Imagery Pattern of Clouds in the Portrait of an Artist by James Joyce

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The Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce is widely recognized by New Critics as one of the greatest novels of its age for its aesthetic artistry. In the Portrait, a powerful autobiographical novel of bildungsroman, commonly known as a coming-of-age story, that follows the life of Irish protagonist Stephen Dedalus, Joyce portraits his momentous transition to adulthood as a passage of psychological struggle towards his ultimate philosophical awakening and his spiritual rebirth as an artist. Most visibly in Chapter Four of the novel, Stephen Dedalus, after the denial of his own priesthood, goes on to seek his artistic personality through his secluded journey amongst a myriad of natural elements. Dramatizing the Stephen’s…show more content…
He heard a confused music within him as of memories and names which he was almost conscious of but could not capture even for an instant; then the music seemed to recede, to recede, to recede, and from each receding trail of nebulous music there fell always one longdrawn calling note, piercing like a star the dusk of silence. Again! Again! Again! A voice from beyond the world was calling. (107)
Here, Stephen instantly displays a strong intimacy with the wafting clouds as they draw his attention away from the pressing commandments posed by the Christian decree. Personifying the clouds as the wanderers with spirits as his companions, Stephen takes refuge amongst the aimless cloud to drift across the boundless sky. Dappled and seaborne, Stephen admits himself not so purified and free of desires as devoted Christian brothers, as well as his earthly origin that he is inevitably composed of. Consequently, Stephen finds imagination to be his key towards his own enlightenment; just like the capricious clouds, Stephen follows his imaginations and brings the perpetual beauty “out of the sluggish matter of the earth” to its sublimity across the clear sky (108). Joyce also portraits clouds as the mild framers of the sunlight, an indirect contrast with the conventional square-framed windows at the church that Stephen

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