A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Summary

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

The "Portrait of an artist as a young man" is based on personal details from the early life of the famous Irish writer James Joyce. He began working on this novel in 1903 after the death of his mother. For the first time "Portrait of an artist as a young man" was published in 1914-1915.

The Plot

The writer presents you the novel of a young man named Stephen. This novel starts from the childhood and ends with the adolescence of Stephen Dedalus, the protagonist. Throughout the novel, readers can observe how the hero grows from a little boy to a young man of eighteen who decides to leave his country for Europe, in order to be an artist. So, this novel begins with the childhood memories of the main character about the family, the school, about falling in love with a girl whom he was ashamed to come around. His life changes because of financial difficulties of his father, the hard times in the family are coming. Stephen studies in college and receives a scholarship, which he spends on a posh dinner with his family, and then for other entertainments. Everything ends with the attendance to a brothel. His sin is burdensome, but he cannot confess in the school church since because he is very ashamed. Stephen goes to university, his family lives in the poor, the young man is changing very much. And eventually meets his sweetheart, but he tries to talk to her on general topics and they say goodbye, as he leaves.

The Main Characters

  • Stephen Dedalus is the protagonist of this story. Throughout the novel, Stephen goes through long phases of hedonism and deep religiosity in his life. Yet he tries to find the truth of life and he accepts the philosophy of aesthetics, appreciating beauty and art. Actually, Stephen is the alter ego of Joyce. Many of Stephen's life events reflect events from Joyce's own youth.
  • Simon Dedalus is Stefan's father, an impoverished former medical student with a strong sense of Irish nationalism. Simon Daedalus has experienced difficult financial times. He often remembers his youth and always discusses political topics. This hero is based on Joyce's own father and their relationship.
  • Mary Dedalus is Stefan's mother, who is very religious and inculcates a love of religion for all her children. She and Stephen often argued about religion and his visits to services.
  • Emma Clery is a girl whom Stephen loved. This attraction lasts for many years, but he is afraid to approach it. She only writes poetry for her. For Stephen, this girl became the ideal of femininity.
  • Charles Stewart Parnell is an Irish political leader who is not as such a character. But he is constantly remembered and his death affects many other characters.
  • Cranly is Stephen's best university friend, to whom he trusts some of his views and feelings. Cranly tried to influence Stephen so that he would meet the wishes of his family and other peers. This was very indignant to Stephen. It was Cranly who influenced Stephen's decision to leave because he saw that he and Emma had a loving relationship.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Analysis

"A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" - an autobiographical novel, reworked from a text called "Hero Stephen." "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" - the first complete novel by James Joyce, whose main character (Stephen Dedalus) will pass to the next grandiose book of Joyce - "Ulysses."

Most of Joyce's work is based on the Irish experience. Stephen Daedalus is sometimes a pseudonym of Joyce; some facts of their biography are similar. Joyce plays a decisive role in the modernist movement in literature. Some of the famous innovative methods used by Joyce are symbolism, realism, flows of consciousness and epiphany. James Joyce's writings contain autobiographical matter and show his view of life in Dublin, Ireland, using innovative methods. Joyce was born into a family of middle-class Catholics in Dublin, Ireland, on February 2, 1882.

The Symbols

The name of the character "Stephen Daedalus" combines elements of Greek and Christian myths. The author identifies the hero with the first Christian martyr Stephen. The author's choice of the name Dedalus opens readers the source of the greatest thematic parallel of romance. The myth of Daedalus and Icarus, the story of the cunning Greek inventor and his ill-fated, impetuous son, is the basis responsible for the main images and symbols that pervade the novel. Ancient Greek mythical figure Daedalus also engaged in the struggle for autonomy as Stephan.

The Main Idea

In the novel "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" the reader learns about the concrete experiences of Stephen Daedalus as an artist perceives his surroundings, as well as his views on faith, religion, love, family, and politic. The readers can see how these perceptions often contradict those that are prescribed to him by society. As a result, the artist feels distanced from the world. Unfortunately, this sense of distance and detachment is misinterpreted by other people as the egoist's proud attitude. Thus, the artist, already feeling isolated, is increasingly aware of a certain increasing, painful social alienation.

Joyce reveals turbulent teenage feelings with the help of a descriptive technique called the flow of consciousness. He takes the reader both to the conscious mind and to the subconscious, demonstrating to him the subjective and objective realities of the situation. The natural, maturing sexual motivations of Stephen confuse him even more. Stephen is a very smart, sensitive and eloquent young man, but he also has feelings of urgent sexuality, self-sufficiency, and insecurity - all the universal emotions that experience during the development of the average teenage man. Using Stephen Daedalus, he explores the depths of the human heart.

The Criticism

Joyce is arguably the most influential modern writer. His influence on the fictional technique of twentieth-century writers, from traditional realists to the most wildly experimental postmodernists, has been decisive. That is why it is not surprising how much criticism for his work. Many publishers criticize him for his description of the smells. Many people think that his novel is absurd. But nevertheless, it has been read and continues to read. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is Joyce's most widely-read work.

Ideas for Your Essay Writing

To write an essay on the Joyce novel is a usual task for a student. Here you can find possible topics for writing your academic assignment on the basis of this novel.

  • The desire for independence in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
  • Perception of Stephen's Environment.
  • An Interpretation of the Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man.
  • An Analysis the concepts of Religion in 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man' by James Joyce.
  • Describe the similarities in the biography of Stephen Dedalus and James Joyce.
  • Give the description of the symbol of femininity in Joyce’s “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.”
  • Describe the feelings of Stephen Dedalus in “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” by James Joyce.