“A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” Analysis

Topics: Catholic Church, Roman Catholic Church, The Final Chapter Pages: 3 (1030 words) Published: May 8, 2014
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Critical Analysis

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a semi-autobiographical novel by writer James Joyce. The book follows the development of Stephan Dedalus, from his childhood to his adolescence. Stephan struggles with issues of identity and the role that he plays within his fervently religious and nationalistic society. The book is written in the third person; the narrator recounts Stephan’s thoughts and feelings, and describes events from Stephan’s viewpoint. Stephan is considered unusual from the perspective of his family and his peers. He is socially awkward and introspective, often preferring to reflect alone then in the company of his peers. As the book progresses we see Stephan’s perception of the World and his interaction with other people change as his beliefs and intentions in life begin to solidify.

The book opens with Stephan’s recollection of his first memory. The stream of consciousness style works to display Stephan’s naïve and youthful views. In the first chapter of the book, when Stephan is very young, he tells his family that he would like to marry the neighbor girl. Stephan’s governess Dante becomes very angry with Stephan for making this statement. Although Dante is angered because Stephan’s neighbor is a protestant and Dante is a passionate Catholic, the reader sees the anger as inexplicable, the event is foreign and not explained clearly; the reader is expected to put these pieces together much later when we gain more insight into the characters, as Stephan only begins to understand the events when he is older. Stephan’s interactions with his peers are described with similar unfamiliarity, although Stephan’s confusion is emphasized to underline the intense nervousness he feels at these moments. When Stephan first arrives at the Catholic boarding school one of his classmates ask him if he kisses his mother before he goes to sleep. When Stephan tells the boy that he does kiss his...
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