Artists Comparison Essay

1310 words - 6 pages

Tammie Lopez
Eng. 326
Final Paper

Artists From a Readers Perspective

The term artist refers to a person who produces works in any of the arts that are primarily

subject to aesthetic criteria. Artists such as Stephen Dedalus from James Joyces’ Portrait of the

Artist as a Young Man and Lily Briscoe from Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse are both

equally affected by how society interprets their art. These two characters embody their author’s

perspectives on what it means to grow and be a true artist. At the same time they receive

contrasting messages from the society around them, which in turn affects how they view their

own art.

Stephen and Lily ...view middle of the document...

In a way she is more unsure of

herself, skeptical and never really secure with the idea that art is what she loves to do. Lily also

seeks connections to the world, which surrounds her, where as Stephen does not, Stephen does

not desire those connections because he is confident in his life choices and confident enough to

be alone.

This is the exact opposite of Lily’s situation. Stephen is a sensitive and intellectual

person and was even so as a younger boy. Although he has siblings, his parents decide to send

only him to the expensive Clongowes Wood College, where he is initially an outcast, but by the

end of his schooling there proves himself to be both smart and capable of standing up to any

injustices. Stephen’s time at Belvedere College further illustrates his intellectual superiority. He

earns the reputation of being one of the smartest boys there and his teachers and classmates

respect his level of intelligence. The only consequence that this positive reinforcement has is

that it gives Stephen the confidence to be his own isolated person and to eventually leave Ireland

to pursue his art of writing. Stephen states “I do not fear to be alone…And I am not afraid to

make a mistake, even a great mistake” (Joyce 218). From this positive feedback and respect that

Stephen has received on behalf of his classmates, teachers and society as a whole he conjures up

the courage to face the world alone for the sake of pursuing his art.

These two characters view their art and the effect it has on society around them very

Differently. Lily views her painting in the exact opposite way that Stephen views his writing.

While lily is consumed by her work, thinking about painting even when she is not at her easel,

she never likes to share her work with others. William Banks is the only person that Lily lets see

her painting and even that makes her brush shake. Woolf describes Lily’s interaction with

Banks, “she did not, as she would have done has it been Mr. Tansley, Paul Rayley, Minta Doyle,

or practically anybody else, turn her canvas upon the grass, but let it stand” (Woolf 17-18). This

nervousness and lack of confidence is a stark contrast to the sureness that Stephen feels. Lily

simply does not have the same lofty hopes about her art that Stephen has about his writing. Lily

thinks her art “…would be hung in the servants’ bedrooms. It would be rolled up and stuffed

under a sofa. What was the good of doing it then, and she heard some voice saying she couldn’t

paint, saying she couldn’t create…” (Woolf 158-159). She is very skeptical of herself and her

talents as an artist. “It would be hung in attics, she thought; it would be destroyed. But what...

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