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James's Joyce's 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man'.

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Introduction

In James's Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man the portrait is of Stephen Dedalus. He, the protagonist, narrates the novel and through his eyes we see his development from a shy, almost curious boy to a rebellious and independent young man. Stephen seeks a way out of his restraints. In Stephen's case, these are family, country and religion. Joyce uses symbolism as well as language and imagery to show Stephen's development. In a sense, Portrait of the Artist is a search for identity. Chapter One contains several first-times for young Stephen Dedalus: he sits at the adult table, he interacts with peers in a new place (Clongowes), he is punished, he seeks justice, and his peers publicly recognize him. ...read more.

Middle

But there could not be; and it was unjust and cruel and unfair." Stephen finds he must learn to rely on his own inner resources to liberate himself from obstacles. Stephen's happiness in winning the essay contest in Chapter Two and lavishly squandering his money is replaced by shame and embarrassment in trying to, "build a breakwater of order and elegance against the sordid tide of life." Furthermore, Stephen succumbs to sex, surrendering his escape from the filth and poverty of Dublin to his consuming emotions of yearnings of adolescence. Just as Stephen's sexual experience symbolizes his transition from boyhood to manhood, the family's move to Dublin and Stephen's move to Belvedere College symbolize a move away from adolescence and closer to adulthood. ...read more.

Conclusion

As a result, Stephen is required to detach himself from his present environment and become the artist. Finally, in Chapter Five Stephen becomes discouraged and frustrated by others who do not understand him and needs independence desperately. Stephen finds pseudo-freedom while attending the university, however not complete freedom. Stephen's lecture to Lynch about the meaning of beauty, was symbolic of his attempt to rise above his mundane surroundings. Stephen, in search for the aesthetic, is incessantly inundated with those who criticize him for separating himself from his culture. Even Stephen's "priest like" friend, Cranly, advises him to conform to the wishes of his family and fellow students. Stephen leaves Dublin to escape criticism from those who could not grasp the working of his mind. In writing A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce succeeded in symbolically depicting Stephen's journey to manhood and independence as entirely internal. ...read more.

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