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A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man Essay

764 words - 4 pages

James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which takes place in late 19th century Ireland, is a modernist Bildungsroman about Stephen Dedalus, a young man who, while facing the obstacles of his family, religion, and nation, tries to discover his life's purpose. Throughout the novel, Joyce takes the readers through Stephen's labyrinthine life, using techniques such as epiphanies, betrayals, and central images.

One of the three institutions that Stephen grapples with in the novel is his family. As the story progresses, the Dedalus' financial situation becomes worse. Stephen stops attending boarding school, and each home his family moves into is more run down than the one before. ...view middle of the document...

..” (pg. 181).

Another institution that Stephen tries to escape the constraints of as the novel progresses is the Catholic Church. As a young boy, Stephen remains close to the Church, although he doesn't fully understand it, “It pained him that he did not know well what politics meant and that he did not know where the universe ended. He felt small and weak” (pg. 8). The novel progresses and Stephen attends a religious retreat where he hears Father Arnall, a priest at Stephen's old Jesuit boarding school, preach a sermon about the torments of Hell. Stephen begins to think of all his sins, including sleeping with a prostitute, and worries about his fate. In order to save himself from eternal damnation, he becomes a strict believer in Catholicism, depriving himself of all of life's sensory pleasures. Stephen's life “became a divine gift for every moment and sensation of which, were it even the sight of a single leaf hanging on the twig of a tree, his soul should praise and thank the Giver” (pg. 107). Later in the novel, after...

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