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

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

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Throughout the story A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce we see Stephen's struggle with Catholicism, sin and his destiny. In Stephen's life, which almost mirrors Joyce's, Catholicism is a big part but it fades and in it's place comes art. The title alone tells us that he is an artist not that he is Catholic. It is Joyce's priority to tell us about himself as an artist and how he became to be one, by rejecting Catholicism.
Just like most Irish folk, Stephen Dedalus is a devout Catholic. Catholicism dominates Stephen's life and completely controls his emotions, thoughts and actions. From an early age Stephen was in the grasp of Catholicism. While attending Clongowes Wood College Stephen prays before he goes to bed “so that he might not go to hell when he [dies].”(15) Even after the praying, just to go to sleep he would have to console himself saying “he would not go to hell when he died; and the shaking would stop.”(15) To be this fearful as a child because of religion would be a substantial reason to move away from it. Stephen was probably eight years old at this time and for a child, this level of fear is unreasonable and possibly hurtful to his mental health.
Again in Clongowes Wood College Stephen is abused by one of the Fathers. Father Dolan comes into class one day and hits Fleming, one of Stephen's classmates, with the pandybat six times on each hand. After berating and beating Fleming, Father Dolan notices Stephen is not doing his work. Father Arnall who is teaching the class tells Father Dolan that he is excused because his glasses broke. Father Dolan doesn't believe this and scolds Stephen saying “Lazy little schemer. I see schemer in your face....Lazy idle little loafer.”(44) He then...


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... Stephen was exhibiting characteristics of an artist, he would take threats meant to scare children into doing the right thing and turn it into a song.
Ultimately, Stephen rejects Catholicism as his religion because of the trauma it has caused him and because it is too restricting for an artist like himself and replaces religion with art. After his rejection of Catholicism Stephen starts thinking like an artist, examining the soul and aesthetics. Even his namesake, Daedalus evokes the image of an artist and creator. Daedalus was a creator from Greek mythology that Stephen identifies himself as with great pride. Also, the next story Joyce writes is Ulysses, a story pertaining to Greek mythology whose main character is a Jew. Greek were also Pagan so it's possible to say that as Stephen/Joyce rejected Catholicism he started to accept Paganism as his religion.

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