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Imagery and Maturation in "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" Essay

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James Joyce’s, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, serves as a psychological look into the maturation that occurs within children as they constantly absorb different elements of life. Stephen Dedalus represents what most boy experience while growing up, and his struggles and triumphs serve as an ideal example for the bildungsroman genre. Of the numerous themes within the novel, Joyce’s inclusion of vivid imagery and sensory details provide for an enhanced reader experience. It is important to note his use of imagery to mature the character of Stephen throughout the novel, and how they influence Stephen’s behavior as he explores his sexuality, struggles with accepting religion and, and attempts to understand his calling in life beyond school.
The story relayed in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, centers on Stephen Dedalus, a young Irish schoolboy in the early 20th century. Using stream of consciousness, Joyce provides his reader with a firsthand perspective into the mind of the protagonist Stephen. From the time he is a small child up until his early 20s, Stephen goes through many personality changes that mimic what any human being goes through growing up. Joyce makes Stephen’s case different by incorporating innumerable amounts of influences in his life, including Stephen’s father, omnipresent thoughts of sex, moocows, and fiery sermons condemning sinners of their wrong doings. Eventually Stephen must make a on what it is that he desires in life other than his natural impulses and the need to appease the religious portion of his psyche.
For a large part of the novel, Stephen struggles with the impulses of sexuality, and needing to delve into his innate feelings as an adolescent. His encounter with a prostitute at ...


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...e decision in the future, after he realizes the priesthood is not for him. Joyce finally gives Stephen’s character a strong psychological state in order to work through his troubles and to see past the once ostentatious idea of living for others instead of living for himself.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man has its idiosyncrasies throughout, but James Joyce manages to present an entire transformation through random thoughts and imagery. Stephen Dedalus embodies the coming to age story with his urges to commit sinful acts, yet tries to remain pious in order to pursue his dream of becoming a priest. The use of imagery and symbolism throughout the novel serve as reliable mediums for maturation, without convoluting the overall theme with indecipherable meanings.



Works Cited

Joyce, James. A Portrai of the Artist as a Young Man. London: Penguin Books, 1993.


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