Font Size: a A A

A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man: Struggles And Epiphanies Under The Stream Of Consciousness

Posted on:2003-11-21Degree:MasterType:Thesis
Country:ChinaCandidate:X M ChenFull Text:PDF
GTID:2155360062986405Subject:English Language and Literature
Abstract/Summary:PDF Full Text Request
As the first important novel of James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man renders a panoramic picture of an adolescent's world, in which Joyce delicately traces Stephen Dedalus' odyssey from the physically and spiritually embittered childhood through the intellectually and artistically full-fledged adulthood to his eventual, self-imposed exile. Joyce's creative use of the stream-of-consciousness techniques adds significance to the seemingly insignificant affairs and allocates order and prominence to the events and characters. This thesis sets out to examine how these techniques, including the interior monologue, free association, montage and fantasy, which have evolved from psychoanalysis and cinematography, weave into the plots of the novel through the descriptions of Stephen's struggles and epiphanies. Taking the binary opposition between struggles and epiphanies in plot as the pivotal thread, this paper also endeavours to reason out Stephen's sudden spiritual revelation and eventual escape or transcendence.The thesis approaches Stephen's struggles from two perspectives: physical and spiritual. In depicting his physical struggles, i.e. struggles against his blindness, school bullies and family poverty, Joyce employs the techniques of montage and free association, because of their effectiveness in the factual presentation of juxtaposed and dissociated life episodes. As for the portrayal of Stephen's spiritual struggles, i.e. struggles for freedom, struggles against emotional predicament and religious afflictions, Joyce utilises mainly the techniques of fantasy and interior monologue, since they are conducive to the illustration of Stephen's endopsychic conflicts.The epiphany, originally a religious term, is a sudden revelation or manifestation that a person experiences usually at a moment of crisis. In presenting Stephen's spiritual revelation, Joyce adopts two epiphanic modes. One is the epiphany that reveals the truth, the intrinsic essence of a person or of something through the "vulgarity of speech or of gesture." Another is the epiphany that prompts a heightened spiritual enchantment of the observer's mind, which Joyce calls the "memorable phase of the mind itself." For Stephen, he alternates betweenallegiances to the visionary and to the material, between internal fantasy and external reality. Accordingly, Joyce adroitly adapts his style to these alternations. The former mode can be clearly seen in Joyce's selection and ordering of the epiphanies, which are not necessarily chronological and sometimes even dissociated like individual sentences and paragraphs. These epiphanies, i.e. epiphanies of truth, usually arranged by montage and free association, are mainly realised from Stephen's sudden understanding of his own archetypal images. Through the comparative studies between Prometheus the fire pilferer and Stephen the knowledge seeker, Lucifer the wicked Satan and Stephen's non serviam policy, Icarus the overwrought son and Stephen the alienated son, the paper reveals how Stephen comes to understand the essence of his life and his end to serve. The second epiphanic mode can be found in Joyce's bulky descriptions of Stephen's fantasies and interior monologues, which are mainly contained in his aesthetic theories and the villanelle, the only poem that Stephen composes in the novel.The struggles and epiphanies, together with other binary oppositions in the novel, form the substance or content of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, while the stream-of-consciousness approaches constitute the form or vesture that the content takes on or clothes in. Although the stream-of-consciousness techniques are not the only writing skills embodied in the novel, Joyce's artful employment of them help to forge the haphazard, fragmentary moments of thoughts into consciously meaningful, life-like episodes that can be substantially interpreted. By the dexterous arrangements of the form and content, Joyce succeeds in paralleling the shock of reality in Stephen's life with a similar shock for the reade...
Keywords/Search Tags:Stream of consciousness, epiphany, archetype, montage, free association, interior monologue, fantasy
PDF Full Text Request
Related items