The Portrait Of An Artist As A

Young Man Essay, Research Paper

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Manby James Joyce

In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce, several uses of imagery are used in relation to themes and motifs. Categories of these uses of imagery are in such literary devices as motifs, sensory details, color, and the stream of consciousness. With all this imagery and devices, Joyce can use it and Stephen to explore the depths of the human mind and the human heart.

Motifs such as names and the role of the artist are present in the novel. Stephan?s last name Dedalus is abundant of imagery itself. Daedalus, in Greek mythology, is a man who built wings for his son who flew too close to the sun and fell into the sea. He also became imprisoned in a labyrinth he built for Minotaur, the half-man, half-bull. These in depth details are symbolic of Stephen?s quest through life. Stephen is symbolic of Icarus in that despite the warnings of his family and spiritual restraints, he is drawn to literature and art which casts him into sin. Like Daedalus, who was trapped in the labyrinth, he is searching for a means of escape from the spiritual, emotional, and moral restraints set by his clergy, family, and fabricated Catholic conscience. The role or the use of the artist in the novel suggests similarities to a priest or to God, even though Stephen declines the offer to join the priesthood due to his natural, rebellious tendencies. The role of the artist is to show how a man who is so distant and wrapped up in his own life?s integrity can express himself and share himself with the world. The use of the artist can also relate to the modern world when thinking that we cannot understand an artist or their work, that may be the only way they can express themselves to society. Sensory details such as hot/cold, wet/dry, and light/dark are widely used in the novel for imagery purposes and bringing together images and themes. As Stephen matures, his mind becomes developed into a output of natural response and learned response. These are symbolic of the wet versus dry conflict. Such as in his youth, ?wetting the bed? was considered wrong and resulting in discipline. The cesspool in which Stephen was thrown in and the ?flood? of sexual feeling which results in sin and then guilt are all reasons which decipher that wet is natural and bad and dry is learned and good. Referring to hot and cold, the warmth of love and the cold of hate obviously conflict each other. In his youth, Stephen prefers the warmth of his mother?s love rather than his stubborn, weak father. Stephen?s first sexual experience with the Dublin prostitute was also ?warm? for him which emphasizes the matter of Stephen preferring hot over cold. The cold, wetness of the cesspool and the coldness of the isolation from his schoolmates and church are also examples of the relationship between hot and cold imagery. Light versus dark is a popular contrast in many literary works. Light and dark also can be compared to knowledge and ignorance. Stephen is ?meant to be? ignorant of the Protestant faith and of sex but his fondness and curiosity about other faiths and of women are intense which entices him to gain knowledge about them. The comparison between goodness and sin is also used when the lure of a more meaningful life introduces him into sin and abandonment of the Catholic faith. In Stephen?s mind the clergy is blind(dark) about his thoughts and ambitions and he knows(light) that there is more to life than what only they see.

The stream of consciousness and color imagery are also used to relate imagery as a whole to the themes and motifs. Small, inconspicuous details of color can be found and looked into to find different imagery and symbolism. Lynch, Stephen?s irreverent and crude friend uses the word ?yellow? instead of the word ?bloody? indicating a cowardly way of life that Lynch is drawn to. Also, the choice of white or red roses for Stephen?s class scholastic teams was given to Stephen yet he wanted a ?green? rose symbolizing his creative soul. Taking the reader through Stephen?s conscience and sub conscience mind along with subjective and objective realities of his life, Joyce can successfully use the stream of consciousness to show Stephen?s situation. Joyce slowly reveals the depths of Stephen?s soul through this narrative technique and takes the reader through his life as if the reader is going through with what Stephen is. The conscience mind of Stephen is that of which the Catholic clergy and family of his has molded throughout his youth. His sub conscience mind is a mind lurking deep within him which eventually comes out and takes over his life. Objective realities such as those seen only through the eyes of a Dublin native who has never really expressed their self or seen the world are that of the clergy and Stephen?s family. The subjective realities are those which Stephen ponders of and urns to do and see these realities. They are what drives him to escape the church and all fabricated restraints early in his life.

With all this imagery and all these devices, Joyce is able to use those devices and Stephen to explore the human mind and the human heart. This novel his extremely abundant in imagery and connections between those images and the themes and motifs. The physiological aspect of this novel is extraordinary and gives the reader a whole new view on life and spirituality. Different themes of conformity and rebellion are greatly examined by Joyce and are understandable by ingenious use of imagery of all kinds. Sensory details and color are two great aspects that gave the novel a more intriguing and entertaining nature. All together, Joyce?s adequate use of images and literary devices not only brought the imagery and themes/motifs together but also the novel as a whole.

Word count: 1050



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