Essay on James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Essay on James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

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James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man


A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce, exemplifies the model of art it proposes as it also offers the reader on how to read that very art. Following the main character, Stephen Dedalus, through life, Joyce uses Stephen’s immediate perception to convey how an artist views the world. The reader witnesses Stephen encountering everyday aspects of life as art—the words of a language lesson as poetry or the colors of a rose as beautiful. Through Stephen’s voyage and words, Joyce introduces the theory that “beauty” as a label for an object is not born from the actual physical object itself, but rather lies within the process one goes through when encountering the object. Joyce’s theory is also experienced by the reader as he or she encounters Stephen’s perceptions as well as the beauty of the poetic language and vivid description within Joyce’s narrative. The rhythmic patterns and stylistic sentences create a multitude of authorial voices that blend at various points in the novel involving Joyce, Stephen, and the reader.

In order to understand Joyce’s theory of beauty, the process that occurs must be de-constructed. Beauty can be found in vastly different contexts—the sun setting over the ocean or the Mona Lisa hanging in The Louvre in Paris—yet every experience has been
created by someone or something, an artist or nature. In the novel, Joyce begins his examination of the process with the role of the
artist: “The object of the artist is the creation of the beautiful. What the beautiful is is another question” (Joyce 185). ‘What the beautiful is’ does not refer to what objects are considered be beautiful, but to the elements that are involved in calling s...


... middle of paper ...


... feel of walking through the park on a crisp winter day—by exaggerating them and bringing them to the forefront. They had gotten lost in the routine of everyday life. Joyce’s novel is meant to do the same thing; it brings beauty and the reaction to it to the forefront through Stephen, giving the reader a frame through which he or she can recognize the forgotten beauty of his or her own surrounding world.



Works Cited

Bahktin, M.M. The Dialogic Imagination. Texas: University of Texas Press, 1981.

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. New York: Penguin Group,
1977.

Koundoura, Maria. “Jeanette Winterson: 1959-.” Modern British Women Writers: An A-
to-Z Guide. Ed. Vicki K. Janik and Del Ivan Janik. Connecticut: Greenwood
Press, 2002. 379-384.

Winterson, Jeanette. Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery. New York: Knopf,
1996.

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Essay on James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

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