Stephen Dedalus in James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

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Stephen Dedalus in James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

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

The spirit of Ireland is embodied in young Stephen Dedalus, the central character of James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Like the Dedalus of Greek myth, Stephen must grow wings so that he may fly above the tribulations of his life. As he matures, Dedalus begins to understand his position in life, and decides to rise above the turbulent Ireland of the early 1900s in a rebellion against society, a struggle against his beliefs and a struggle against his
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Any opinion Stephen voiced was usually met with mixed feelings, reflective of the divided political and religious factions. Stephen felt the need to rebel: to break into a new setting-one in which he could be free to express all his thoughts.

The IRB was formed in 1858 as a group of Irish intellectuals who wanted to see an Ireland independent of British rule. The IRB put their support behind Charles Stewart Parnell, a protestant landowner with very radical nationalist ideals. Parnell is a topic of discussion during a political debate Stephen's family has over Christmas dinner, and is first mentioned while Stephen is at Clongowes Wood School, reminiscing about his Aunt, or Dante as he calls her - a holdover from when he was a baby and could not properly pronounce 'Auntie'. Stephen remembers Dante admonishing Parnell; this is Stephen's first introduction to politics.

As Stephen recalls,

Dante had two brushes in her press. The brush with the maroon velvet back was for Michael Davitt and the brush with the green velvet back was for Parnell. (20)

One day Dante ripped the back off the brush that represented Parnell and denounced Parnell as a bad man. '[Stephen] wondered if they were arguing at home about that.' And to the young Stephen 'That
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