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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

JAMES JOYCE

B - He was one of the first writers to make extensive and convincing use of stream of
consciousness, a stylistic form in which written prose seeks to represent the characters'
stream of inner thoughts and perceptions rather than render these characters from an
objective, external perspective. This technique, used in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young
Man mostly during the opening sections and in Chapter 5, sometimes makes for difficult
reading. With effort, however, the seemingly jumbled perceptions of stream of
consciousness can crystallize into a coherent and sophisticated portrayal of a character's
experience.

Another stylistic technique for which Joyce is noted is the epiphany, a moment in which a
character makes a sudden, profound realizationwhether prompted by an external object
or a voice from withinthat creates a change in his or her perception of the world. Joyce
uses epiphany, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is full of these sudden moments of
spiritual revelation. Most notable is a scene in which Stephen sees a young girl wading at
the beach, which strikes him with the sudden realization that an appreciation for beauty
can be truly good. This moment is a classic example of Joyce's belief that an epiphany can
dramatically alter the human spirit in a matter of just a few seconds.
Perhaps the most famous aspect of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is Joyce's
innovative use of stream of consciousness, a style in which the author directly transcribes
the thoughts and sensations that go through a character's mind, rather than simply
describing those sensations from the external standpoint of an observer. Joyce's use of
stream of consciousness makes A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man a story of the
development of Stephen's mind. The development of Stephen's consciousness in A Portrait
of the Artist as a Young Man is particularly interesting because, insofar as Stephen is a
portrait of Joyce himself, Stephen's development gives us insight into the development of a
literary genius. Stephen's experiences hint at the influences that transformed Joyce himself
into the great writer he is considered today: Stephen's obsession with language; his
strained relations with religion, family, and culture; and his dedication to forging an
aesthetic of his own mirror the ways in which Joyce related to the various tensions in his
life during his formative years.
Stylistically, the novel is written as a third-person narrative with minimal dialogue, though
towards the very end of the book dialogue-intensive scenes and finally journal entries by
Stephen are introduced to mirror his alienation from society. The narrator is anonymous,
and speaks with the same voice and tone that Stephen might. Although most of A Portrait
of the Artist as a Young Man is in the third person, the point of view is Stephen's: as
Stephen develops as a person, the language and perspective of the narration develop with
him. We see everything in the manner in which he thinks and feels it. At the very end of
the novel, there is a brief section in which the story is told through Stephen's diary entries.
This section is in the first person. The tone is generally serious and introspective, especially
during Stephen's several heartfelt epiphanies Since the work covers Stephen's life from the
time he was a child to his growing independence and ultimate abandoning of Ireland as a
young man, the style of the work progresses through each of its five chapters, with the
complexity of language gradually increasing. However, throughout the work, language and
prose are used to portray indirectly the state of mind of the protagonist, and the subjective
impact of the events of his life. Hence the fungible length of some scenes and chapters,
where Joyce's intent was to capture the subjective experience through language, rather
than to present the actual experience through prose narrative. The book is set in Joyce's
native Ireland, especially in Dublin. It deals with many Irish issues such as the quest for
autonomy and the role of the Catholic church. A particular figure, who is also mentioned in
Dubliners and Ulysses, and alluded to in Finnegans Wake, is the Irish leader Charles
Stewart Parnell