A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
The novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, depicts the life of Stephen Dedalus from his disjointed youth to his clarifying adulthood, in a stream of consciousness approach that reveals his inner thoughts. Throughout the novel, he perceives the world around him in an unusually keen way, considering he is extremely aware of his senses, particularly his sense of smell. People by nature have involuntary connections between their physical world and their mental state, just as Stephen reflects his own subconscious in the everyday smells he encounters. In James Joyce’s, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Stephen’s solidarity allows him to perceive the world in a detached, but consequently, more sensory and observant fashion, demonstrating the theme that isolation leads to self-discovery.
Stephen endures a youth filled with disconnection and confusion, followed by an adolescence trite with rebellion, angst, and a superiority complex. As a boy living in Clongowes University, he feels a sense of detachment that isolates him from the other boys, but in his naivety he doesn’t understand why he is so different and unhappy. Because of his young age, Stephen doesn’t have a fully developed analytical mental process, so he reflects on only what he observes. None-the-less, it is evident Stephen is not in a peaceful mental state upon comparing how he perceives the smells at school versus how he perceives those of his family in his memory. Stephen thinks about his mother, correlating her to “such a lovely warm smell” (22). Contrastingly, he mentions how the infirmary at Clongowes “came a smell of medicine,” (34). This is furthered a few pages later when Stephen’s peer says, “‘They said you got stinking stuff to drink in the infirmary’” (38). Stephen’s time at Clongowes is ridden with unpleasant associations, whereas his memory of being at home, particularly with his mother, is much more positive. Though, Stephen...
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