Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Symbolism and Imagery in Chapters 3 & 4

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dence)Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
In James Joyce’s supposedly timeless novel, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Joyce uses symbolism and imagery to allude to mythology, and Christian allusions as well, in all kinds of different ways, even in Stephen’s surname, Dedalus. This mastery of imagery adds a whole new layer to the novel, if only for the more learned audience that understands these allusions. The allusions referred to in this essay are those in chapters three and four of the novel, as they are very apparent in this section of the literature. In Chapter III, Stephen goes to a three-day retreat where he hears multiple sermons about the condemnation of the guilty to Hell, and his senses are put into overload as his artistic mind conjures up what Hell will sound, smell, taste, and feel like, but not much emphasis on what it will look like as Stephen, like Joyce, has poor eyesight and relies on his other senses that much more. During these three days, Stephen is torments himself in his own personal version of Hell, undergoing physical anguish, along with the spiritual and mental torture that accompanies the burning agony of Hell he dwells upon. In the same way that Stephen is entrapped in his personal Hell due to his disobedience and sins he commits against the Lord, his mythical namesake, Daedalus, was cast into the labyrinth that was his own creation when he disobeyed orders from King Minos. In Daedalus’ story, he was in the labyrinth with the terrifying Minotaur, just as Stephen is threatened by the many beasts within his own soul. Also, this chapter parallels the story of Jonah in the Bible, where he was kept within the belly of the whale for three days until he repented of his disobedience and was cast out of the great fish, so is Stephen trapped until he repents of his sin after three days of agonizing suffering, and through sincere confession he begins to fly free from condemnation, much like his mythical namesake. These three days...
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