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Joyce, James A. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism. 1916. Ed. R. B. Kershner. 2nd ed. New York: Bedford, 2005. ISBN: 0312408110
ENG 435 Students,
Below you will find . . .
(ENG 435) 23 January 2008 READING CHECK
James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as Young Man Chapters 1-3
1. Who is the protagonist of Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. (Just for fun, what is the literary significance of the protagonist’s last name?)
2. When the narrative begins, who is speaking? How is this person speaking? (Just for fun, identify a few of the words that were used)
3. When the narrative begins, at what approximate age is the protagonist? If you don’t know, guess. Give at least one reason why you think this to be so.
4. In chapter 2, what work of literature does the protagonist enjoy reading? (Just for fun, from a critical perspective, why might the protagonist have a “connection” to that particular piece of literature?)
5. With whom does the protagonist have his first sexual experience? (Just for fun, where might this event fit within Campbell’s monomyth scheme?)
6. BONUS: Identify the topic of sermon the protagonist hears from Father Arnall in chapter 3? How does the sermon affect the protagonist? (Just for fun, what literary allusions might the author have drawn from as this story’s inspiration?)
(ENG 435) 26 January 2008 READING CHECK
James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as Young Man, Chapters 3-5
1. Many times in class I have used the German literary terms Bildungsroman and Künstler-Bildungsroman. What do these words mean and which of them best describes Joyce’s Portrait?
2. In our last meeting, we discussed how Joyce conceived of his coming-of-age novel as a series of “epiphanies.” Identify ONE of the epiphanies Stephen has in the course of the narrative.
3. You have now had two mini-lectures and two homework exercise assignments on Campbell’s monomyth scheme. Identify what you consider to be the “ordinary world” of Stephen and his “special world” (literally, symbolically, or otherwise). There could be many possibilities. Be prepared to defend yours.
4. Working with your OWN theory of Stephen’s ordinary/special worlds in question #3, identify where the three primary phases are in the narrative (departure, initiation, return). From where does Stephen “depart,” where is he “initiated,” and to where does he “return”?
5. In our last meeting, I asked you to re-examine the beginning pages/lines of Joyce’s Portrait. Now consider the end segment. We have already discussed the literary significance of Stephen’s family name. How does the “end” of Stephen’s journey parallel that of the mythological Daedelus and/or Icarus?
Two things are due here:  Application Papers and  Conference Papers
 If you wrote an application paper on this work, you will enter it in the comment box below.
Keep in mind that you will write 10 short, but concise, application papers this semester: one for each module / theory. However, ALL of your application papers will NOT be on the same work of literature. After your initial choice, you are expected to rotate between the four primary works (Fitzgerald, Joyce, Shepard, and Fleming) before coming back to this one. Enter your application papers for the other authors in their own dedicated entries on the English-Blog (click on the "Critical Theory" or "Literature" links in the Scattegories menu to the left if you are lost!).
In addition to being due n the comment box below by the deadline (see itinerary), your application paper is ALSO due in the appropriate folder on turnitin.com. Bring a hardcopy of your paper to class according to the deadline listed on our itinerary (see syllabus) and, as usual, be prepared to discuss your article with the rest of the class.
The purpose of the application papers are to give you exercise and preparation for the longer paper due in the final weeks of the course (see itinerary) for our mock-student-conference panels.
 If you wrote a conference paper on this author, enter it in the comment box below. It is also due on turnitin.com by the deadline AND as a hardcopy for your portfolio and for the actual conference itself (you will read it aloud).
I look forward to seeing your work,
Posted by lhobbs at January 25, 2009 10:24 AM
27 January 2009
Through the use of Plato’s anecdote, “Allegory of the Cave,” Stephen Dedalus’ epiphany can be catalogued as a period of blurred images and altered ideas to a striking representation of truth and finally truth itself illuminated. The idea of aesthetics, human beauty, and particularly the female as a vehicle through which these ideas become most manifest in the novel becomes the figurative cave the developing young hero, Stephen, must grapple with.
Akin to the shadows on the wall, Stephen’s first admiration of female beauty is discovered through Emma, who (interestingly) is portrayed as an obscure figure in the novel since Emma is generally referred to as “she” alone (69). Stephen attempts to writ poetry for Emma professing his adoration but fails in adequately capturing the idea which first caught his attention. In other words, similar to the men in the cave who see the images projected onto the wall but have not concept of their true name or form, Stephen is unaware of what he perceives in Emma or the feelings she produces within him.
Towards the close of chapter two, Stephen notes an encounter with a prostitute which appears to him to be an accurate representation of female beauty and sexual aesthetic but against society’s norms and Stephen’s own awkwardness with the situation and the observation, he has simply encountered a signifier of a truth he must still uncover. Essentially, the prostitute has the raw potential for beauty, but her beauty and sexuality are simply imitations of the ideal since they are forced in her profession. Also to bear in mind, Stephen feels extreme guilt from this and does not yet feel liberated.
Furthermore, Stephen finally ventures out of his metaphorical cave by witnessing a girl bathing in the sea. At this moment “Stephen’s soul cried out: Heavenly God!” (171), which results in the climactic moment of his epiphany. Just as Plato’s “Allegory” mentions an escape out from the cave into an illuminated landscape, the reader should note Stephen’s literal environment: a sunny beach. Upon seeing the girl in the water, Stephen realizes and processes the true idea of mortal beauty and aesthetic. Free from society’s belief of spiritual beauty, and his own mistaken encounters with varying forms of the idea, Stephen has a true awareness of the concept “passed into his soul” (172). Lastly, just as the enlightened escape the cave, they return to it as well as a disciple figure to reveal the truths they have learned to others still shrouded in the dark. Stephen does this same act with his school buddies, Davin and Cranley, by explaining aesthetic to them.
Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as Young Man. New York: Viking Press, 1970.
Posted by: Cecilia at January 27, 2009 09:31 PM
27 January 2009
Plato’s Allegory of the Cave Applied to Stephen Dedalus’s Sexual Encounter
Stephen Dedalus’s first sexual encounter serves several purposes. First, the loss of his virginity also functions as his entrance into manhood. Second, his sexual relationship with the Dublin prostitute allows him to succumb to his overwhelming sexual frustrations and desires. This establishes for Stephen a major part of his inner struggles between right and wrong. It also serves as an affirmation later in the story that Stephen does not belong in ministry. He enjoys sex and cannot suppress his sexual desires. Finally, his first sexual experience allows him to have a new perception of women overall. His own relationships with women have instilled in him mixed emotions about what a woman should be.
In an attempt to apply Plato’s Allegory of the Cave to Stephen’s first sexual encounter, it is necessary to understand what Stephen is struggling with. The moral dilemma that Stephen is struggling with is that while he is aware that lusting after women is wrong, he cannot and does not wish to suppress it. His sexual longings can be categorized as the shadows that are projected on Plato’s wall. Stephen is only able to hypothesis what it would be like to be sexually active. His first sexual encounter with the Dublin prostitute could be viewed as the departure of Plato’s prisoner into the real world. For Plato’s prisoner subjection to the real world might be overwhelming but also fascinating. Both the prisoner and Stephen are experiencing something new and exciting but also frightening. The pleasure that Stephen feels and his physical entrance into manhood seems to empower him. It also ignites his desires to seek more. This is similar to the prisoners experience in the sense that the prisoner also wants answers. The prisoner never knew such a world existed just like Stephen’s sexual satisfaction.
For Stephen, the father’s sermon on Hell and Heaven is the prisoners return to the cave. Stephen is aware that what he is doing is wrong. He tries for a while to live a righteous life but is constantly struggling to repress his sexual desires. He is a prisoner of the flesh in the sense that while he knows it is sinful, he enjoys it. He tries to convince himself to live right, escape the desires, he cannot. This is similar to the Plato’s prisoner because the prisoner attempts to convince the others that what they know is wrong, but they refuse to listen.
Finally, Stephen’s refusal to the calling of priesthood reiterates his desires to experience more sexual experiences. Even though he has attempted to convince himself that lust is wrong and sins of the flesh are wrong, he recognizes that he still has them. He enjoys them and therefore cannot step into priesthood. This is similar to Plato’s prisoner in the sense that while the prisoner wants to save the others, he cannot. Nor can he ever settle for remaining in the cave. He has been subjected to the world and knows that there is so much more to learn.
Posted by: Ava at January 28, 2009 11:20 AM
January 28, 2009
Applying Plato’s allegory of the cave to the shrine epiphany in Joyce’s Portrait of an Artist allows Stephen Dedalus an opportunity to realize that his religious convictions have changed as he matures in the sunlight. After leaving a conversation regarding a possible vocation as a priest, Stephen stares coldly “for an instant towards the faded blue shrine of the Blessed Virgin” (144). His religious sentiments no longer line up with his lifelong goals. He has embraced a secular life in pursuit of a calling he is not yet sure of. Outside influences like his love for the arts and literature influence this. Suddenly his life must have much more meaning than simply donning a priestly robe; he now wants notoriety along with a career. He cannot reenter the cave because his knowledge of world will not allow for blind devotion or ignorance. As the text states, “he was destined to learn his own wisdom apart from others or to learn the wisdom of others himself wandering among the snares of the world” (144). Stephen matures greatly through this decision because he is willing to risk being outside of what he supposes to be the will of God, against social norm and his indoctrinated values, to make himself and his wandering heart satisfied.
Joyce, James. _A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man_. Ed. Seamus Deane. New York: Penguin Classics, 2003.
Posted by: Liz H. at February 1, 2009 02:24 PM
4th February 2009
New Critical Reading of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
New Critic W.K. Wimsatt’s manifesto on the concrete universal is evident in Joyce’s short text through the formal element of character. The text puts forward universal abstract ideas into objective concrete forms through the composition of its characters, and is most specifically illustrated through two separate female figures proffered in the text’s span. Foremost, the universal ideas of uncertainty and enlightenment are pertinent to the construction of Emma and the bather, respectively. Both of these universals become organic entities within the textual constructs of Joyce’s work and blend both connotative and denotative meanings.
The concept of uncertainty is first presented in the protagonist’s childhood crush, Emma who epitomizes vagueness. The text never offers a physical description of Emma, and overuses the simple pronoun ‘she’ in reference to her character. In fact, “her glance” does “flatter, taunt, search, and excite” (Joyce 69) the protagonist’s heart but this ambiguous juxtaposition of verbs obscures the character’s true nature and identity. Also, the narrator claims he “heard what her eyes said” (Joyce 69) which though paradoxical concretely and abstractly illustrates Emma’s disorienting effect in the text and on the protagonist.
In heavy contrast with the previous character, the text submits the universal thought concerning enlightenment. The passage used to describe the female bather is a striking divergence from Emma’s figure. From the protagonist’s words, the bather is depicted in minute detail using various metaphors and similes: “slender legs…delicate as a crane,” “her thighs…softhued as ivory,” and “her bosom…the breast of some lightplumaged bird” (Joyce 171). This careful composition of words transforms the abstract ideas of certainty and enlightenment into a concrete form by using words which carry both connotative and denotative meanings of illumination and also omits any use of paradox, ambiguity, or irony which further buttresses clarity.
Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as Young Man. New York: Viking Press, 1970.
Posted by: Cecilia at February 4, 2009 07:57 AM
11 February 2009
Joyce and Figures of Speech
According to Edward P.J. Corbett, in his essay “Classical Rhetoric,” the term figures of speech, refers to “any artful deviations from the ordinary mode of speaking and writing” (Corbett 143). James Joyce used a great deal of figures of speech throughout his novel Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The varieties of figures used by Joyce in his book were selected from “the two hundred or more figures that exist in language” (Corbett 142). Because figures have been used by men long before they were “classified and defined” (Corbett 143), there is no factual evidence to assert that Joyce used figures intentionally. However, given Joyce’s educational background and literary studies, it is likely that he was familiar with using figurative language.
Many of the figures Joyce used can be divided into two categories: schemes and tropes. Schemes involve “words that deviate in pattern or arrangement from the ordinary” (Corbett 143). Tropes also involve deviation. Tropes “deviate from the ordinary and principal signification of words” (Corbett 143). Both schemes and tropes involve transference. Several subcategories exist concerning schemes and tropes including schemes of words, construction, balance, unusual or inverted word order, omission, repetition, tropes as metaphors, and as similes. Joyce’s use of figures can be classified under one or more of these subcategories.
Take for example Joyce’s use of Parallelism, which falls under the subcategory of Schemes of Balance. Joyce’s use of Parallelism can be seen in the following sentence: “He felt his body small and weak amid the throng of players and his eyes were weak and watery” (Joyce 21). The associations of the words “small and weak” are examples of parallelism because they are “similar in structure” (Corbett 145). Joyce’s use of another subcategory of schemes can be classified using the same sentence. The use of the words weak, twice, and watery, once, establish Joyce’s use of Alliteration. Joyce’s use of words that begin with the consonant, W, or “the repetition of initial or medial consonants in two or more adjacent words” (Corbett 148), is clear example of Alliteration. Similarly, Joyce’s use of Alliteration can be viewed in the following two sentences, “I know that Byron was a bad man, said Boland. Here, catch hold of this heretic, Heron called out” (Joyce 83). The repetitions of both consonants, B, in the first sentence, and H, in the second sentence, are clear examples of Joyce’s use of Alliteration.
Joyce used several other forms of schemes throughout his book including but not limited to Onomatopoeia, Epistrophe, Anadiplosis, Epanalepsis, Apposition, Asyndeton, and Anastrophe. Some examples to specific to Joyce’s use of these include the following sentences: Polyptoton and Epistrophe, “He sang that song. That was his song” (Joyce 20), Anadiplosis and Epanalepsis, “Still they were all different places that had those different names. They were all different countries and the countries were in continents and the continents were in the world and the world was in the universe” (Joyce 27), Asyndeton, “Term, vacation, tunnel, out, noise, stop” (Joyce 29), Apposition, “The lovely smell there was in the wintry air: the smell of Clane: rain and wintry air and turf smoldering and corduroy” (Joyce 31), and finally, Anastrophe in the these two sentences, “Away with God, I say” (Joyce 48) and “It was easy, what I had to do” (Joyce 60). The above lines are just a few examples of the way that Joyce used figures in his book. Joyce’s use of schemes is prevalent throughout Portrait and it would be impossible to list the numerous times he utilized them.
Joyce also used figures in the form of Tropes in Portrait. There are several times throughout his book that he used similes, “an explicit comparison between two things of like unlike nature that have something in common” (Corbett 153), to define an object or person. Consider the following sentence, “It was like a train going in and out of tunnels and that was like the noise of the boys eating in the refectory when you opened and closed the flaps of the ears” (Joyce 29). Joyce’s association of Stephen Dedalus’ wait term to term to that of a train traveling “in and out of tunnels” is a clear example of Joyce’s application of similes. Another form of Tropes that Joyce used was metaphors. Metaphors are “an implied comparison between two things of unlike nature that yet has something in common” (Corbett 153). The following sentence is an example of Joyce’s use of metaphor, “The faint glimmer of fear became a terror of spirit as the hoarse voice of the preacher blew death into his soul” (Joyce 107). Joyce’s implications of the “glimmer of fear to terror of spirit and the hoarse voice of the preacher to that of death” are figures (tropes) in the form of metaphors.
Joyce’s intentions for using figures may never be known. Perhaps he used figures as a means for “embellishments” (Corbett 142). Perhaps his intentions were to “decorate his book” (Corbett 142). Joyce may have been attempting to produce “clarity and, charm, distinction, clearness, truth, or approval” (Corbett 142). Whatever reasons Joyce had for using figures, it is clear that, not only do figures exist within Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, but their presence within the his book are an important part of what makes his book a literary piece of work.
Corbett, Edward P.J., “Classical Rhetoric”. Literary Theory: An Anthology. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004. 142-61.
Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Ed. Kershner, R. Brandon. Boston: Bedford, 2006. 20-107.
Posted by: Ava L. at February 11, 2009 09:45 AM
February 11, 2009
Joyce’s Word Choice and Reader Response
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
In James Joyce’s novel, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the main character, Stephen Dedalus’ word choices are particularly reminiscent of the Reader Response theory and evidence found in John Frow’s article “Text and System”.
Quite important to the Reader Response theory is the idea of how one word over another can impact the audience’s perception of a work. In one particular scene with his headmaster at school, Stephen refers to fire and its kindling as “tundish” which is a word specifically used in his Irish culture. This word denotes an obvious division of class and culture within the novel. The headmaster presents confusion over his word choice, prompting Stephen to explain what tundish is. Joyce chooses this specific word, and it reflects what Frow would label as the dominant literary and cultural forces of the book’s time.
Like Frow’s sentiments in his article, James Joyce is attempting to rectify the split between Irish and English culture. He is attempting to speak to both audiences despite their obvious differences. Stephen’s young age helps this issue as well because Joyce’s audience can be forgiving and understanding of the youth’s confusion and slight embarrassment over his misunderstood word choice.
Frow, John. "Text and System." Literary Theory : An Anthology. Eds. Julie Rivkin. By
Michael Ryan. Malden: Blackwell Limited, 2008. 222-36.
Joyce, James, and Kevin J. Dettmar. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Danbury:
Barnes & Noble, Incorporated, 2004.
Posted by: Liz H at February 11, 2009 12:16 PM
Interpreting A Portrait of the artist as a Young Man With Structuralism
Structuralism tries to understand the unifying theme(s) of a book, which draws the story together, and then explains how these theme(s) relate to all human experience (Tyson 220). Through analyzing a book’s theme(s) and dissecting the language into classifications of metaphoric and metonymic, one is able to understand literature through Structuralists lenses (Jakobson 76).
Identifying the main theme in A Portrait of the artist as a Young Man reveals that Stephen Dedalus, the protagonist, is trying to break free from cultural norms. A boy trying to find his identity, Stephen experiences dissatisfaction with the normal way of life and feels rejection from his peers and classmates. His search for acceptance transforms his state into that of freedom which he attains through art. During his childhood, Dedalus was in the mythos of winter; however, the book ends with Dedalus in the mythos of spring as his life transforms into the ideal world at the end.
Dedalus’s dissatisfaction with life is an experience that every person feels. Longing for acceptance, looking for identity, and feeling dissatisfaction with life, are emotions that all people can relate to. Still, how one deals with these emotions makes every person and each situation unique. In Joyce’s work, Dedalus uses art to allow him to transform into a person who can live in his ideal world.
Joyce uses both metonymy and metaphors in A Portrait of the artist as a Young Man. Looking at examples of these two literary techniques allows us to see how Joyce uses language to tell his story. “Smiling eyes” is one example of metonymy that Joyce uses in this sentence on page 163: “Stephen had turned his smiling eyes towards his friend’s face…” A few pages further, readers find Joyce use of a metaphor, “…he was, as the founder would have him, like a staff in an old man’s hand…” (Joyce 167). Through use of these literary techniques, Joyce is able to convey to readers a story, which main theme, readers are able to relate to and learn from.
Jakobson, Roman. “Two Aspects of Language”. Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd ed. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004.76-79.
Joyce, James. A Portrait of The Artist As A Young Man. Ed. R.B. Kershner. 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006.
Tyson, Lois. Critical Theory today A User-Friendly Guide. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2006.
Posted by: Jessica Pall at February 18, 2009 12:19 PM
25 February 2009
Speech as Secondary in A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man
In her work, “Writing”, Barbara Johnson explores Derrida’s argument of writing not being secondary to speech (343). This is a key concept in her article because she provides an outline on the evolution of writing as it is perceived through the different theories with Deconstruction being the main focus. Ultimately, writing itself spotlights the paradox that exists within the idea of speech being primary which can be seen in Joyce’s A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man.
It is the common perception among literary theories that speech is primary to writing because it is more immediate and accessible. However, Johnson claims that “speakers do not beam meanings directly from one mind to another” (343). In Joyce’s novel one can see the lack of immediacy in speech through the dialogue of the characters. In one scene at the beginning of the book Stephen is asked: “do you kiss your mother every night before you go to bed?” (Joyce 26). If one were asked this question it would appear to be rather straightforward; however, Stephen is unsure about what the boy’s intentions are by asking the question. Is this question meant to ridicule or to not? Therefore, he replies with a straightforward answer: “I do” (26). Yet, this was the wrong interpretation to the question because he is henceforth ridiculed for kissing his mother. This interaction demonstrates that even though one can immediately hear the words spoken speech does not mean he can immediately determine its meaning.
Another instance where speech’s primary placement is disintegrated is at the end of the book where Stephen is speaking to Cranly about religion. Stephen tells Cranly: “You cannot discuss this question with your mouth full of chewed fig” (Joyce 212). This quote helps to set up the second part of the scene by creating an image in the reader’s mind of meaning being distorted by speech. Stephen then continues: “I was someone else then” and Cranly replies with “How someone else? What do you mean by that statement?” (212). Cranly is confused about what Stephen is trying to tell him even though he is using the primary mode of speech instead of writing. There are many instances in the novel of misunderstanding due to speaking issues which demonstrates Derrida’s theory of speech not being primary to writing.
Johnson, Barbara. “Writing.” Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd ed. Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004. 340-347.
Joyce, James. A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man. Ed. R.B. Kershner. Boston:Bedford, 2006.
Posted by: Sarah T. at February 24, 2009 09:45 PM
25 February 2009
Defining Reality: Two Orders of the Simulacrum Applied to Joyce
In his critique on reality, "Simulacra and Simulation," Jean Baudrillard analyzes the dichotomy between the real and simulation. He describes four phases (or orders) of the Simulacrum, of which two will be discussed here: the first phase “is the reflection of a basic reality,” and the second phase “masks and perverts a basic reality” (Rivkin 368). By using these two orders of the simulacrum and applying them to "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" by James Joyce, an interesting happening occurs: the simulacrum becomes apparent.
Joyce’s Künstler-Bildungsroman concerning the trials and tribulations of the young Stephen Dedalus parallels the life of the author quite accurately. In fact, the young protagonist of the novel so resembles that of Joyce one must question whether this work should, in fact, be labeled autobiographical. However, this work is not autobiographical, and therefore, even if the events in the book actually transpired, the novel is not referring to the real or genuine. Instead, it is creating (in authentic landscapes) fiction; it is creating simulation: “To simulate,” Baudrillard states, “is to feign to have what one hasn’t” (Rivkin 366). When looking at "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man," one can see where the simulation begins. If the events depicted in the novel were based off true events, more of an authenticity would be present than if the whole piece was fictitious. Working off the idea that Dedalus was modeled after Joyce and that many of the protagonist’s life trials are parallel to the trials the author faced, one can see how the events (genuine) Daedalus (a fictitious construct) experiences are similar to feigning what one does, in fact, not have. In other words, the unauthentic construct is said to have experienced actual, genuine occurrences. This, then, completes the first phase of the simulacrum: a mirroring of reality. If the novel (again, a fictitious construct) is filled with or based off of events that (actually) occurred in Joyce’s life, and these authentic events are experienced by a fictitious character representing the real author, than the character is a reflection of basic reality as well as the events that took place.
In writing about his life from a fictitious standpoint, Joyce’s work is falling into the second phase of simulacrum. An autobiographical work that is also fictitious creates an inconsistent disparity in the reader. Does one suspend belief that what is presented in the book actually occurred (to the author as well as Dadelus) or was artistic liberty exercised? Due to the nature of autobiographical work, the reader trusts that the events depicted in the text actually occurred. However, "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" is not claimed (perhaps merely assumed) to be autobiographical, so the reality presented in the book might very well not be a genuine reality at all. For example, the novel opens with the protagonist’s father telling his son a story: “Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo” (Joyce 1). Now, it seems unlikely that as a grown man the author would remember (verbatim) such an event occurring in his childhood. If the story of the moocow and baby tuckoo actually took place, it seems logical that some of the story’s elements have been lost in the years spanning from the telling of the tale to its reproduction on the page. That being said, authors rely on their own experiences to produce art, and therefore parts of the novel might be true. Some events depicted in the story might have happened to the author, but even then, the events occurred to the author, not Dadelus. By stating these events as reality, the second phase of simulacrum can be witnessed: the novel masks and alters reality (actual occurrences) and historical events.
Following this train of thought, however, causes many discrepancies. For instance, if fiction based off actual events is considered a first (and even second) stage of simulacrum, does that not throw every bit of fiction ever produced into suspect? If this were the case then it seems that something humanity considers genuine (in this case a novel) would be nothing more than simulation. Grappling with this line of thinking was not the intention of this analysis, but perhaps it is something worth thinking about.
Baudrillard, Jean. "Simulacra and Simulations." Literary Theory: An Anthology, 2nd Ed.
Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004. 365 - 377.
Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as Young Man. New York: Viking Press, 1967.
Posted by: Travis R at February 25, 2009 10:07 AM
Dr. Lee Hobbs
4th March 2009
New Historical Reading of Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
In a similar vein with Raymond Williams’ New Historicist efforts to the eighteenth-century novel, James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man can be probed from a historical viewpoint. The feelings and attitudes present during 1916 Ireland are brought to the forefront through the discussion of Charles Parnell and his scandalous affair with Kitty O’ Shea in the first chapter of Joyce’s text. In true New Historicist fashion, Parnell’s case can disclose the anxieties of the characters in the novel while simultaneously revealing the religious disputes and conflicts of modern-era Irishmen. As a married nationalist leader, Parnell’s involvement with another woman went beyond the political boundaries set up by his position and affected the faith and identity of nationalist followers. The injured attitudes toward Parnell are also reflected in the text as Stephen Dedalus arrives home from school for a Christmas dinner and is exposed to the ongoing debate surrounding the political scandal. Through the dinner party’s conversation in Joyce’s work and the political event it reflected in early twentieth-century Ireland, one can observe the socio-political implications of a text and its impact on the audience of the time.
Using Stephen’s observation of the scene, the reader understands that Catholicism continues to trump all other factors when creating an Irish identity and many cannot distinguish between good political strategy with religious morality. This is especially indicative with Dante who claims Parnell to be “a traitor to his country…a traitor, an adulterer! The priests were right to abandon him. The priests were always the true friends of Ireland” (Joyce 38). With this idea of “God and religion before everything,” (Joyce 39) the dispute arises and many of Stephen’s family object to religion’s true involvement with Irish freedom. In relation to the reality Joyce was trying to portray, mixed feeling abounded concerning the Church’s contribution to the Eastern rebellion and many continued to support Parnell despite his misbehavior.
Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as Young Man. New York: Viking Press, 1970.
Williams, Raymond. “The Country and the City.” 1973. Literary Theory: An Anthology.
Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. New York: Blackwell Pub., 1998. 508-532.
Posted by: Cecilia at March 4, 2009 01:01 PM
March 10, 2009
Seeing a Post-Colonial World: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
In Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the protagonist Stephen Dedalus confronts the dichotomous worlds (school vs. home) that challenge him to discover his own identity outside of a prescribed notion of who he should be. This conflict is particularly postcolonial. Stephen Dedalus fights against two dominant forces in his life through authority figures, his parents, and his schooling masters, which fulfills postcolonial ideals because there are ruling authorities that indelibly affect Stephen’s transition into adulthood.
Stephen Dedalus is consistently challenged to discover who he is apparent from the dominant thoughts and attitudes of his school and his family. One particular circumstance that we as readers can see Stephen’s struggle with postcolonial attitudes is when he is asked whether he has ever felt a call to the priesthood. After Stephen leaves the conversation, he looks coldly at the statue of the Virgin Mary. His identity is no longer wrapped up within the religious undertones of his life. He has divorced himself from one of his possible career choices. He is no longer just a student soaking up every word his religious masters have to offer. He must reconcile his spiritual life on his own terms now.
Through a postcolonial worldview, Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man affects readers on a deeper level because it confronts the reality that each of us grapples with higher authorities and the issue of identity throughout every stage of life.
Joyce, James, and Kevin J. Dettmar. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Danbury:
Barnes & Noble, Incorporated, 2004.
Posted by: Liz H at March 10, 2009 11:44 PM
Deconstructing identity and difference within A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man written by James Joyce is a kunstlerroman novel that follows the intellectual development of Stephen Dedalus. Stephen goes through philosophical development in which he not only questions but rebels against Irish and Catholic customs. After years of struggling with the conventions he grew up in, Stephen finally left Ireland for Paris to become an artist. Within the novel, Joyce famously portrayed the development of Stephen’s identity through the use of language and development of consciousness. In the essay “Identity and Difference,” Martin Heidegger elaborated on the need for difference to determine one’s identity. Joyce embraced Heidegger’s notion of development of identity through difference within the novel by describing the development of Stephen’s mind and consciousness from chapter to chapter.
The first chapter within the novel began with Stephen’s perceptions as a child. His world is uncomplicated and everything is disordered which is also represented by the language Joyce used. The chapter went from a rhyme he knew as a child, “baby tuckoo,” to wetting the bed, to memories from the playground, and school (20). Within the beginning of the novel everything is simple. It is not until after Stephen’s mind began to develop as a teenager and differentiate from the simple child he once was before his identity emerged.
“Being [is] thought of as emerging from difference,” and the difference between Stephen the child, Stephen the teenager, and Stephen the adult chronicles Stephen’s pathway to his true identity (Heidegger 272). During his teenage years Stephen at first feels disillusioned by religion, but he eventually became consumed by it. At first he began to experience erotic fantasies. The language within the text is clearer and Stephen’s mindset is firmer. “He saw her urge her vanities, her fine dress and sash and long black stockings, and knew that he had yielded to them a thousand times” (73). This mindset eventually led Stephen to his first sexual experience with a prostitute. At this point, the language Joyce used became more complex and Stephen’s consciousness was even further developed: “He closed his eyes, surrendering himself to her, body and mind, conscious of nothing in the world but the dark pressure of her softly parting lips. They pressed upon his brain as upon his lips as though they were the vehicle of a vague speech” (99). Stephen continued on with his sexual conquest until he analyzed his “sins of the flesh.” After attending a religious retreat Stephen worried about the state of his soul and he decided to live life religiously. Stephen’s life is represented through a stream of consciousness and every difference marked within his conscious is the difference that made up Stephen’s identity.
However, it isn’t until Stephen abandoned his adopted religious conventions before he reached his true identity and being. It is during the time Stephen is at the university when he finally reached his true being by discovering his ideology of aesthetics: “The instant wherein that supreme quality of beauty, the clear radiance of the esthetic image, is apprehended luminously by the mind which has been arrested by its wholeness and fascinated by its harmony is the luminous silent stasis of esthetic pleasure, a spiritual state” (190). The language is more complex and Stephen’s conscious is almost fully developed. The point when Stephen realized he must leave to pursue his artistic ambitions is when Stephen truly embraced identity as an artist. Through out the novel there are many differences between Stephen’s stages of identity. It is because of these differences Stephen finally realized his true being. By the end of the novel Stephen’s identity is firm and rational.
Heidegger, Martin. “Identity and Difference.” Literary Theory: An Anthology 2nd Ed. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 1998. 271-272.
Joyce, James. “A Portrait of the Artist as Young Man.” Ed. R. Brandon Kershner. Boston: Bedford, 2006.
Posted by: Kristin B. at March 22, 2009 02:56 PM
1 April 2009
Re-Joyce: Re-Reading Joyce Through a Marxist Lens
Applying “The German Ideology,” by Karl Marx, to James Joyce’s The Portrait of the Artists as a Young Man proves, at first glance, to be an arduous task. In fact, the history lesson, concerning various forms of ownership, Marx presents in his essay seems almost un-relatable to Joyce’s text. However, a notion presented in the latter half of the essay does create enough friction with the novel that some interesting points can be made.
In James Joyce’s Kunstlerroman, The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the young protagonist, Stephen Dedalus, grows and matures psychologically and physiologically into manhood. Through the series of events that transpire throughout his tale, the evolution of Dedalus is witnessed. The reader is privy to snippets of Stephen’s life, ranging from childhood and his elementary schooling through to his attendance of University and his departure from Ireland. The progression of events, and maturing of the main character, correlates with ideas put forth by Marx in his essay: “the social structure and the State are continually evolving out of the life process of definite individuals…as they really are” (Rivkin 655). This statement is logically based in the procession of historic events and applies to the proceedings that transpire in the story. Dedalus spends much of the novel in a state of emotional flux, at times showing great adoration for the Catholic Church and eventually tossing off the metaphorical shackles of his religion, ultimately deciding that he was more suited for carnal endeavors of the flesh and corporeal pleasures. The Stephen Dedalus the reader is presented with at the end of the novel is a much evolved—not only physically but mentally—version of the same character at the beginning of the story, and this evolution stemmed from the procession of life, the process of living.
In addition, Marx states that philosophical ideologies and musing of the conscious are not produced from a heavenly (ethereal) world and directed toward earth but, instead, travel inversely from earth to heaven, or, in other words, concepts and ideas originate in the human mind (earth) and disperse, due to the communication of ideas, to the universe (the heavens): “In direct contrast to German philosophy which descends from heaven to earth, here we ascend from earth to heaven” (Rivkin 656). Perhaps this can best be witnessed at the end of the novel, when the allusion is made to the Greek myth of Daedalus and his son Icarus: “Now, at the name of the fabulous artificer, he seemed to hear the noise of dim waves and to see a winged form flying above the waves and slowly climbing the air” (Joyce 169). By examining both the passage by Marx and the passage by Joyce, one can see that, for Stephen, human existence, ideologies, and endeavors are placed at a higher standard than that of the rituals and ideas of the church. For Stephen, greater import is placed on humanity (earth) than on the uncertain ether (heaven). He must be careful, though, not to fly too high to the sun, or just like Daedalus’s son Icarus, he might come crashing down. They do have more in common than just name, after all: they are both artists, too.
Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as Young Man. New York: Viking Press, 1967.
Marx, Karl. "The German Ideology." 1846. Literary Theory: An Anthology, 2nd Ed.
Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004. 653 - 658.
Posted by: Travis R at April 1, 2009 09:52 AM
1 April 2009
In Louis Althusser’s 1968 essay, “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses”, he explains to the reader two forms of ideology. The first form is the common “imaginary” ideology of representation (Althusser 693). He refers to it as imaginary because it is not a real entity but rather a representation of a relationship to a commonly accepted outlook on the world. A good example is religion. The second form of ideology is materialistic. This form is not as common but it is present. The material existence of an ideology is through the practice of it; for example, the good deed of a Christian act is the material existence of the religious ideology (Althusser 693). Joyce’s A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man exemplifies the constant struggle between imaginary and material ideology through the main character of Stephen Dedalus.
Stephen is a character who wavers back and forth in his religion. Chapter three is a good section to begin examining Stephen’s religious ideology because at this juncture he is struggling between the imaginary and the materialistic: “He could still leave the chapel. He could stand up, put one foot before the other and walk out softly and then run, run, run swiftly through the dark streets. He could still escape from the shame” (Joyce 132). In this scene, Stephen is at the church for confession of all the sinful sexual acts he committed. He knew they were wrong yet he enjoyed them; his imaginary ideology does not match his material ideology and he recognizes this discrepancy.
Over the next few chapters Stephen continues to struggle with the appropriate balance between his faith and the way he chooses to live. After his confession he devotes his live to religion and living as pure as possible; however, this does not work out when he witnesses a bathing beauty. This sight awakens and epiphany within him because he then recognizes he cannot continue living this lie. At the end of the novel in chapter five he finally submits that he no longer subscribes to the religious ideology and, therefore, will no long practice the material portion of the ideology: “I will not serve that in which I no longer believe whether it call itself my home, my fatherland or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defense the only arms I allow myself to use, silence, exile, and cunning” (Joyce 218). Stephen has finally found the balance between his imaginary and material ideology of religion.
Althusser, Louis. “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses.” Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd ed. Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004. 693-702.
Joyce, James. A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man. Ed. R.B. Kershner. Boston:Bedford, 2006.
Posted by: Sarah T. at April 1, 2009 10:02 AM
8th April 2009
Racialist Reading of James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Similar to Toni Morrison’s argument in her lecture “Playing in the Dark,” “discriminatory hierarchies” (1009) arise within Joyce’s work, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, due to the society with an established Catholic ideology. Though the racialist conflict presented in the text does not concern African-American versus white hegemony, the dilemma still involves ‘othering’ and prejudice of Catholics toward Protestant followers. For instance, within the first chapter Joyce’s protagonist Stephan Daedalus witnesses the intolerance of Catholics toward other religious leanings when he becomes fond Eileen, a local Protestant girl. Upon hearing of Stephen’s childish infatuation, Catholic ideology dominates through the characters of Stephen’s mother and Dante who berate him for it, “His mother said ‘O, Stephen will apologise and Dante ‘If not, the eagles will come and rip out his eyes’”(2). This cruel banter between Stephen’s caregivers reinforces the idea that to marry someone outside of the Catholic denomination warrants a gruesome consequence, and further perpetuates discrimination.
Also, diminutive phrases are used in conjunction with the Protestant faith. To explicate, during a dispute about politics and religion, Dante (ashamed by the remarks made against the Church’s support for Irish independence) claims, “The blackest protestant would not speak the language I have heard this evening!” (35). In a similar vein with white hegemony, Catholic ideology has ascribed characteristics to Protestants that are associated with corruption and savagery (i.e. ‘blackest’). This follows with Morrison’s statements that a socially dominant group typically controls another group by continually labeling them with negative descriptions (1010).
Furthermore, when Stephen claims to have lost “his faith” (287), his friend Cranly assumes he mean Catholicism and inquires, “you do not intend to become a protestant?’ to which Stephan answers, “I said that I had lost the faith, but not that I had lost the self-respect” (287). At this point in the text, Stephen has become so ingrained with what African-American critics would term ‘discriminatory ideology’ that he has transformed from an individual who could marry a Protestant to one who believes converting to the religion would amount to losing all dignity.
Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as Young Man. New York: Viking Press, 1970.
Morrison, Toni. “Playing in the Dark.”1992. Literary Theory: An Anthology. Ed. Julie
Rivkin and Michael Ryan. New York: Blackwell Pub., 1998.1005-1016.
Posted by: cecilia at April 8, 2009 11:23 AM
The Signified Monkey Becomes an Artist
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man written by James Joyce is a kunstlerroman novel that follows the development of native Irishman Stephan Dedalus. Dedalus undergoes philosophical and mental development within his Irish constraints and he both rebels against and defends his Irish and Catholic customs. Dedalus’ rebelling against Irish politics and Catholicism signify his transformation into an artist. Henry Louis Gates termed the notion of “the signifying monkey” within in Afro-American criticism. Within in Afro-American criticism signification is a mode of self figuration which can be directly applied to Dedalus’ struggle throughout the novel with his transformation into an artist (Gates 988).
Dedalus persistently explores Ireland’s status. He constantly deliberates over Ireland’s position within the world and he decided that the Irish has always been a submissive race by allowing others to control them. Based on Dedalus’ early decision regarding the Irish it helped him become the artist he eventually evolved into, and he choose to rid himself of the chains that fellow Irishmen have accepted. The decision that Dedalus made signified his transformation into an artist. Dedalus’s conversation with the Dean at his University really emphasize his conclusion on Ireland’s place because even the language they speak actually belong to the English; for example, the word funnel versus tundish (Joyce 169). Dedalus exclaims, “The language in which we are speaking is his before it is mine […] I cannot speak or write these words without unrest of spirit […] I have not made or accepted its words. My voice holds them at bay. My soul frets in the shadow of his language” (Joyce 170). Dedalus’ signifying with the emerging ideals creating the artist within him represents the mode of self figuration.
Furthermore, “Signifying is a ‘technique of indirect argument or persuasion, a language of implication, to imply, goad, beg, boast, by indirect verbal or gestural means’” (Gates 989-990). Dedalus is an indirect argument between the state of Ireland and its subservient behavior to the English. Part of becoming an artist and choosing to leave Ireland is a statement and a way for Dedalus to break the cycle. Also, he embodies the language implication; English taking over native Irish. Dedalus refuses to even speak the words the Dean uses, “His language, so familiar and so foreign, will always be for me an acquired speech” (Joyce 170).
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man highlights Dedalus’ development into a signified artist. Gates concept of “the signifying monkey” and signification provides a platform to directly dissect Dedalus’s development. The language difference and Dedalus’s realization of Irish oppression by the English are pertinent to self figuration.
Gates, Henry Louis. “The Blackness of Blackness: A Critique on the Sign and the Signifying Monkey.” Literary Theory: An Anthology 2nd Ed. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 1998. 987-1004.
Joyce, James. “A Portrait of the Artist as Young Man.” Ed. R. Brandon Kershner. Boston: Bedford, 2006.
Posted by: Kristin at April 8, 2009 12:19 PM
12 April 2009
The Taboo on Sex: Repressing Sexuality
Michel Foucault’s essay “The History of Sexuality” addresses a very important theme predominant throughout James Joyce’s book A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Many of the internal conflicts that Stephen Dedalus’ struggles with are ignited by his confusion concerning his own sexuality. Stephen attempts to repress his sexuality for many reasons. He is fearful that his sexual desires will be looked upon as sinful and given the fact that his family is grounded in strong Catholic beliefs, he is right.
Stephen is certain that his promiscuous and “unnatural” behavior would be deemed not only as offensive but also as an insult upon his families’ name. Stephen is aware that his sexual desires are sinister. He knows the repercussions of his actions continue to spiral him towards the depths of hell, but he cannot manage to escape them. Stephen acknowledges his sins fully stating that “he had sinned mortally not once but many times and he knew that, while he stood in danger of eternal damnation for the first sin alone, by every succeeding sin he multiplied his guilt and punishment” (Joyce 100). However, he continues to sin, disregarding the consequences of his actions. Foucault classification for Stephen’s behavior falls under the term the “rest” (Foucault 893).
Stephen shares in the sense of alienation that many individuals felt during the 18th century. Stephen feels compelled to hide his sexuality for fear of being rejected and punished. This type of behavior illustrates the same characteristics of those individuals, “unnatural, or the rest” who equally feared rejection and punishment. The fear of being trapped or being afraid of projecting their real selves are something that neither Stephen nor 18th century outcast wanted to confront (Foucault 895). The “perpetual spirals of power and pleasure” that Stephen was struggling with is something that any individual in his situation would not want publicly announced, for fear of retribution. He would not only shame his family and his self, but would be considered an outcast and a sinner. He demonstrates this fear when the father delivers a powerful sermon on heaven and hell. Stephen states that “Every word of it was for him” (Joyce 110).
Although Stephen’s sexual desires are motivated by an innate pleasure principle, his decision to act upon them is considered as “extreme forms of acts against the law” (Foucault 893). During the 18th century Stephen would have had to endure what society deemed a justifiable punishment. Any sexual act that was committed outside of matrimonial relations would have been condemned by the law” (Foucault 893). Stephen’s choice to engage with prostitutes would be considered perverse. Stephen’s behavior can be compared to Foucault’s example of breaking the rules of sexuality using Don Juan. Don Juan deliberately broke the laws concerning sexual activities, however, but also learned a valuable lesson from it. His engagements defied both the laws of marriage and the order of desires (Foucault 894). Stephen’s actions parallel this because although, he eventually succumbs to his sexual pleasures, he has learned a valuable lesson. He is able to reflect upon the choices he made as a young boy and learn from it. Stephen accepts the choices of his past. He does not regret his actions. His actions are what have shaped him into the individual he has become. He states “I am not afraid to make a mistake, even a great mistake, a lifelong mistake and perhaps as long as eternity” (Joyce 218).
Foucault, Michel. The History of Sex. 1976. Literary Theory: An Anthology 2nd ed. Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1998. 892-97.
Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Boston, MA: Bedford, 2006. 100-218.
Posted by: Ava at April 14, 2009 11:29 PM
20th April 2009
“…That impure habit…:” Catholic Regulation of Masculine
Sexual-Identity in Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
The monitoring of sexual purity in James Joyce’s first novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, is predominantly a Catholic affair where such strongholds of the church have forced masculine sexuality and identity into paralytic states. Consequently, the sexual purity campaign that saturates Joyce’s novel suppresses erotic imagination and chastises erotic manifestation. Catholicism is a self-evidently controlling logic in Joyce’s work and specifically for his protagonist Stephen Dedalus whose identity and development is contingent on the church’s strictures. Each chapter exhibits Catholic thought’s inescapable domination. Schoolmasters, governesses, priests, and, on a larger scale, Irish nationalism are all forces imposing Catholic discourse and resultantly stunting masculine sexuality in the text. To borrow Katherine Mullins words, “Catholicism deeply subverts the concept of ‘true manliness’” (83). In effect, Stephen’s personal experiences and the experiences of others filtered through his perspective illustrate the oppression of male sexual identity prompted by Catholic discourse.
First and foremost, the idea of ‘manliness’ itself does not avoid the cultural constructs of gender identity, and for early twentieth-century Ireland Catholicism would have certainly engineered gender roles and sexuality using its own belief and value system. Using Joyce’s text it seems manliness emphasizes the merits of sexual self-control, and this definition likely stems from an age where social propriety was chiefly enforced and particularly under religious influences. Otherwise, manliness should take on several different descriptions that ultimately highlight the autonomy of the male individual and his natural inclinations rather than cultural expectations. Nevertheless, masculine sexuality is thwarted in Portrait, becoming subject to the lens of strict Catholic philosophy. As a result, sexual acts committed in the text are brutally punished by either verbal or physical threats from characters exhibiting strong Catholic awareness.
To begin, Stephen’s first exposure to Catholicism’s purity propaganda occurs during “his first Christmas dinner” (30). Around the table, Stephen witnesses a quarrel over Nationalist Protestant leader, Charles Stewart Parnell, who has become the latest casualty in the battle against male sexuality. Parnell’s adulterous affair with Katherine O’ Shea has caused uproar for the Irish Parliamentary Group and the Catholic Church. Yet as historian Paul Bew notes, while politicians remained indifferent Catholic social purists strove to “eliminate Parnell from political office,” (22) and in so doing transformed Parnell’s image from a heroic figurehead to a sexual transgressor reminiscent of “a cad in Victorian melodrama” (Mullins 87). In Joyce’s novel, the dinner scene is anticipated by a few pages as Stephen looks on at a portrait of Parnell in his school’s infirmary and notes the negative emotions surrounding the political reformist. Stephen internalizes the scrutiny Parnell has received by dreaming of Parnell’s funeral through the Catholic zealot Dante’s perspective, “Parnell! Parnell! He is dead!” and she walked “proudly and silently past the people who knelt” by his casket (30). With this vision, Stephen’s unconscious is already manifesting the fears and anxieties of male sexuality by accurately depicting the consequences of such dealings.
Moreover, during the Christmas feast, Dante further dominates the discussion surrounding Parnell’s sexual behavior. She appears violent and vindictive in her dialogue with Mr. Dedalus, asserting that it is the church’s duty to conduct public surveillance over “sinners” (32). Dante proclaims of Parnell’s incident, “It is a question of public morality. A priest would not be a priest if he did not tell his flock what is right and what is wrong” (31). However, it is not a standard sense of morality that fuels the arguments of those like Dante, but instead Catholic doctrine which instigates such prejudices against male sexuality. As a devout Catholic, Dante has taken a “prurient delight in laying claim to the examination of public men’s private lives which Catholicism insisted upon” (Mullins 89). With Dante’s impassioned claims, Stephen is shown the intrusive inspection of sexual purity and exhibited a “terrorstricken face” (39). From this powerful exchange of words, Stephen associates destruction and social condemnation with sexual acts and becomes fully aware of his culture’s threat towards his own sexuality.
What’s more, from the opening pages of Portrait Dante has been a frightening force for Stephen especially regarding Catholicism’s policing of marriage and sex. As a young boy, Stephen innocently remarks that “when they were grown up he was going to marry Eileen” (8). Once again, male fantasy is put on display for ridicule and prompts an immediate demand from Stephen’s mother to apologize. To reinforce his mother’s command, Dante employs scare tactics and replies, “O, if not, the eagles will come and pull out your eyes” (8). The young protagonist is thus subjected to the demands of Dante’s philosophy concerning sexual purity. Stephen unknowingly proposed a situation that involved an impending sexual relationship particularly with a Protestant girl. Stephen’s statement and his aunt’s ensuing reaction further illustrate Catholicism’s manipulation of the rules of matrimony. Therefore, Catholic culture not only restricts male desire and an approaching sexuality but it defines the circumstances of a holy union.
Additionally, once Stephen overcomes his pre-pubescent stage his anxiety regarding male sexuality increases twofold. In Stephen’s case, the male right to masturbation is robbed by the Catholic ideology that governs his school at Clongowes. For example, the all-seeing headmaster catches “five fellows in the square one night…smugging” (42) and working from critic Alan Hunt’s reading of the word ‘smugging’ it is an act of “masturbation” (589). Catholic panic over this sexual act resulted in the solution of incessant watchfulness. Of the history of Catholic schools during this time, Alisdare Hickson writes, “sleeping with one’s hands under the bedclothes was a canning offence, toilet cubicles were doorless, and masters crept through dormitories in stockinged feet” (47). With the headmaster’s unrelenting watchful eye, Stephen and his schoolmates are uneasy. Aware of the Catholic paranoia surrounding their male sexuality, Stephen’s schoolmates arrange a counter-surveillance method: his friend Athy “lowered his voice...and paused” (43) while the other boys were all looking across the playground” (42). In operation, Catholic belief has stifled the development of male identity through sexuality.
Similarly, the cruel character of Father Dolan in Portrait restricts the natural functions of the male body by whipping the hands of Stephen and his fellow schoolmate, Fleming, for being “idle boys” (48). Of course, the idling Father Dolan speaks of is manifested through their bodies and the appropriate punishment serves to eradicate sexual possibilities for the schoolboys. For instance, Stephen becomes terrified at the sight of Fleming, “squeezing his hands under his armpits, his face contorted with pain” (49). Father Dolan’s beating of Fleming is meant to operate as a cautionary spectacle, suggesting that other offenders will endure the same consequence. Thus, Stephen and his classmates must refrain from autoerotic action to remain good-natured boys as Catholicism would then define them.
Furthermore, Joyce’s protagonist must also deal with what constitutes true masculine sexual-identity. As mentioned earlier, Catholicism greatly influenced the construction of gender identities and resultantly stigmatized that which was deemed abnormal. As a result, Stephen struggles with homoerotic sexuality and its influence over his experience at Clongowes. When Stephen does not exhibit masculine tendencies, he is immediately feminized instead; therefore allowing no range of behavior for the sexes in Catholic culture but strictly delineated gender roles. To explicate, when Stephen does not “swop his little snuffbox for Wells’ seasoned hacking chestnut,” (10) he is thrown into a ditch. Joseph Valente remarks, “the box and the nut function as genital symbols for the respectively feminized and masculinized positions of Stephen and Wells” (253) which further proves the absence of a middle ground for Stephen’s gender identity.
On the other hand, Catholicism takes a more active role with Stephen’s masculine sexuality in the same ‘smugging’ incident. A poetic recitation of the boys’ punishment follows:
It can’t be helped
It must be done
So down with your breeches
And out with your bum. (44)
In this scene it can be argued that the Catholic authorities at Clongowes induce homoerotic tension by promoting penalties (such as flogging) that have blatant homosexual connotations. Though this does not comply with Catholicism’s campaign against male sexuality, it still oppresses and manipulates the schoolboys’ independence over their own bodies, which are instead subjected to the actions of the priests and headmaster.
Also, as Stephen matures into young adulthood he still must grapple with his masculine sexuality. After much time has passed from his encounter with a prostitute, Stephen feels immense guilt over his sin and attends Father Arnall’s sermon. Once more, Stephen has been so deeply conditioned by Catholic philosophy that his reaction to his sexuality is through religious cleansing. Through Arnall’s lecture, Stephen is again bombarded with Catholicism’s preoccupation with sexual purity as Arnall shouts out, “Why did you not leave that evil companion? Why did you not give up that lewd habit, that impure habit?” (123). Arnall most certainly refers to sexual acts, and Stephen (understanding this) is victimized by the notion that the urges he experienced while discovering his male sexual identity will simultaneously ensure his damnation.
Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist thus provides a Catholic incursion into a realm of personal masculine-identity. Using its strict ideology, Catholicism has censored and censured sexuality in an historical context and in the reality of Joyce’s text. Specifically however, Stephen Dedalus has had to bear the anxieties, fears, and doubt that surround his sexual desires. In conjunction with feminist theory, Dedalus’ identity and his allowed actions and behaviors have been dominated and controlled by an established belief system upholding conservative opinions.
Bew, Paul. C.S. Parnell. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1980.
Hickson, Alisdare. The Poisoned Bowl: Sex and the Public School. London: Duckworth,
Hunt, Alan. “The Great Masturbation Panic and the Discourses of Moral Regulation in
Nineteenth and Early Twentieth-Century Britain.” Journal of the History of
Sexuality. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998. 575-615.
Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. New York: Viking Press, 1970.
Mullins, Katherine. James Joyce: Sexuality and Social Purity. Cambridge: Cambridge
Valente, Jospeh. “Thrilled by His Touch: The Aestheticizing of Homosexual Panic in A
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.” James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a
Young Man: A Casebook. Ed. Mark Wollaeger. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2003.
Posted by: Cecilia at April 17, 2009 09:43 PM
Applying Madwoman in the Attic to Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar authored The Madwoman in the Attic, in which through examination of literature, identified the role of women in the literary community. In James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, two female characters Eileen Vanee and an old woman are excellent examples of the different identities that male writers have bestowed upon women.
According to Gilbert and Gubar, during the middle ages the Virgin Mary was the idealized purity figure that women should strive to model after. In literature, one finds this identity in Patmore’s poem, The Angel in the House, in which the daughter displays noble characteristics of unselfish grace, gentleness, simplicity, and nobility—both the epitome of a Victorian lady and angel on earth (Gilbert and Gubar 815). In James Joyce’s novel, Eileen embodies this innocent disposition. Eileen was Stephen’s first love whom he was not allowed to play with because she was a Protestant who made fun of the litany of the Blessed Virgin. Specifically, they would say, “Tower of Ivory, House of Gold! How could a woman be a tower of ivory or a house of Gold?” (Joyce 36). Further on, Stephen describes Eileen as having long white hands with which one evening as they were playing were put over his eyes. According to Steven, these hands were long, white, thin, cold, and soft. Further on in the text, he came to realization that these hands represented ivory, a cold white thing. Thus, by identifying her hands in this way Stephen was comparing Eileen to the Virgin Mary.
Also prevalent in male written literature was the negative portrayal of women as monster figures. In Joyce’s novel, this was seen in the very next dialogue after the section about Eileen. Mr. Casey went on to describe an old lady whom he called a drunken old harridan. Commenting on how she was booing and baaing, he described her actions of dancing beside him in the mud, bawling and screaming in his face (37). Thus, this is a portrayal of the monster woman that Gilbert and Gubar identified.
Both of these female characters in Joyce’s novel were under male subjectivity of description. Eileen personified the angel figure while the old lady was definitely the monster. For feminist critics, Gilbert and Gubar claim that one has to kill the identity of women and angels that men subject women to in literature before a complete understanding of the novel can be attained (812). Thus, by identifying the women characters and the masks placed over them by male writers, will allow readers to further understand the Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
Gilbert, Sandra, Gubar, Susan. “The Madwoman in the Attic”. 1980. Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd ed. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004. 812-825.
Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. New Y
Posted by: Jessica Pall at April 20, 2009 08:36 AM
April 19, 2009
The Desire to Control in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
James Joyce’s novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a Künstlerroman (the Bildungsroman of an artist) tracing the development of the semi-autobiographical character Stephen Dedalus. Portrait follows Stephen from infancy to his eventual escape from Ireland to his artistic Mecca of Paris. The novel is filled with the trials of Stephen to maintain a stable existence. Here, religious and economic strictures become significant in the life of the main character. As a modernist work, the novel presents much distrust of society. Namely, this arises out of the cities in which much of the novel takes place:
The experience of modernity is fostered by the rise of the modern city, and works of modernism do not so much convey this experience as they betray the strain of surviving it and detail their various strategies for doing so. (Leonard 79)
In this tradition, Portrait features the title character attempting to survive the strain that is placed upon his attempts to maintain some semblance of stability. It is in the early development of Stephen that this instability is initiated. Specifically, Stephen’s failed father predisposes his son’s unstable life. Therefore, the monetary failure of the Dedalus family, namely Stephen’s father’s failure as a patriarch, creates in Stephen a recurring and virtually unquenchable desire for control.
Stephen’s father, Simon, begins the novel orating a story to his son. While not unusual, this story is important because it creates (even before Stephen is conscious of it) within his son a grounding in the physical world. The fairy tale is simple: “Once upon a time…there was a moocow… [that] met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo” (Joyce 20). This story, while not fantastic by any means, plays a significant role in that Stephen learns that “He [is] baby tuckoo” (Joyce 20). Despite attempting to entertain his son, Simon’s tale is a failure in its simplicity. It is too earthly. A baby meets a cow. This literary connection to the human world fixes Stephen to the physical. Again, this wouldn’t be a problem if Simon’s later paternal actions were stronger. Critically, it has been noted that Simon is a hyperbolic version of Joyce’s own father. Yet, with Simon, Joyce is depicting his father “as a caricature…whose excesses of oral performance (of song, drink, and foulness of mouth) utterly displace familial, economic, political, and religious obligations” (Friedman 65). Throughout Portrait Stephen notes the embarrassment that he feels at the rash behavior of his father. It is Joyce’s firsthand experience with this behavior that provides realistic intent for the characters.
Initially, Stephen attempts some sort of normalcy in his life. Ironically, as a child, he states that he will marry the neighbors’ daughter, Eileen Vance. But, this is regarded as childhood fantasy and Stephen “will apologize” because of his rash behavior (Joyce 21). Despite the regard as fancy, the political implications of the Dedalus’ immediate refusal and punishment of their son stratify his notions of normalcy. If he were to actually marry Eileen, this would cause political unrest because her family is of a different religion. However, this is not a singular event; eventually, Stephen realizes that his father has failed as a patriarch. Stephen discovers:
In a vague way he understood that his father was in trouble and that this was the reason why he himself had not been sent back to Clongowes. For some time he had felt the slight changes in his house; and these changes in what he had deemed unchangeable were so many slight shocks to his boyish conception of the world. (Joyce 68)
This discovery illuminates to Stephen the falsity of his youth. Even in Stephen’s infancy, the Dedalus family is crumbling because of Simon’s economic failures. The narrator recalls that Stephen “became slowly aware that his father had enemies and that some fight was going to take place” (Joyce 70). This fight, while literally mirroring the economic battle that Simon is going through, actually occurs within Stephen. He attempts to create stability. So, as the Dedalus family’s financial stability declines further, Stephen’s responsibility (or sense of it) increases: “He felt too that he was being enlisted for the fight, that some duty was being laid upon his shoulders” (Joyce 70). Economics are important to Stephen because he is grounded in the physical world. The baby tuckoo myth created this grounding. Obviously the cow and boy relationship resounds of agricultural significance. And, the tuckoo myth even describes economic transactions, noting that a girl “sold lemon platt” (Joyce 20). Stephen is therefore constructed as one who desires economic control and stability.
As he grows, Stephen attempts to escape his grounding and break away from the strictures created by his father. At one point, Stephen takes on his father’s role as principal familial patriarch. He uses his own earned money to purchase the family gifts and groceries. So, “as moneylender and manger of domestic finances, Stephen temporarily assumes the position of household steward” (Osteen 157). This new position for Stephen is ironically referenced in the school play he participates in. Stephen “had the chief part, that of a farcical pedagogue. He had been cast for it on account of his stature and grave manners” (Joyce 76). The sense of familial duty arising from his father’s failure is present in Stephen’s mannerisms. This acting role as a teacher illuminates the importance that Stephen is attempting to possess. Even though he knows “that his father’s property was going to be sold by auction,” Stephen is still interested in attempting to stabilize the family (Joyce 87). However, the constant attempts to structure the Dedalus family fail. And, this failure causes some level of destruction in the person of Stephen. After Stephen’s attempt to maintain the seat of patriarchy by purchasing gifts and groceries, he realizes that he has mostly squandered his money. Upon this, it is noted that “his childhood was dead or lost and with it his soul capable of simple joys; and he was drifting amid life like the barren shell of the moon” (Joyce 94). Stephen, still very young, has failed to lead a childhood. Because of Simon’s paternal failure, Stephen has constantly tried to reorganize the familial structure to one of control. The son has attempted to be the provider at the detriment to his own well-being.
After this failure to organize his family, Stephen enters into the realm of the clerical to organize his being. However, his entrance into the world of religion is actually grounded in the physical. As he hears a sermon preaching the torturous suffering brought about by sinful existence, Stephen fears for his physical survival. He has visited prostitutes and wonders how God has yet to smite him up to this point. Therefore, his attempts at religious devotion are ultimately doomed to fail for they are built upon pretence and not earnest faith. From this, the secular world and clerical world become parallel. Stephen’s attempts at financial maturity saw him privileging money and monetary security. Likewise, he comes to view “God [as] gold, and the house of God [church] is the House of Gold;” so, “he has moved from the material economy to a religious one” (Osteen159). However, the failure of his economic control is the downfall of his new found piety. The failure of Stephen’s behavior is even foreshadowed as he kneels with his uncle Charles but does “not share, his piety” (Joyce 66). Stephen’s regard for the earthly proves too much temptation for his religiosity, which he cannot maintain.
After this failed attempt at religious structure, Stephen “was destined to learn his own wisdom apart from others or to learn the wisdom of others himself wandering among the snares of the world” (Joyce 148). He is resolved in understanding the “snares of the world” in order to garner a new ideal of control. Ultimately, Stephen embarks on an artistic journey. The development of aesthetic ideals creates within him an ability to create a new self. This new development allows him to create an identity separate from that of his father or his religious surroundings. However, because of the construct in which Stephen is, he must escape the city. Therefore, in the end of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Stephen Dedalus resolves that he must flee Ireland for Paris.
In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce creates a semi-autobiographical work in which he examines the ramifications of a childhood marred by failed patriarchy. This failure creates an identity founded on attempts to maintain security. However, because Stephen has yet to experience successful familial structure, he cannot create it. It is upon this understanding that Stephen realizes he must escape his home and create himself.
Friedman, Alan Warren. "Stephen Dedalus's Non Serviam: Patriarchal and Performative Failure in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man." Joyce Studies Annual 13 (2002): 64. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Cannon Memorial Library, Saint Leo, Fl. 17 Apr. 2009 .
Joyce, James A. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism. 1916. Ed. R. B. Kershner. 2nd ed. New York: Bedford, 2005.
Leonard, Garry. "The City, Modernism, and Aesthetic Theory in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man." Novel: A Forum on Fiction 29.1 (1995): 79-99. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Cannon Memorial Library, Saint Leo, Fl. 17 Apr. 2009 .
Osteen, Mark. "The treasure-house of language: Managing symbolic economies in Joyce's Portrait." Studies in the Novel 27.2 (1995): 154. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Cannon Memorial Library, Saint Leo, Fl. 17 Apr. 2009 .
Posted by: Wes J. at April 20, 2009 11:24 AM
April 20, 2009
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: Where are the Females?
In the interest of examining James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist from a feminist perspective, Stephen Dedalus’ interaction with women during this novel of growth is poignant when one considers all of the female archetypes represented, especially, the mother, and the whore.
In Audre Lorde’s essay focusing on examining the differences in the lives of black vs. white women, it would be curious to apply this concept to Joyce’s portrayal of Stephen’s mother and the prostitute Stephen meets with for his first sexual experience. These two women are united in their shared gender, but little else. Stephen’s mother is domesticated. Her priorities lie in reminding Stephen’s of his role in society and his duties he must perform. On the contrary, the prostitute is challenging Stephen’s “squeaky clean” persona and asking him to shed his identity of an innocent, inexperienced young man. The prostitute is a woman whose role is not respected, but she is still sought after, as if her job is important. The difference between the prostitute and Stephen’s mother is not in skin color like Audre Lorde focused on; instead, the prostitute and Stephen’s mother are two women with remarkably different roles intersecting only to impart some kind of significant influence on Stephen.
Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's,
Lorde, Audre. "Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining the Difference." Literary
Theory: An Anthology. Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. 2nd ed. Malden: Blackwell, 2004. 854-60.
Posted by: Liz H at April 20, 2009 12:10 PM
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