A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Study Guide

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Study Guide

Original title:
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Published March 25th 2003 by Penguin Classics (first published 1916)
Clongowes Wood College, Kildare(Ireland)
ISBN 0142437344 (ISBN13: 9780142437346)

In writing his novel “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”, James Joyce, one of the greatest masters of the thread of consciousness style in literature, managed to combine a political discourse with a fascinating plot. Together with the moments of epiphany, the book takes unexpected turns and will make for a very exciting reading.

The events of the book are intermingled with actual Joyce’s life. The main character is named Stephen Dedalus, which immediately makes a reference to Joyce’s pseudonym Daedalus used for his earliest works. The character even attends the same educational institutions as his author.

Stephen finds himself surrounded with strong opinions about faith, governance, furious political disagreements and intrigues. Having to live in the society that is torn between different ideas of its future, in times when one of the leaders dies leaving the country lost and confused, Stephen is to make his own decisions and stand up for them.

The multiple dimensions of the story catch your attention and make you keep reading it till the very last page. The reader finds himself amongst the ideological fight between Catholicism and Protestantism, fierce confrontation between Independence movement and Britain rule supporters, let alone financial struggles of the protagonist’s family that yet managed to send him to the most prestigious schools.

Have you ever felt trapped in the conditions you grew up with? So did Stephen and he tried to break free from the way his family lived. All he wanted was to experience another way of life. Away from religious norms, political constraints and moral judgments. When in the end he returns to the religion he once ran away from, it is because of his own choice.

The book is about learning to except differences, experiencing new ways of life, accepting your inner voice and living one’s life the way you enjoy.

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