The changing mind of Stephen

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To paint a complete portrait of Stephen, James Joyce uses a stream of consciousness in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man that varies in complexity as Stephen ages. As Stephen ages his consciousness begins to analyze and criticize the world. Although his complexity of language increases, Stephen concentrates on a few topics which are marked by epiphanies such as sex, religion and Ireland. The narrator emulates Stephen’s mind at stages of development from the simplicity of early language to the awareness in the later chapters. Joyce uses a change in syntax, imagery and choice of detail to illustrate the change in consciousness over time. The opening lines to A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man immediately fall into baby talk: “Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy names baby tuckoo...His father told him that story: his father looked at him through a glass: he had a hairy face.” The narrator’s point of view seems to be connected directly to Stephen. The word choice of “moocow”,”nicens” and “tuckoo”,the syntax and the lack of a consistent thought are used shows the childish and primitiveness of Stephen at this age. The narrator also includes observations that child's mind would notice, such as the “hairy face” of his father. The first epiphany also appears with the “moocow”. The moocow is the image of the nurturing nature of Ireland. Stephen as a child refers to the moo cow's presence as being a “very good time”. This alludes to him feeling positive about Ireland nurturing him. The image of Ireland as a nurturing homeland is contrasted with the repression of religion in another series of epiphany. ... ... middle of paper ... ...ession is always on Stephen’s mind. As he watches the bird’s fly above him the artistic consciousness shows it’s maturation. “What birds were they?” Stephen asks himself as he begins to artistically analyze them and actions. “He watched their flight; bird after bird....They were flying high and low but ever round and round in straight and curving lines and ever flying from left to right, circling about a temple of air.” Stephen mind captures details and draws their path. The artist, Stephen creates a metaphor to represent how he sees the movement, “circling about a temple of air”. His mind has matured from the simple details and into complex retelling. This continues with the bird’s cries. “Their cry .... like threads of silken light unwound from whirring spools”. Stephen’s artistic mind uses a simile to describe their cries; illustrating how he is consciousness has
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