The Role of Women in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Essay

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James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man presents an account of the formative years of aspiring author Stephen Dedalus. "The very title of the novel suggests that Joyce's focus throughout will be those aspects of the young man's life that are key to his artistic development" (Drew 276). Each event in Stephen's life -- from the opening story of the moocow to his experiences with religion and the university -- contributes to his growth as an artist. Central to the experiences of Stephen's life are, of course, the people with whom he interacts, and of primary importance among these people are women, who, as his story progresses, prove to be a driving force behind Stephen's art. As A Portrait of the Artist progresses, the…show more content…
This physical understanding of the exterior world may be the impetus for Stephen's subsequent construction of a hierarchical list that defines his place within the universe. Both Dante and Stephen's own mother associate themselves with punishment when they assert that he "will apologise" or "the eagles will come and pull out his eyes" (Joyce 246). This incident results in Stephen's composition of a poem based on "apologise" and "eyes," one of his first artistic endeavors. Dante and Mrs. Dedalus, having planted these words in Stephen's mind, are the first females to inspire him to create. Young Stephen's first romantic interest in the opposite sex comes in the form of his playmate, Eileen, whom he plans to marry when they are older. This assertion, although childishly innocent, is nonetheless the first suggestion that sexual and romantic relationships with women will be important to Stephen as he matures. Indeed, the appearance of punishment, romance, and inspiration at such an early point in the novel creates a sense of the interconnected effect they will have on Stephen and his art. The association of women with each of these essential elements establishes yet another link between them, and emphasizes the central role women will play in Stephen's life. Throughout his childhood, women continue to contribute to Stephen's development as an artist, though he seems unaware
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