Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Analysis
Throughout the first chapter of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce uses Stephen to paint a portrait of himself as young child. Many of the things said about Stephen seem to match up with his life as a child. From the beginning, one of Stephens’s main features is his development with words and there meanings. On the first page you are aware of Stephen being a young child by using words used such as moocow or baby tuckoo. Among the people Stephen encounters, Joyce attempts to use words that are suitable and appropriate to the mind of Stephen. For example every time Stephen thinks or talks about Eileen the same descriptions come up with how her hands are cold and soft like ivory. “ The word was beautiful: wine. It made you think of dark purple because the grapes were dark purple that grew in Greece outside houses like white temples.” The deeper the story goes there is more development with Stephen and what he thinks of words and what they remind him of. When something happens to Stephen he always seems to associate it with a feeling of some sort. This is a beginning stage of Stephen’s development as an artist. When Stephen is pushed into the dirty water, he continues to associate it in his mind with slimy and cold. “… the quiet air the sound of the cricket bats: pick, pack, pock, puck: like drops of water in a fountain falling softly in the brimming bowl.” Stephen is thinking this after he has told the rector that he was falsely accused. I think that it seems like the noises of the cricket bats seemed to calm him, and remind him that everything is back to how it used to be.
Being a reader of this book, you are able to see both an internal and external view of Stephen. As a reader you must differentiate between Stephen’s actions and his thoughts. Joyce does a good job at giving both views for a specific event. When Father Arnall is about to pandy Stephen you see Stephens anguish and fright from an onlooker perspective, “ A hot burning stinging tingling blow like the loud crack of a broken stick made his trembling hand crumble together like a leaf in the fire.” but when it is over and he is thinking about what happened it is in the view of Stephen’s thoughts. “ How could the prefect of studies know that it was a trick?” I felt very sympathetic for Stephen, I didn’t understand why he was being punished for something that he didn’t do and even if he did do that he wouldn’t have deserved to be pandied. But when you see how scared and frightened Stephen was it made it seem very important. When Mr. Dedalus tells Stephen that he heard about the incident and talked with the rector about it and they laughed about it that makes it seem like it was a joke.
When the Dedalus family begins to lose their money and also lose all there furniture in their house. It usually seems to be something that would make you depressed, but for Stephen he avoids depression by only focusing on his imaginary world. This might be because he doesn’t understand what it is going on but it also could be his way of coping with it. Since Stephen isn’t in school he goes on long walks on his own through Dublin, on these long walks he goes on crazy adventures. Stephen based these adventures on the book the Count of Monte Cristo. Stephen is very inward, and keeps all his strong feelings locked in side this is shown in: “ He wanted to meet in the real world the unsubstantial image which his soul constantly beheld.” Stephen had all these feelings he expressed partly through his imagination but the all rest of his feelings were locked inside and he didn’t know how to release him.
In the first chapter of A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man Joyce uses a fictional character, Stephen to paint a portrait of himself as a child. Most of the occurrences in this story are based off a James Joyce’s childhood, and where he grew up. Stephen’s artistic development is a big part of how he as a character grows up and how it relates back to Joyce’s life.
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