Rejection and Isolation in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

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As James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man unfolds, the central theme of isolation and rejection becomes evident. From birth to adolescence, the protagonist of the story, Stephen Dedalus, responds to his experiences throughout life with actions of rejection and isolation. He rebels against his environment and isolates himself in schoolwork, family, religion and his art, successively. James Joyce uses Stephen Dedalus' responses of isolation and rejection to illustrate the journey that the artist must take to achieve adulthood.

Even as a young boy, Stephen experienced rejection and isolation at school. On the playground Stephen "felt his body [too] small and weak amid the [other] players" (Joyce 8). His
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When the conformists damn Lord Byron as a heretic Stephen responds by affirming Byron's superiority over Tennyson. The shocked and enraged boys attack Stephen, pinning him against the barbed wire fence:

-Admit that Byron was no good
-No. No.

At last after a fury of plunges he wrenched himself free. His tormentors set off towards Jones's Road, laughing and jeering at him, while he, torn and flushed and panting, stumbled after them blinded with tears, clenching his fists madly and sobbing (Joyce 82).

At college, a similar incident supports this idea of isolation caused by rebellion and rejection of authority. When Stephen refuses to sign a petition to ask for world peace, he suffers criticism from his friends. Amidst the criticism, however, Stephen dissociates himself from his schoolmates and his environment by saying, " When the soul of a man is born in this country there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets" (Joyce 203). Although Stephen isolates himself by rejecting authority and rebelling against conformity, he eventually breaks free from their restrictions to find personal freedom essential for the artist to reach maturity.

During his adolescent years, Stephen is forced to stay at home due to his father's financial problems causing him to reject his schoolmates and
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