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The Role of Women in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Powerful Essays
James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man presents an account of the formative years of aspiring author Stephen Dedalus. "The very title of the novel suggests that Joyce's focus throughout will be those aspects of the young man's life that are key to his artistic development" (Drew 276). Each event in Stephen's life -- from the opening story of the moocow to his experiences with religion and the university -- contributes to his growth as an artist. Central to the experiences of Stephen's life are, of course, the people with whom he interacts, and of primary importance among these people are women, who, as his story progresses, prove to be a driving force behind Stephen's art.

As A Portrait of the Artist progresses, the structure of the relationship between Stephen, women, and art becomes increasingly clear. At one point in the novel, Stephen comes to the conclusion that his art involves "recreat[ing] life out of life" (434) and, at another, that he must "encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and forge in my soul" (Joyce 526). He realizes that to fulfill his destiny as an artist, he must embrace life and the experiences of which it consists, for it is from experience that he builds his creations. In light of this revelation, Stephen's life becomes "a process of accumulating experiences, as well as a struggle to break free of those institutions that would prevent him from doing so" (Peake 64). For Stephen, inspiration requires experience, and it is through women that Stephen gains the latter and, thus, receives the former. Peake

Stephen's relationship with the opposite sex begins to develop early in his life. Within the first few pages of the novel lie hints of the different roles women will...

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...s Joyce. The Modern Library. 1928. 5-11. Rpt. in Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. ed. Dennis Poupard. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1985. 16:203-205.

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. New York: Bantam Books, 1992.

Kenner, Hugh. "Joyce's Portrait -- A Reconsideration". The University of Windsor Review. vol.1, no. 1. Spring, 1965. 1-15. Rpt. in Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. ed. Dennis Poupard. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1985. 16:229-234.

Litz, A. Walton. James Joyce. New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1966.

Peake, C.H. James Joyce: The Citizen and The Artist. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1977. 56-109.

Pope, Deborah. "The Misprision of Vision: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man". James Joyce. vol.1. ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986. 113-19.
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