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A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man, James Joyce and Myth of Daedalus and Icarus

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Introduction

A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN, James Joyce The Myth of Daedalus and Icarus Daedalus, an ingenious Athenian craftsman, having murdered a potential rival, fled with his son Icarus to the island of Crete. There he was commissioned by King Minos to design a labyrinth as a place of confinement for the monster Minotaur. Daedalus contrived a labyrinth so intricate that escape from it was virtually impossible. By falling into disfavor with the king, Daedalus himself, along with his son Icarus, were eventually imprisoned there. Not to be outdone, the "famous artificier," Daedalus explained to his son Icarus that, although their escape was checked by land and by sea, the open sky was free. He devised two pairs of wings, and father and son immediately took flight from Crete. ...read more.

Middle

You know something of birds and their migrations, of the history of human flight, of air travel and air raids, of rockets to the moon and air disasters, of the eagle that stands for national sovereignty and the dove which symbolizes purity of spirit. This is a fascinating and significant subject, but complex, difficult. In Joyce's symbolic language, Dublin is a modern labyrinth, a place of confinement, from which Stephen must escape. To Stephen, the city represents a shabby, dusty world of restraint and spiritual paralysis. At times, Stephen is identified with the crafty inventor Daedalus (his namesake), and at other times, with Icarus, the ill-fated rebellious son. Think carefully about the several dimensions of the problem of human flight. ...read more.

Conclusion

3. How does Stephen embody characteristics of both Daedalus and Icarus? (Use specific examples) 4. Critics have said that the two most important symbolic clusters in the novel are those polarizing around water/immersion and bird/flight. Discuss how Portrait draws on the myth and elaborates on it. 5. Discuss in detail the appropriateness of the title A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. 6. Pick out at least three "epiphanies" that Stephen experiences and describe the degree of wisdom that he gains from each. 7. Relate any one scene-symbolically, thematically, and architecturally-to the overall novel. 8. Trace and discuss the religious symbolism of the several meals mentioned in the novel. 9. Locate and cite the appearances of water in the novel. Discuss why you think Joyce uses this symbol and what is the effect. 10. Relate any one scene-symbolically, thematically, and architecturially-to the overall novel. ...read more.

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