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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

James Joyce

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full title ·  A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

author · James Joyce

type of work · Novel

genre · Bildungsroman, autobiographical novel

language · English

time and place written · 1907–1915; Trieste, Dublin, Zurich

date of first publication · 1916

publisher · B. W. Huebsch, New York

narrator · The narrator is anonymous, and speaks with the same voice and tone that Stephen might.

point of view · Although most of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is in the third person, the point of view is Stephen's: as Stephen develops as a person, the language and perspective of the narration develop with him. We see everything in the manner in which he thinks and feels it. At the very end of the novel, there is a brief section in which the story is told through Stephen's diary entries. This section is in the first person.

tone · The tone is generally serious and introspective, especially during Stephen's several heartfelt epiphanies.

tense · Past

setting (time) · 1882–1903

setting (place) · Primarily Dublin and the surrounding area

protagonist · Stephen Dedalus

major conflict · Stephen struggles to decide whether he should be loyal to his family, his church, his nation, or his vocation as an artist.

rising action · Stephen's encounters with prostitutes; his emotional reaction to Father Arnall's hellfire sermons; his temporary devotion to religious life; his realization that he must confront the decision of whether to center his life around religion or art

climax · Stephen's decision in Chapter 4 to reject the religious life in favor of the life of an artist

falling action · Stephen's enrollment in University College, where he gradually forms his aesthetic theory; Stephen's distancing of himself from his family, church, and nation

themes · The development of individual consciousness; the pitfalls of religious extremism; the role of the artist; the need for Irish autonomy

motifs · Music; flight; prayers, secular songs, and Latin phrases

symbols · Green and maroon; Emma; the girl on the beach

foreshadowing · Stephen's heartfelt emotional and aesthetic experiences foreshadow his ultimate acceptance of the life of an artist. Additionally, Joyce often refers to Stephen's vague sense, even very early in his life, that a great destiny awaits him.

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