’’ from scratch and ‘‘copy. Facts On File. is not sure exactly what he is going to do once he leaves Ireland. NICHOLAS FARGNOLI MICHAEL PATRICK GILLESPIE: Critical Companion to James Joyce: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work.

11 | P a g e .mindedness. provincialism and narrow. a literary device that portrays a character’s thoughts. In this work Joyce uses a stream – of – consciousness technique called interior monologue. his search for an identity as a writer and his realisation that before he can be a writer he must free himself from the suffocating effects of Irish religion.Conclusion The novel Portrait of the Artist describes Stephen Dedalus intellectual development.

Palgrave. James Joyce: Portrait of the Artist. 1995.). no. Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press. 138–139. NICHOLAS FARGNOLI MICHAEL PATRICK GILLESPIE: Critical Companion to James Joyce: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work. 6. London. August 2003. New Republic x. 2006. 1917. James Joyce: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (SparkNotes Literature Guide) .Literature: 1. 3. A. Michael Alexander: A History of English Literature. Inc. 1992. New York. Eric Bulson: The Cambridge Introduction to James Joyce. Wordsworth Editions Limited. 122 (Mar 3. pp. 2. Facts On File. Excerpt from a review by Francis Hacke Green Sickness. 12 | P a g e . 5. 2002. New York. 4. An imprint of InfoBase Publishing.

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