The Esthetic Theory and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

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The Esthetic Theory and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Stephen Dedalus defines beauty and the artist's comprehension of his/her own art. Stephen uses his esthetic theory with theories borrowed from St. Thomas Aquinas and Plato. The discourse can be broken down into three main sections: 1) A definitions of beauty and art. 2) The apprehension and qualifications of beauty. 3) The artist's view of his/her own work. I will explain how the first two sections of his esthetic theory relate to Stephen. Furthermore, I will argue that in the last section, Joyce is speaking of Stephen Dedalus and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man as his art. First, Stephen states the theory that…show more content…
In that point of Stephen's life, he realized that his desires, and anyone's desires, are only animal reflexes: "We are all animals. I also am an animal." (Pg. 149). Given that beauty is only intelligible and not physical, "It [beauty] awakens, or ought to awaken, or induces, or ought to induce, an esthetic stasis, an ideal pity or an ideal terror, a stasis called forth." (Pg. 150). Stephen then gives a definition of art, "Art - is the human disposition of sensible or intelligible matter for an esthetic end." (Pg. 150). That art is formed from the "Gross Earth," meaning the artist's experiences. Art does not start as something beautiful, but from experiences that are rough and raw. What transforms these experiences into art is how one can recreate the esthetic emotions felt by the artist. An example of this is when Stephen sees the "Bird Girl" when wandering on the shore of the Irish Sea. He experiences such enlightenment of only the soul and mind: "Her eyes had called him and his soul had leaped at the call. To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life. A wild angel had appeared to him, the angel of mortal youth and beauty, an envoy from the fair courts of life, to throw open before him in an instant of ecstasy the gates of all the ways of error and glory." (Pg. 123). This epiphany, according to the esthetic theory, would be considered pure art because Stephen experienced it esthetically. The next stage of this discourse,
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