Essay on A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Essay on A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

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James Joyce in his novel “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” says “The object of the artist is the creation of the beautiful.” (134) For Stephen Dedalus after the reoccuring stream of consciousness throughout his youth, one of the factors of his creation into the artist is women. Indeed it is the women throughout the novel that shape Stephen into the man he finds himself becoming toward the end. Six women in particular that form specific functions in Stephens life are: Stephen’s mother, Eileen, Mercedes, the Virgin Mary, the prostitute, the birdlike woman by the water. These women affect and shape his character by loving him, inspiring him, and fascinating him.
The novel starts right off with the notion of a love between a mother and son. Even at a young age Stephen is able to distinguish that his mother is a source of pure unabridged love. “His mother had a nicer smell than his father.”(1) At a very young age the artist is already beginning to form because of women, he is beginning to see beauty through the senses. “His mother put her lips on his cheek; her lips were soft and they wetted his cheek; and they made a tiny little noise: kiss.”(7) This scene occurs very early on with Stephens mother Mary Dedalus here and throughout the novel helps in teaching him right and wrong what is to be expected, but above all show him the capacity to love and understand what is to be loved unconditionally. Stephens mother is also is there in all the key moments in Stephens life; in his leaving to boarding school as a child, then in leaving to London. In these instances she shows perhaps an overprotectiveness toward him in the cleaning of his ears once already an adult, in advising him on friends and money throughout his youth while al...


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...ption of the Virgin Mary, and long ago is the childish impulse to hide away under a table. For the seaside woman is truly a balance of all the women before her. “Her eyes had called him and his soul had leaped at the call. To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life!”(123) Recreate life, there lies the true nature of an artist recreate life for others to see through the eyes of another.
The women which Stephen comes across in his journey in becoming an artist define him and change him by nurturing him, fascinating him, and inspiring him. Stephen was forever changed by his mother, the Virgin Mary, Eileen, the prostitute, and the seaside woman. The object of the artist is to create the object of the beautiful, I argue that it was the beauty in the women of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which created the artist in the end.



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