The Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man Analysis

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AP English
Essay #1
September 12, 2011

All readers can learn something from Literature. It is purposeful and has a further meaning then the reader gets right after reading. It takes time to really understand and appreciate the work. The author has meaning for what he or she writes, and may not always demonstrate it clearly; but in the end the author reveals the tools necessary to understand the purpose of everything and all the hard work they put into the book. Each person has a set values and his or her own beliefs. Religion is one part of someone’s belief system. It can really define who someone is and their life, depending on how devoted to their church he or she is. Other people can struggle with the subject of religion all their life because it may be too hard to understand and accept, they may think they are not good enough to be saved, or maybe they just do not know if it is right for them. Parents often pass down their own beliefs and religious values to their children, such as the Dedalus family. Stephen’s parents are strong and devote Catholics that have shown this by putting Stephen in a Jesuit school, Clongowes, as a young child (20). Since he is young, he is still finding out who he is and who he wants to become. He has always been fascinated by women in general, and especially Emma. When Stephen is older, he soon thinks its sinful how he thinks of them, but gives into his temptation and sleeps with a number of prostitutes (109). This is such an internal struggle for Stephen because he feels that his sins are too great to be forgiven, especially when his lustful desire still wants to commit these sins; but he was raised in a religion in which such sins were bad and frowned upon (112). At the retreat where one was to examine one’s self, Stephen hears the preacher’s words about dying and hell and thought they were meant for him. He then decided he would confess of all his sins, more out of being frightened of what could happen to him after death versus coming back to complete servitude because he wanted to worship God (132-3). After confessing, he was happy to know that he was forgiven, and for the next couple of years he devoted his life to prayers, attending mass, and leading a Catholic life devoid of any sins he could consciously commit (154). Stephen got angry with himself because he was still not perfect and had many imperfections, which in turn made his spirit “dry and disappointed” (157). Although he was completely dedicated to the church on the outside, he still questioned parts of his faith, that if his prayers for the people in purgatory really did anything for them (153); or if it was still sinful to want to commit a sin, though keeping himself from the temptation (154). All the devoutness over the last couple years led the priest to ask Stephen if he would join the church work (163). Stephen ultimately decided to refuse the opportunity of office, even though he thought that was where his life would lead him through boyhood, and instead going off an instinct to go study at the university (170). The thought of being a priest repelled him, in that he didn’t want to fully devote his life anymore to the church, and he didn’t want to have to worry about every single sin he committed. He wanted to live a normal life and do the things that made him happy, and that’s why he chose not to worship (240). Consequently, his religious epiphany of not wanting to be involved in the church was also a part of why Stephen later decided why he wanted to leave Ireland.

People should want to be a part of their country, and love and support it. One should be proud of what his country stands for. In Stephen’s life, his nationality has never really been highly important to him as it has been for other people in his life. Even as a kid at Clongowes, he isn’t happy being where he is. He always complains about everything being cold and damp (24). When he writes down his location on his paper, he...
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