Every child becomes an adult—a boy to a man, a girl to a woman. In the novel, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, published in 1916 by an Irish writer, James Joyce illustrates the protagonist, Stephen Dedalus, and his journey to seek for identity. While the title of the novel insinuates that the protagonist is going to become an artist, the novel also portrays Stephen’s sense of isolation that comes from the ambiguity and bewilderment that he experiences with his family, society, and country. As the novel begins, Stephan is still young and because of a lack of knowledge and experience, he fells small and weak. Stephen goes through a severe portrayal of the injustices and intricacy of childhood as a child trying to grasp a clear image of the world; Joyce depicts the impression of a child in a world regulated for adults. When “[Stephen] turned to the flyleaf of the geography and read… Sallins/ Country Kildare/ Ireland/ Europe/ The World/ The Universe,” (Joyce, 13) thinking about the boundaries of the universe, Stephen attempts to identify himself by placing himself in the world by his geographic position. In addition, when he contemplates the overwhelming ideas of God and the limits of his political knowledge, which seems to be so significant to the adults. This shows the reader the isolation Stephen feels as a young child from the world. In short, this essay will analyze how Stephen alienation with his environment affects him to finds his own identity as an artist. During Stephen’s childhood, he feels isolated more in relation to his family and the society. When Stephen encounters into the duty of revealing the rector that Father Dolan has been inequitable with him at the Clongowes Wood College, he comes to a decision not take any actions at one point. “No, it was best to hide out of the way because when you were small and young you could often escape that way,” (48) Stephen thinks about his colleagues in the scene when he is questioned whether he will go to the rector or not. In this scene, Stephen understands the children’s world. He knows that “fellows [tells] him to go, but they would not go themselves” (48). However, after he tells the rector about Father Dolan, even though his fellows cheer for Stephen’s bravery and turnout to be here, he soon becomes alone. “He was happy and free: but he would not be anyway proud with Father Dolan. He would be very quiet and obedient: and he wished that he could do something kind for him to show him that he was not proud” (51) it states, emphasizing that Stephen knew that nothing would change and the fact that he felt weak and small after all—a sense of isolation from his colleagues and adults. Soon after he experiences the sense of isolation from his colleagues, Stephen is introduced to the change in Dedalus’ financial situation. Moving into a “cheerless house” (57) in Dublin with his family, Stephan recognizes that his father is the cause for he is a financial failure. This allows Stephen to become self conscious and acrimonious, humiliated by the “change of fortune” (58). Illustrating the Dedalus’ first night in their new house, where “the parlor fire would not draw [and the] half furnished uncarpeted room [was bathed in a] bare cheerless house” (57) makes Stephen’s “heart heavy” (57) with the “intuition and foreknowledge” (57) that it is his father who is responsible for the decline. Furthermore, Stephen starts to feel separated from his father. Despite the fact that Simon Dedalus is unsuccessful to manage the family’s financial needs, he his somwhat anxious of his children’s quality of education. Yet, Simon lets down Stephen by treating Stephen’s collision with Father Conmee—a triumphant moment in Stephen’s young life—with a “hearty laugh” (63) with his friends This event makes Stephen to feel degraded and patronized by his elders, thus starts to isolate himself from his father. Prior to analyzing the relationship between Stephen’s isolation to seek for his...
• Joyce, James, John Paul. Riquelme, Hans Walter Gabler, and Walter Hettche. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: Authoritative Text, Backgrounds and Contexts, Criticism. New York: W.W. Norton, 2007. Print.
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