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Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man

In: English and Literature

Submitted By thosis
Words 899
Pages 4
In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce describes Stephen Daedalus’ sense that words have colors. Stephen experiences a whole rainbow of color and emotion in this passage. He works his way through all seven deadly sins in the span of a single thought, and is struggling with his self worth, desires, and his destiny. In this complex emotional state, he visualizes words and feelings as color: the gleaming gold of his pride, the dark green depths of despair, and the red fires of lust. He would visualize these colors because of his longing desire to make sense of it all. He has realized that from the sin of lust, all other sins have emerged.
Stephen is proud of his status and uses it to justify his sins. His success in school inflates his ego. He lords over people with pomposity and has a golden exterior, but under that thin shell is his sin and insecurity. His golden shell is a façade for his shame and the more he feeds his sin, the more he feels the need to devote himself to religion, as if the two will cancel each other out.
Green is the color of the rotten stink that is the dark side of his soul. His mind is split. One side of him is a devout catholic who is excitedly persuing god, but while he is venerating Mary, he is daydreaming about prostitutes and the desires of his flesh. All this is swirling around in a cold swamp of lucid indifference where strange things hide under the dark surface. Stephen is lazy and sloth like, a condition of his mental frustration at the world of temptation. The only light that is provided to his fetid green soul is from the glowing red embers of his lust.
Steven’s lust is at the heart of his problems. Perhaps the most destructive and addictive of the sins, it burns unchecked like a wildfire in his life. The warm blaze is temporarily comforting when he uses it to relax his brooding anger and disappointment in his monetary and family issues, but as we see later in the story, his overpowering guilt ultimately wins. Red associated with lust in our culture but also with death or blood. We often feel guilty for lustful thoughts or actions and in religious circles “the wage for sin is death” (NIV, Rom. 6:23). The color red here is appropriate because it describes both his fiery lustful feelings towards local prostitutes, and the destination he fears he will be going because of them: hell.
Stephen explores the relationships between earthly desires and sin. He sees it in color for what it is, and you see his portrait of what he is form the true colors displayed by his emotions and actions. The gold, green and red helps the reader visualize his emotions because they are colors that perfectly describe emotions every man has felt.

Joyce’s Character
James Joyce has the innate ability to describe characters that are extremely accessible to the everyman, and yet are complex enough to draw you in and make the story interesting as the character battles their own psyche. In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Joyce first introduces you to the protagonist, Stephen Daedalus as a child who looks at the world in wonder. We get a sense of his early development as a character based on his internal monologue. Joyce shows us the intellectual and emotional development taking place under the surface of a boy who makes observations about his surroundings and doesn’t now what to make of them. An instinctive drive to change his environment stays with him throughout the book and at the end presents itself in mature and intellectual terms. We never get much of a physical description in this particular exposition, but by the end, we know the character so intimately that we project our own features into his character.
One of the things to which I can most relate, is Steven’s struggle with authority figures in his life. Stephen wants to believe in his father, and in other authorities, and at the same time, he is continually seeking 'truth', so he needs to try and justify the actions of the school and church when they don't appear to fit in with his view of the world. He constantly seeks the approval of these figures in his life but is constantly let down. When the priest unfairly punishes him, he doesn’t react well and is deeply disturbed. This shows us his insecurities and his vulnerability to seek positive reinforcement through other means. He feels alone and in exile, which is something that many readers have felt at one point or another.
By chapter five, Steven’s world-view has changed dramatically and you are left with a man that is thinking positively and on his way into the world to become an artist. No matter how much we criticized him over the course of the story for his immaturity or coldness, we have to admire his unyielding independence of spirit. Even though we never get a physical description of the character, the reader can get a sense of what Steven Daedalus is really like, and there is something extremely likeable about a character that can learn from life’s mistakes and come out the end a mature young adult.…...

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Portrait
of
the
Artist
as
a
Young
Man”:
Shaping
Identity By
April
16
2012 Powell Texts
and
Contexts 16
April
2012 “A
Portrait
of
the
Artist
as
a
Young
Man”:
Shaping
Identity The
first
scene
of
James
Joyce’s
novel
“A
Portrait
of
the
Artist
as
a
Young
Man”
presents the
protagonist,
as
a
child
then
as
a
young
man.
This
scene
condenses
the
journey
by foreshadowing
the
challenges
the
protagonist
will
experience
leading
to
him
becoming
the
artist he
was
meant
to
be:
we
are
introduced
to
three
major
forces
that
shape
his
identity
and
thoughts; Irish
Nationalism,
Catholic
Identity,
and
sensitivity. James
Joyce’s
choice
of
Dublin,
Ireland
at
the
end
of
the
19th
century
as
the
setting
is critical
for
this
novel.
Ireland
was
experiencing
oppression
and
reform
from
their
conquerors,
the British.
The
political
dimension
of
this
time
period
is
introduced
using
the
implications
of
song. The
music
is
used
to
represent
the
struggle
for
Irish
independence
which
is
a
consistent
theme throughout
the
novel.
The
song
begins
with
“O,
the
wild
rose
blossoms”;
when
a
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is
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it
is often
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rampant
implying
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in
an
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that
is
not
its own.
Suffocating
all
other
life
“on
the
little
green
place”
which
is
Ireland.
The
song
ends
with Stephen
pondering
“O,
the
green
wothe
botheth”;
if
the
rose
were
green
instead
of
red
implying Irish
independence
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still
saying
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