The Role of Women in a Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man by James Joyce

The Role of Women in a Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce presents a dichotomy of the roles of women in society, depicting them as religious figures, wives, or prostitutes. But in this spectrum of female characters lies one of Stephen Daedalus' primary inspirations for exploring his true identity which seems to be muddled, from his exile from Ireland, his family and religion which results in a call to writing away from the responsibilities of traditional, domesticated life. Stephen's fluctuating perceptions of female figures in this novel help procure his development from a devout Catholic to an independent and spiritually ...

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upon her image, a strange unrest crept into his blood" (Joyce 67)

Stephen's initial perceptions of women are fairly pure as conceived through his religious upbringing. Stephen's idolization of the pure female figure stems from the Virgin Mary and is projected onto the female characters of this phase, like Eileen and even more so, Emma. One of Stephen's first encounters with the opposite sex is with Eileen, a playmate of his that he intends to marry. These strong emotions tied to the concept foreshadows that his relationships to women will be critical in Stephen's maturation as an artist. Stephen never interacts with Emma, thus increasing her purity level -- she is not `soiled' , therefore representing a pureness that Stephen does not wish to compromise. Additionally Stephen couples Emma and the Virgin Mary in his thoughts of female wholesomeness. Stephen's passionate commitment to the Virgin Mary exemplifies his tendency to project the image and role of the female depending ...

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the swoon of sin, softer than sound or odour" (Joyce 108). In this consciously elevated state of mind, Stephen's verbal skills are in veritably heightened as his narration is full of alliteration--("vehicle...vague," "swoon of sin", "softer than sound. ") Stephen's experience with the prostitute is not only physical, but a spiritual experience that transcends him from his reality of poverty and strict, religious convictions. However, Stephen is still very much in tune with his initial female perceptions as shaped through the Virgin Mary, even though the concepts of a prostitute and the Virgin Mary oppose each other. This is evidenced through Stephen's divine description of his ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 10/29/2012 11:13:12 PM
Submitted By: necron99
Category: English
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 1439
Pages: 6

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