The Use of Epiphany in the Works of James Joyce

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  • Topic: Short story, Dubliners, Boy
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  • Published : September 18, 2008
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The use of Epiphany through Isolation

In the stories, Eveline, Araby, and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce, Joyce concludes these three stories in his trademark literary style of epiphany; this is achieved through the protagonist’s direct isolation from his/her own bleak reality. Joyce interprets an epiphany as a moment of realization: “By epiphany, Joyce meant a sudden revelation, a moment when an ordinary object is perceived in a way that reveals its deeper significance” (Bookmarks Magazine). The main characters in each of these stories undergo a moment of revelation due to their constant seclusion from their actuality. They choose to inhabit a world of personal thought and fantasy, to escape the trials and tribulations of their reality, leading them and the reader to that moment of clarity and realization of that desperately sought after, elusive truth. These character’s paths to revelation in each story, greatly differs, yet they all occur due to a physical and mental separation from society, as well as a deep study of one’s self. In the novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the boy Stephen lives in a fantasy world of his own creation, due to lack of personal relationships and his financial and family strives. His lack of human contact cuts him off from society, physically and mentally, forcing him to focus on his identity. This segregation from reality leads him on a desperate quest to find himself and his place in the world. Throughout the story Stephen relies on the ideas and beliefs of others to shape his character, yet as he grows and leaves 2 the university he finally comes into his own. After the novel has shifted point-of-view to a first person personal journal narrative, Stephen experiences a great epiphany when he is on a visit to the beach where he falls asleep, when he...
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