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Stephen In A Portrait Of The Artist By James Joyce

2541 words - 11 pages

Stephen in A Portrait of the Artist by James Joyce

Stephen Dedalus, the main character in most of James Joyce's writings, is said to be a reflection of Joyce himself. In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the reader follows Stephen as he develops from a young child into a young artist, overcoming many conflicts both internally and externally, and narrowly escaping a life long commitment to the clergy. Through Joyce's use of free indirect style, all of Stephen's speech, actions, and thoughts are filtered through the narrator of the story. However, since Joyce so strongly identifies with Stephen, his character's style and personality greatly influence the narrator. This use of ...view middle of the document...

36). "Her fair hair had streamed out behind her like gold in the sun" (p.43). To Stephen that is the meaning of House of Gold. He then attributes Eileen's ivory hands to the fact that she is a girl and generalized these traits to all females. This produces a major conflict for Stephen when his tutor, Dante, tells him not to play with Eileen because she is a Protestant and Protestants don't understand the Catholic faith and therefore will make a mockery of it. His ideas about women being unattainable are confirmed. The Virgin Mary is divine and therefore out of reach for mortals. Now Eileen, the human representation of the Blessed Mary, is out of reach as well because Stephen is not allowed to play with her.
In chapter two an amazing transformation takes place in Stephen from a young innocent child who believes women are unattainable and who idealizes the Virgin Mary, into a young teen with awakening sexual desires. As Stephen matures into adolescence, he becomes increasingly aware of his sexuality, which at times is confusing to him. At the beginning of the second chapter in A Portrait, we find Stephen associating feminine beauty with the heroine Mercedes in Alexander Dumont Pere's The Count of Monte Cristo. "Outside Blackrock, on the road that led to the mountains, stood a small whitewashed house in the garden of which grew many rosebushes: and in this house, he told himself, another Mercedes lived….there appeared an image of himself, grown older and sadder, standing in a moonlit garden with Mercedes who had so many years before slighted his love…"(p. 62-3). These fantasies about Mercedes are the first real step for Stephen in challenging the church's view of women, but again he feels as though this image of women is out of his reach. She is a fictional character in a Romantic Adventure novel and he can only imagine himself with her. Although Mercedes may not be real, the feelings that Stephen has and the emotions she provokes in him are very real. "…As he brooded upon her image, a strange unrest crept into his blood." (p.64). "…but a premonition which led him on told him that this image would, without any overt act of his, encounter him… and in that moment of supreme tenderness he would be transfigured. He would fade into something impalpable under her eyes and then in a moment, he would be transfigured. Weakness and timidity and inexperience would fall from him that magic moment." (p.65). Stephen realizes that some transformation is going to take place, and Joyce emphasizes the words "transfigured" and "moment" to indicate the kind of impact it will have on Stephen.
At this point in the novel, Stephen attributes this "premonition" to his attraction to young Emma Clery. "…Amid the music and laughter her glance traveled to his corner, flattering, taunting, searching, exciting his heart." "…Sprays of her fresh warm breath flew gaily above her cowled head and her shoes tapped blithely on the glassy road." (p. 69). As...

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