Essay on Portrait of the Artist as A Young Man and The Wall

Essay on Portrait of the Artist as A Young Man and The Wall

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The Artist in Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as A Young Man and Pink Floyd's The Wall

 
    Foragers, the people who live in hunter-gatherer societies, have no artists. It is only when society becomes complex enough to support a division of labor do artists emerge-first as shamans, then as the painters, singers, writers, etc., that we usually think of today. Society, then, creates the artist, but it can also destroy him. In A Portrait of the Artist as A Young Man, James Joyce describes the particular development of Stephan Dedalus that led to his becoming an artist. Pink's development in Pink Floyd's The Wall, mirrors that of Stephen yet concludes in the destruction of the artist.

 

An important similarity between them is their isolation. Joyce believed that the separation from society is important for an artist in order to see society clearly. Common people are easily swayed by authority figures, as Dante and other Irish Catholics are against Parnell by the church's condemnation, or by other trendy movements such as the peace testimonial, all of which are rejected by Stephen in the end. When Stephen in his discourse on beauty describes the basket, he says "your mind first of all separates the basket from the rest of the visible universe which is not the basket. The first phase of apprehension is a bounding line drawn about the object to be apprehended" (212). Thus, by extension, if an artist is to apprehend the society, a line must be bound around society separating the artist from it in order to view it; it is difficult in a maze of hedges to comprehend the pattern, but when viewed from above the paths in and out become clear. The artist must stand outside the changeable mindset of the average human being in orde...


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...at make up the crowd or the eerie, bulbous faces on the train. Stephen fulfils his role as an artist by becoming a sort of teacher-shaman as he gives his discourses on esthetics to Lynch and prepares to depart into the world, like some wandering monk or sage. Separate from society he is able to search out and convey the truth of society. Pink's isolation, however, utterly destroys him. Unable to endure, the wall is torn down by the hammer of conformity and Pink becomes the very personification of repressive society. If the role of the artist is to objectively show society the truth of itself, then Pink emerges an artwork in himself, an accurate mirror of the forces that shaped him.

 

 

Works Cited

 

Joyce, James. A Portriat of the Artist as a Young Man. New York: Penguin Books, 1976.

 

Pink Floyd. The Wall. Sony Wonder Studios, 1982.

 

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