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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce Essay

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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce explores the place of the individual with respect to his culture and his environment. However, when Edmund Fuller, so carelessly said that the premise of the novel is that man must worship his creativity in place of God or risk denying himself, I was greatly disappointed due to the lack of precision of the view expounded by Fuller. Based on evidence from Joyce himself, one can see that God is still relevant. Edmund gives the impression that God to Joyce is dead. Ultimately, Edmund suggest that the individual must decide between himself and God, but in reality what Joyce wishes to demonstrate is the fine balance between admiring the mind and respecting God. To fully explore this premise, the book must be divided into two parts, pre-inspiration and post-inspiration, inspiration being the point when he finally realizes his aim in life, to be a humble servant to the freedom of expression. More precisely, this point is when he visits the beach and sees the girl standing on the beach shore, watching the waves.
From a very tender age, Stephen has been raised to love the Catholic faith however as he grows up he is placed in precarious situations in which his understating of his faith comes into question. Now, this questioning does not immediately lead to the mistrust in faith, rather many times his faith is actually strengthened by it. Let’s not forget that the source of his curiosity was God and the realization of his grandeur. On page 13, Joyce writes, “Dieu was the French for God . . . But though there were different names for God in all the different languages in the world and God understood what all the people who prayed said in their different languages still God remained alw...


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..., as if the seraphim themselves were breathing upon him!” (235). Notice first how he connect his soul to his mind. This clearly reveals that to Stephen, the concept of God as he sees it is still a source of inspiration. Without God, Stephen’s creativity is nothing. His soul must be moved first before he can engage his mind. It this villanelle, a similar approach is taken. After the initial inspiration from the angels, he connects his feelings about his life and Emma to the original inspiration to write his first poem. With such a plethora of evidence from Stephen’s own mouth and his actions, one can see that Fuller is wrong in his assessment that the premise is that man must worship his creativity in place of God or risk denying himself. To Stephen, it is not God, rather the Church that he disagrees with, a distinction that Fuller does not include in his quote.




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