full title A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
author James Joyce
type of work Novel
genre Bildungsroman, autobiographical novel
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.
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.
Take a Study Break
Every Shakespeare Play Summed Up in a Quote from The Office
Every Marvel Movie Summed Up in a Single Sentence
Macbeth As Told in a Series of Texts
QUIZ: Is This a Great Gatsby Quote or a Lorde Lyric?
QUIZ: Which Coming-of-Age Trope Will You Experience This Summer?
QUIZ: Are You a Hero, a Villain, or an Anti-Hero?
Pick 10 Books and We'll Guess Whether You're an Introvert or an Extrovert