Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Explication

A Portrait of The Artist As A Young Man: Light

In a Portrait of The Artist As A Young Man Stephen Deadulus is a young man who is maturing throughout his young adult hood. Stephen is a young man who was brought up in a good family. Throughout out his childhood and young adulthood he begins to question and wonder about the many things life has to offer. His curiosity and knowledge of religion and politics that surround his country Ireland push him towards growing up. In the two passages on page 49 and 67 the author James Joyce suggest that the images of light refer to the emotions Stephen Deadulus is feeling throughout his maturing stages.

The first passage takes place after there is speculation that a group of boys stole the altar wine from the church. “The fellows were all silent, Stephen stood among them, afraid to speak listening.”(49) James Joyce shows Stephens hesitation to speak up for himself he is very timid around the other boys in the school. After hearing the news Stephen feels a sense of “sickness”(49) and “weak”(49). Stephen is in shock of what he is hearing because he knows that punishment will be server. Stephen is also in silent because he is questioning the actions of these boys “How could they have done that?”(49) James Joyce shows that Stephen is not a troublemaker and obeys authority. Stephen’s mind is unable to give reason to these boys’ actions. It shows that he has never been involved in such behavior. This shows that he is maturing realizing the wrong in others and recognizing the consequences that come along with a persons actions.

James Joyce offers Stephens emotions throughout his use of light. When Stephen is afraid or nervous in a situation James Joyce uses dark images to express Stephen’s emotions, “ He thought of the dark silent sacristy.”(49) Stephen sees this Holy place dark because he is scared of what really lies within the sacristy. But Stephen also sees the importance of the sacristy but the dark image represents the untouchable for him. He believes that this is a place he is not worthy of entering or destroying because it is bigger than he is as a person. “There were dark wooden presses there where the crimped surplices lay quietly folded.”(49) Joyce continues to use these dark images to represent the sacristy. This represents why Stephen questioned the boys who would have stole the wine because he sees it as something that should not be disturbed. He is showing maturity through his reaction to this event because he understands how wrong this incident is within his religion. “It was a holy place”(49) that should not be tampered with. 

James Joyce also shows Stephens maturity through his fascination with a character Mercedes from The Count of Monte Cristo. “The figure of that dark avenger stood forth in his mind”, Stephen sees this avenger of unreachable or not worthy of him. Yet the passage shifts and he imagines a “bright picture of Marseilles, of sunny trellises and of Mercedes”. The “sunny” represents hope and exploration for Stephen. James Joyce is able to use progression of imagery through color. This helps to show that Stephen is maturing and becoming more interested in sexual activities. He is stepping out of his boy hood into adult hood with his a new adult imagination. This imagination is much different then Stephens past imagination it is much more mature then his childhood wonders. 
He imagines him self “older and sadder, standing in a moonlit garden with Mercedes who had so many years before slighted his love.” James Joyce now shifts Stephens’s imagination to a disappointing time he was turned down by Mercedes his love but is now confronted by her again. The “moonlit” garden shows to aspects the dark of the night represents the untouchable for Stephen. He was not willing to have Mercedes the way he wished. But the light from the moon represents the hope in Stephen for Mercedes. He is hopeful for her return. Even though faced with the darkness of the night the light from the moon gives him happiness. James Joyce uses a conflict of light and darkness to show Stephens realization, which is able to show his mature thinking.

James Joyce represents Stephens’s maturity through his images of light. With his shifts from light to darkness he is able to come across new life lessons. With the wine he is able to see the horrible sin through the darkness of the light. Through Mercedes he is able to see hope, love, and new ideas of sexual activities proving that he is coming out of boyhood into adulthood.

1 comment:

Emily T 6 said...

This was my first explication on A Portrait of the Artist as Young Man. I think it shows progress in my explication although it isn't a great essay you can see my progress. More importantly in my next explication on this novel you can see my progress once again.