Analysis Of The Opening Passage From Joyce 's Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man

Analysis Of The Opening Passage From Joyce 's Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man

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The opening passage from Joyce’s ‘Portrait of the artist as a young man’ sketches out elements of the human consciousness, and entraps an essence of the internal voice. Joyce rebelled against conventions of the novel, destabilizing the standard writing style of authoritative third person narrative, electing to focalise on the individual subjective consciousness. This essay aims to explore Joyce’s use of the subjective consciousness to capture human experience, and discusses the complex aesthetic technique involved. Baudelaire’s early sense of modernity as the ‘transient’ and ‘fleeting’ will be engaged in order to analyse the short lived nature of experience and thoughts.

Joyce attempts to depict a child’s consciousness, asserting a voice to the commonly marginalised passive voice. He strives to stay true to the voice he has empowered, whilst simultaneously highlighting his artistic technique.

A realistic representation and characterisation of a child is presented within the text. The passage mimics the thought process, structure, and essence of child’s consciousness in a credible manner. Stephen’s consciousness is deployed through the words of a narrator yet; Joyce remains loyal in depicting the consciousness of a child. Woolf states that Joyce ‘is concerned…to reveal the flickerings of that innermost brain’ (Woolf, 2008.11). The passage is embedded with flickers of images, thoughts, and memories through which the reader is able to achieve glimpses into Stephen’s thought process. This enables an intimacy with the reader, allowing them to access Stephen’s ‘innermost’ thoughts, and receive information directly, without it having been laced with the tone, or opinions of the narrator.

Joyce employs several techniques in order ...


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...d artisans rebelling against conventions of their art form. Bergson’s theories on consciousness surfaced leading modernists such as Joyce to experiment. Joyce responds to modernity through experimenting with the narrative form subjective consciousness, to capture experience, and its slippery nature.




In conclusion, through offering a distorted yet flowing narrative Joyce embodied the complexity of modernity within his work. The abstract complex nature of Stephen’s consciousness is depicted throughout. Initially, this cluster of thoughts, impressions, and stories may be assumed as jargon yet, a closer appreciation reveals scrupulous intricacy and skill. Therefore, enabling the reader to gain glimpses into another’s consciousness as well as the era, perhaps enabling them to understand their own experiences and consciousness better, regardless of their time in place.

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