Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Portrait of the Artist as a Bildungsroman

Write about the relationship between A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Hader/Hirsh's explanation of the bildungsroman genre. Use the prompt found here but everywhere the prompt says Jane Eyre think A Portrait and everywhere it says Charlotte Bronte think James Joyce.

(You might also consider A Portait's relationship to the kunstlerroman genre.

16 comments:

Katina T said...

“A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” by James Joyce, is considered a Bildungsroman, but to be more exact, is a certain type of Bildungsroman: a Kunstlerroman novel. “A Portrait…” is the ideal example of the development of an artist. The protagonist has to overcome obstacles including feministic admiration, family dilemmas, and religious pressures.

The story begins with the main character, Stephen, thinking through his perspective as a child. Stephen was an easy target to be bullied when he was young. He was often puzzled about the different rules of society and felt isolated to his surroundings because of this. For instance, when young Stephen develops an attraction to a Protestant girl and voices to his Catholic family that he intends to marry her, they immediately scold him. But Stephen doesn’t notice the religious and political aspects of this, he only cares about the feelings he has towards this girl. As his family reprimands him, he makes a rhyme out of one of their scoldings, saying, “Pull out his eyes, Apologize...” Even at such a young age, Stephen uses art to comfort himself.

But as Stephen matures, he views women as idols, not as regular people. He marvels at their beauty, but is ashamed of his sexual cravings. Stephen’s first sexual encounter is caused by his failed attempt to bring his family together. Just like in many Kunstlerroman novels, Stephen’s family has to deal with the financial struggles and their dropping class in society. Stephen tries to unite his family by spending large amounts of money on them. As he fails to bring them together, he feels more isolated than ever before. Looking for an escape, Stephen then gives into his cravings when he wanders the streets and sleeps with a prostitute. Because of his Catholic upbringings, Stephen worries about the sins he has committed. He becomes frightened after he hears Father Arnall’s sermon on hell, and decides to confess his sins. This is when Stephen embraces his religion. He feels liberated from all of his past mistakes. Everything around him is beautiful when Stephen recalls, “He sat be the fire…life lay all before him.” But even as he embraces his religion, he realizes that he can never escape from his past sins. And did he confess his sins because he truly wanted to repent, or because he was scared of the punishments of hell? Was his embracement towards religion because he actually wants to dedicate his life to religion, or was it because he felt it was his only hope to escape his shameful past?

Stephen’s lust for the prostitute, his family predicaments, and his worries of hell are all a part of Stephen’s journey. But he finally knows his destination of his journey when he is asked if he would ever consider becoming a priest. At first, Stephen thinks priesthood would be a huge honor, but as he mulls it over, he finds that priesthood would never fit the life he wants to live. Stephen even goes as far as saying, “The shadow, then…sluggish, turfcoloured water.” Stephen is too swept up in the beauty of his surroundings to ever live an “ordered and passionless life.” He has his defining epiphany of leaving his religious views behind and becoming an artist when he sees an attractive girl wading in the water, looking out to the sea. As Stephen declares, “Her image…and on and on!” he found his true “calling” wasn’t priesthood, but art. Art had followed him throughout his life, comforting him and secretly guiding him. As he overcomes the obstacles of his surroundings, he develops into the artist he was meant to become.

Andrew Ryan said...

The novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce closely fits the structure of both the bildungsroman and kunstlerroman by showing the maturation of an individual who struggles with a defined social order. Stephen Dedalus throughout his early childhood struggles to discover his identity and shape his own beliefs and ideas on issues concerning religion, family, and society. Stephen’s social order from an early age restricts him from speaking his mind while also weighing him down with guilt for everyday acts. Stephen is an exceptional character since instead of reconciling with the social order; he intently listens to contrasting views that help him to form his own opinions.
In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Stephen, similar to the typical bildungsroman and kunstlerroman, clashes with the social order, but more specifically he clashes with religion, his family, and society. Religion has a strong influence over Stephen’s childhood; it forbids him from even fantasizing of certain women and fills him with guilt when he does. On page 4 “The Vances lived…out his eyes”, Stephen is criticized for making a conjecture that he was going to marry a Protestant girl, because since Stephen’s family is strongly religious it would be heretical to marry someone who was not Catholic. Stephen at this age does not fully understand how religion and women coincide and instead of accepting it he tries to make sense of the relationship by listening to his family’s opinions and pondering them. Stephen’s religion has suppressed his sexual urges, because to have these urges is a sin. At first, Stephen accepts the fact that he will go to hell for his sinful behavior of sleeping with prostitutes; but as the story progresses the weight of Stephen’s guilt becomes too heavy for him, which leads to his devotion toward God. As Stephen matures and continues his journey toward self-actualization, he realizes that regardless of his dedication to God, he cannot forcibly shape his identity for God due to his natural urges, which are sinful based on his religion. On page 150 “A girl stood…on and on”, Stephen comes to this realization that he cannot fully abide by his religion which is why Stephen feels he cannot become a priest. By knowing that he cannot join the priesthood, Stephen feels that he should pursue his own personal goal of being an artist. Stephen, similar to a typical bildungsroman and kunstlerroman, uses some ideas of his religion to form his own. By living by his own beliefs, Stephen has formed an identity, which as a result has led him to become a leader yet at the same time a heretic in his society. Stephen who used to be uncomfortable in his own skin for example on page 4 “He felt his…weak and watery” and who used to be picked on for being a social pariah at school becomes comfortable speaking his mind without any regard to the recoil that could occur. Stephen’s way of dealing with clashes with his family, specifically his father, have changed during Stephen’s maturation. On pages 80-81 “When you kick…and Victoria. Names”, Stephen feels distant from his father who appears to have had many friends when he was Stephen’s age whereas Stephen has none. Stephen’s father unconsciously makes Stephen feel like an outsider and leaves Stephen feeling as if he has not been living up to his potential. In this passage Stephen who is still self-conscious with himself and his body is left speechless and deals with his father by holding his thoughts inward. On page 153 “A sound shrill…beyond the wall” Stephen learns to express his emotions and opinions outward, which helps relieve the stress that his father invokes on him. Stephen at this time is able to see his father for who he, which is a lazy drunk. It is evident from this passage that Stephen is coming into his own, and feels comfortable with his body and voicing his opinions. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is also similar

Andrew Ryan said...

to a typical bildungsroman according to Marianne Hirsch’s definition because Stephen’s process of maturity “is long, arduous, and gradual, consisting of repeated clashes between the protagonist's needs and desires and the views and judgments enforced by an unbending social order.” Stephen at this point is confident with his choices and even though he knows his family is not proud of his desire to become an artist, Stephen knows what he wants and is going to pursue his goal regardless to any criticism.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man differs from a general bildungsroman and kunstlerroman because Stephen fails to be spurred into his journey toward self-identification. Unlike the novel Jane Eyre whose protagonist is spurred into a journey by being kicked out of her house and sent to a boarding school, Stephen in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is not removed from his family. Even though Stephen is not content with himself and his body, this revelation alone does not jar him enough on his journey toward self-actualization; in fact it slows down his ability to identify who he is. Stephen is not spurred into his journey; instead, by picking up bits of information and ideas, he slowly forms his own identity.

Sarah Al-Edwan said...

A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce is considered a bildungsroman for various reasons. Stephen, the protagonist has to overcome certain obstacles. These include his religious upbringing, family expectations, and female interaction. He must overcome these obstacles in order to find his place within the social order.
Stephen’s problems with his family begin at an early age. He is scolded for wanting to marry a non-Christian girl, even though he is too young to realize why his family considers this wrong. Suzanne Hader notes that in a bildungsroman, the protagonist leaves home. Stephen leaves home to attend school.
Along the way Stephen has a difficult time becoming comfortable with his sexuality as his desires are in contrast with his religious upbringing. He feels ashamed for wanting women, and is constantly running from his sins. His encounter with a prostitute weighs heavily on his mind until he confesses his sins. In so doing, Stephen feels that he has freed himself from eternal damnation.
One way this novel deviates from a traditional bildungsroman is that Stephen is more concerned about freeing himself from hell rather than conforming to Catholicism. This is proven when Stephen is asked to become a priest. He truly starts his transformation into an artist when he denies this offer because he knows he could not live a life without passion. At the end of chapter four, he realizes that he is meant to be an artist when he sees a beautiful woman in the water.
Another way in which this novel is like a bildungsroman is shown through Stephen’s journals at the end of the novel. He reflects on his accomplishments and his journey which is what a protagonist typically does at the end of a bildungsroman. In the end, Stephen is able to find a way to channel his passion into his art and not to let things such as religion and women have a power over him.

Sabrina said...

A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man is clearly defined as a bildungsroman by the guidelines of Harder/Hirsh. Throughout the book Stephen is struggling to find his individuality of whether or not he will follow his own beliefs or what he has been taught to believe. His family is strong believers of their faith and political views. “When they were grown up, he was going to marry Eileen. He hid under the table his mother said: O, Stephen will apologize.” This shows that his family does not accept anything that is outside of their own viewpoints. He is trying to grow, but unfortunately his family has a way of stopping this. “The memory of his childhood suddenly grew dim. He tried to call forth some of its vivid moments but could not. He recalled only names. Dante, Parnell, Clane, Clongowes. A little boy had been taught geography by an old woman who kept two brushed in her wardrobe.” (pg 81) The things that were so important at the time are no longer memorable to him. Stephen ends up going to school and seeing the world differently. Although he has always thought differently than his family, Stephen gets a feel for the world other than the way they tried to contain him. For example, Stephen used to go to church with his uncle, but he realized he did not feel the same as his uncle toward the church and religion. Stephen tries to follow the path of what he is taught but as he is away from his family the urges are harder to resist and he ends up sinning. As for his needs and desires, I would categorize Stephen’s needs as being exactly what he is “supposed to be” and his wants as in being an artist and leading his own life. In the beginning of the novel when he likes Elieen this is a want – while the need is for him to see that this is not okay because the social order he is supposed to be part of does not approve it. Since his values do not fit in the social order that his family follows, he is forced to change since he is young and naive to what they are saying. By the end, Stephen opens his eyes to the life HE wants to live. He leaves the university and goes off to be an artist. When he sees Emma in chapter 5, “She asked me why I never came, she said she heard all sorts of stories about me. This was only to gain time. Asked me, was I writing poems? About whom?” Stephen finally gains an appreciation of himself and what he wants for himself. His values have changed from when he was younger. Now that he has found himself and formed his character, he is not worried about his religious punishment. Now, he is not so petrified about what will happen if he sleeps with a prostitute. On his journey of becoming the artist he is, Stephen goes through many obstacles and has to object a lot of grief he is given by his family, even when he tries to help and bring them together by accepting something that he does not agree with. When Stephen wins money and takes his family out and understands he will never be able to please them and also realizes that being a priest will eliminate all the passion in his life, he finally becomes and has exactly what he has been trying to find.

letsfollowthesun said...

Terri M.

A Portrait of the Young Artist as a Young Man

According to Suzanne Hader a key part of a buildungsroman, is as follows," Main character searches for meaningful existence within society.” As Stephen, in A Portrait grows he matures into a person that feels he does not need to fit within the society. He comes to the conclusion that he can have a meaningful existence and not necessarily be what society calls him to be. In chapter five, Stephen has a long conversation with a friend about his newly confirmed point of view, and it is not harmonious with the social order concerning religion, politics and family. This adds a different spin on a story of this genre. Jane Eyre for instance, does care about what society calls her to be. A Portrait is considered to be a buildungsroman because although Stephen does not care about the social responsibilities, he feels the need to rise against it, and this process is what the novel is about. It is also a Künstlerroman because Stephen becomes an artist. He decides it is best to create instead of being a creation.
In a previous essay I wrote, I mentioned how Stephen has to break away from his family to become the artist that he is. To reach this place of freedom without guilt he has to shed the burden of a traditional Catholic family living in Ireland in the mid 1900’s. This is not easy for him to do. Take for instance Jane Eyre, in Charlotte Bronte’s novel, who already has no family that she is acquainted with. She grows up an orphan, and finds her place in the world. It is not to say she does this without hardship, but she does not have family ties. Jane is able to start her independent journey sooner that Stephen, making her less bitter. One can gather after reading both works, that Stephen’s family holds him back from his transformation. Stephen feels almost like an orphan; he is alone in his beliefs, and this makes the journey towards an adult easier. I think all most teenagers come to point where they have to break away a little bit from their parents. In a portrait Stephen does it very dramatically, but he has to because of the social order in which he is confined.
Stephen struggles with his physical senses throughout the novel. There are many instances in which Stephen feels uncomfortable about human pleasures (not only sexual ones). On page 131 Stephen decides to surround himself with unpleasant scents, tastes, sounds and he will not look at woman for fear of lust. Stephen battles with his surroundings until he decides to embrace them. At the end of chapter four Stephen has a turning point. He sees a girl of whom he is struck by her beauty. Stephen obsesses up to this point with the Virgin Mary; this girl he sees replaces her in his mind. “Her Thighs, fuller and soft-hued as ivory…her slate blue skirts were kilted boldly about her waist”, this is an illusion to Mary because she is usually wearing blue and white robes. As he looks at her he exclaims, “Heavenly God!” this insinuates that he has a new god, and it is human beauty.

Stephen finds a new social order. He becomes an artist. The way the book is written for a greater portion is through the eyes of someone watching Stephen. The last few pages are in diary format. The way the Joyce writes the end of the novel is displaying that Stephen has settled into a new way of life. He is no longer searching for a way to fit into society, he has found his own.

Brianna A said...

In Portrait James Joyce plays with the idea of a bildungsroman to identify with, or more specifically a kunstlerroman. The protagonist of the story, Stephen Dedalus is a prime example of a bildungsroman protagonist. The history behind Stephen’s name already sets him up in a great bildungsroman. He is struggling between two worlds. He is either a martyr or an artificer. He must rebel against society and fly away from the labyrinth or he must stare at his beautiful creation and make sure to fly safely around it, but not too close to the sun. Joyce drifts away from the typical bildungsroman with Stephen however.
Against what Hader said in her outline of a bildungsroman, Stephen is not cast away from his home because of a loss of discontent. When Stephen is away from his home away at school he is there because its just that society sets it up for his culture, at a certain age you go to school. Stephen is not necessarily misplaced in society yet, at least that we know of. Stephen is a devote catholic and Irishman, as he should be. While growing older in and out of school however Stephen starts to drift away from what he has always known and turn away from what society wants from him. Stephen’s needs and desires do clash and Stephen starts to search for what his desires really mean. When Stephen acts in sins of the flesh he realizes that temptation has got the better of him and he must be purified. Reverting back to the church Stephen blocks out all temptation and sees the world for what it is. He sees beauty and amazement, but Joyce has not let Stephen reach Hader’s #4 yet.
When Stephen discovers himself as an artist, he discovers himself as someone who can look at the world and recreate it. This is when the protagonist is at peace with his place in society. Because there are so many different paths to take in Ireland at this time, it is okay if Stephen does not please everyone, including his family, his school, the church, and people like Parnell. Stephen has found his art and that is beautiful in society.

Nick B said...

As soon as the reader sees the title “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” he knows that the novel is a bildungsroman. Childhood is when people grow and develop, so a portrayal or an image of a person as a young man will show identity development. What makes this novel stand out is how James Joyce chooses to deviate from the generic bildungsroman.

Suzanne Hader defines a key point of the bildungsroman as “the story of a single individual’s growth and development within the context of a defined social order.” Though the book is only about Stephen’s development, he has no defined social order. Many different groups are, both directly and indirectly, vying for his loyalty. The Irish Independence movement, the English Crown, and the Catholic Church are all trying to imbue their values into him. His struggle, therefore, varies much more than the average bildungsroman protagonist’s as he bounces back and forth between each extreme. He goes from being unsure of what he wants, to sinning and not caring, to repenting and wanting priesthood, to renouncing his faith, to dropping out of school, all just to find his place in the world. Struggling against obstacles from three different key sources is much harder than rebelling and conforming to one set social order.

Another significant piece of a bildungsroman is the one big event that spurs them to strike out on their own and form their identity. It’s arguable that Stephen experiences this when he sins, but I think that’s too far along in the book. His discontent is really a small but growing dissatisfaction with the world and his place in it. This constant unhappiness is what pushes him to rebel, continually, against the different forces working to shape him.

It would seem that the novel adheres to Hader’s third point – a long, arduous, and gradual battle with many clashes between the protagonist’s needs and desires and the views and judgments of the social order, but here Joyce yet again subtly deviates. When Stephen rebels he doesn’t fight the unbending social order by jumping to the extreme opposite, he just bounces over to another social order being impressed upon him. This gives him the unique experience of comparing and contrasting social orders, but takes away the usual experience of being isolated and alone fighting against the mass of society. His personality, if faced with the usual challenges of a bildungsroman, might have evolved and found its place in the social order, much like what happened in Jane Eyre. Since he was assaulted with so many conflicting social orders, however, he wasn’t able to find his niche and instead resorted to isolation and withdrawal from any social order.

Due to these subtle twists on the bildungsroman theme this novel ends not with Stephen comfortably absorbed into the social order, but rather with him occasionally writing journal entries as a non-religious, un-political, and unschooled artist living on the outskirts of society.

Marisa D. said...

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is considered both a bildungsroman and a kunstlerroman because like a traditional bildungsroman it is the story of an individual’s growth but it also follows the rules for a traditional kunstlerroman, the story of an individual’s growth as an artist. Within the defined social order in Ireland during this time the protagonist struggles to find where he fits in. Stephen knows that he has to find the place where he belongs whether it is within the defined social order or outside of the social order. Stephens journey to discover his purpose in life is met with obstacles that make him question his own humanity. Stephen thinks he finds his niche in the form of the priesthood but realizes it is not what he wants. The way that Joyce deviates from the traditional bildungsroman/kunstlerroman is that in the society that Stephen is a part of , religion plays a huge part and Stephen realizes that he doesn’t want to be in that part of society. He can’t be a part of the religion niche because he has committed sins that are unforgivable according to his thought process. As an artist Stephen is able to create a world where his mistakes don’t matter.
Stephen knows he needs to find a stable place in the world, a place that won’t change like the wind. His father moves from job to job and they move from place to place. This adheres to the second rule of a bildungsroman in which the hero is spurred on their journey by some form of discontent at an early stage from the home or family setting. Stephen fueled by the failures of his father decided at a young age that he didn’t want the life his father had made for himself and his family.
Stephen’s urges don’t always coincide with the strict religious beliefs of the social order of the time period. Catholicism is very strict when it comes to sins of the flesh and Stephen is constantly testing the churches feelings about it. At one point in the story he feels that he belongs within the church as a pastor, but during a realization that everything he does is a sin in the eyes of the church he concludes that this is not the life he wants to lead. The society is always judging him for the actions he has. In Portrait Joyce uses this guideline during the entire book.
At the end of the book Stephen discovers his place in the world as a poet. He goes through mishap after mishap and in the end finds himself as the creator rather as the conformer. Rather than conform to societies rules he creates his own. As an artist he is in his own order, an order that doesn’t place its rules on him, it allows him to create and deviate from what is normal.

Meredith S said...

James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man fits some of the accepted characteristics of a bildungsroman, but stays from others. It most noticeably strays from the second characteristic on the list, which states that the character must be uprooted from their home/family in order to begin their journey. Stephen’s family is not particularly relevant to his identity formation in the first place. The most prominent character from Stephen’s family is his father, whom Stephen regards with frustration and shame. Since Stephen is so discontented with his family to begin with, he does not need to be physically separate from them to become his own person. Further evidence of this is the fact that Stephen has siblings, but does not mention them except to briefly acknowledge that they exist. His feelings towards his family are generally indifferent and not influential to his growth.
A Portrait also disagrees with the first part of the last definition of a bildungsroman. Stephen does the opposite of what is stated here; he rejects the values of society instead of adopting them. Stephen’s youth is largely concerned with trying to fit in with Catholicism, like the rest of his society, and accept the idea of God. In the last chapter, though, he reveals that he has no faith in religion and has rejected the idea of god. He associates religion with his youth; it is simply a part of his past that did not end up being incorporated into who he is as an artist. When Crangly asks him if he was happier when he believed in god, Stephen replies, “Often happy, and often unhappy. I was someone else then.” His struggle with religion was merely a part of his growth process. The second part of the last definition is true for Stephen, however. The book ends with journal entries by Stephen, which serves as a type of reflection on where Stephen stands in society from his own perspective.
The first and third characteristics of a bildungsroman listed fit Stephen’s process of identity formation well. One exception is the statement that the character’s growth is “a search for a meaningful existence within society.” Stephen’s growth is more of a meaningful existence in general, regardless of his place within society. He is able to fulfill this search by developing and using his artistic mind. Although he is somewhat of an outsider to society, his existence is made meaningful by his art.

nFrye said...

N. Frye

"A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" as a bildungsroman/kuntslerroman

"A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" is a novel of development for the protagonist, Stephen Dedalus. The book tracks Stephen's life from an early age and depicts his maturing process, the process being an essential part of any bildungsroman or kunstlerroman. The novel does not fit precisely into Hader's definition of a bildungsroman, however. It defies an important aspect: the protagonist is never reconciled to the social order as he knows it. However, if viewed as a kuntslerroman, that is, a novel of development of an artist, "A Portrait..." fits the bill perfectly.

Stephen never attains unity with the social order of his time, thus preventing "A Portrait..." from being a true bildungsroman. As a son of a poorer Irishman, Stephen is expected to have followed through on becoming a priest or at least to commit himself to finding another occupation. Stephen does not fit into the mold of young men of his time. He sees past the ideas of the Roman Catholic Church and creates his own values and definitions of things in life.

As a kuntslerroman, "A Portrait..." is ideally categorized. The novel's protagonist does not find a place in the social order of the time and branches out of society in general, something that artists are especially known for. Throughout the novel, it is possible to see a development of the character's sense of perception. Stephen begins the novel viewing patterns, rhymes, and colors in childlike ways. ("Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow..." pp 3) As the novel progresses, his perceptions of all of these things is greatly altered due to the maturing process that Stephen faces. ("The ivy whines upon the wall, ..." pp 157) Even in important aspects of Stephen's time period such as religion, he is unable to conform or to find a place. Stephen does not believe in religion by the end of the novel. He develops past the concept of pleasing everybody around him by going through the motions of organized religion. He develops more artistic ways in which to view spirituality and the world around him. His new religion and dedication becomes beauty.

"A Portrait..." is most certainly a novel of formation. While not following completely Hader's definition of a bildungsroman, the novel fits very well into the genre of kuntslerroman. The story tracks Stephen's development as an artist, beginning with basic perceptions of colors and rhythms and progresses to later observations of beauty and pattern. Non-conformist thought also identifies Stephen as an artist, and it is possible to see the development of this aspect of the protagonist over the course of the novel. Stephen Dedalus's process of maturity is captured and displayed by James Joyce in "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man."

Megan Keegan said...

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man follows a boy’s development through life while incorporating religion and art into his growth. The book is a bildungsroman, a “novel of formation.” Taking a closer look, it is apparent that this novel, more specifically, is a kunstlerroman (a bildungsroman showing an artist’s growth). Throughout Portrait Stephen is struggling with trying to define himself as an individual within the social order, but he always knows that he is different. On page 56 Stephen says “the noise of children at play annoyed him and their silly voices made him feel, even more keenly than he had felt as Clogowes, that he was different from others.” Even when he is surrounded by happy children, Stephen isn’t satisfied. Things are difficult in Stephen’s household because of a big religious influence. His family is very Catholic and it makes things hard for Stephen. He feels as though nothing he does is good enough for them. This type of disconnect is typical in a bildungsroman. When Stephen wins prize money, he takes his family out to an expensive dinner. Not only does his family not seem thankful after the meal, but Stephen feels more isolated from them than ever. He is disconnected from them emotionally. Stephen never feels close to his father and struggles with how to be the artist he knows he is in front of him. “…mix with gentleman. When I was a young fellow I tell you I enjoyed myself. I mixed with fine decent fellows. Everyone of us could do something. One fellow had a good voice, another fellow was a good actor, another could sing a good comic song, another was a good oarsman or a good racket player, another could tell a good story and so on.” Stephen’s dad is telling him who he surrounded himself with when he was growing up. Whether he realizes it or not, he described people that are all artists. This is a change in pace from the religious views that he had so strongly put on Stephen before. From this information, he thinks that being an artist might be acceptable. Stephen’s growth is gradual and arduous, and he sins along the way. There is an inner struggle within him that is fighting between repenting and accepting what he has done. After Stephen sleeps with a prostitute, he attends a sermon that talks about the depths of hell. The sermon leads him to confess his sins so he can be at peace with himself. This confession helps him in his development as a person. Toward the end of the book, he is faced with an oppourtinity to become a priest; he realizes that all along that is exactly what he didn’t want to be. All of his actions up until that point in his life pointed to the fact that he is an artist. His sins and triumphs lead him to a place in his life where he felt comfortable accepting that he was an artist all along. It becomes evident that priesthood is fairly uniform in its beliefs, whereas art is formed by an individual’s values. That individuality is what Stephen experienced all along, but he never had anywhere to channel it. He always knew he was different, but it wasn’t until he recognized himself as an artist that he learned to love himself for what he is.

Molly A said...

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is very much a bildungsroman in the general definition: a novel of self-development. It is even more so a kunstlerroman in its constant focus on developing maturity. However, Joyce also manages to deviate greatly from several important traits, listed in Hader/Hirsh's explanation of what a bildungsroman means.
Both Stephen, from A Portrait and Jane, from Jane Eyre, deviate from the typical characteristics of a bildungsroman in similar ways. Social order is something that neither character necessarily works towards conforming to. For Jane, it was a lack of desire to fit in; For Stephen, it’s a controversy between different elements of society: politics, religion, beliefs, etc. For Stephen, there are so many options, so many different and conflicting parts of society to conform to, that he finds himself unaware and lost. For him, similarly to Jane, he must find more of a self-happiness, one that’s standards is set by himself, rather than by the expectations of a social order. This particular inability to conform, ironically, can be explained through a way that A Portrait stays true to a bildungsroman trait: a form of loss or discontent. As a child, Stephen often feels detached, yet yearning for the presence of his family, most commonly his mother. To be a child that is dependant on their family, while very rarely having them present in your life, is mildly comparable to the life of an orphan. Through this loss, he becomes detached and feels like an outcast, in almost every surrounding he’s placed in.
There is also the matter of a “gradual development”. Stephen’s development very much sticks to the standards of Hader/Hirsh’s explanation, in the fact that he is torn between what he desires and what he needs. However, this being said, his process is anything but gradual. The stages that he goes through, sinning and subsequently doing anything possible to avoid sin, properly displays the inconsistency and extreme highs and lows of his development. There is no uprising slope in which he works towards being a mature individual. He reaches rock bottom then recovers, only to face more setbacks that he must overcome.
Finally, there is the issue of ultimately fitting into some form of social order. Stephen, again like to Jane, develops into a person who is satisfied with living by their own set of rules. Rather than adjust who he is or develop to have the same beliefs and values as a society, he creates his own and abides by them. At times, during his development, he is too lenient with his values and at others he is too strict. It is only in the end that he achieves a level of ultimate satisfaction and happiness within himself.

amycarpenter57 said...

“A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” is a bildungsroman in the traditional sense because it shows the maturing and growth of the main character Stephan Dedalus. However, it’s not just Stephan that grows in the story, the story itself grows as Stephan does. By this I mean the prose of the book improves dramatically in clarity and language as Stephan grows up. This makes sense, as the book is literally stream of consciousness. Unlike “Jane Eyre”, where we are told at the get go that the events have already happened and the Jane is retelling them for us, “Portrait” gives you the sense that what is happening to Stephan, is just happening so we get to experience Stephan’s unaltered feelings regarding the events. Our view into Stephan’s world improves as Stephan himself understands more, i.e. grows and matures. At the very beginning of the book, sentence structure is abysmal and the vocabulary is extremely limited. It deals mostly with what Stephan knows through his primary sentences. But slowly, like Stephan, the book’s sentences become more complex, the vocabulary expands and it feels like it is being written by a grade-school child. Then later, it feels like it’s written by a young teenager and so on and so forth up to the end of the book. Joyce seems to like to play with the idea of a bildungsroman, making the actually physical words on the page get better and better as his main character goes through his own, separate bildungsroman, making “Portrait” a double bildungsroman if anything. Whether this is intentional or not is debatable, “Portrait” is supposed to be a quasi biography so the improving quality of the text could be a technique to show Joyce’s ideas of “memories”. Still, it’s an interesting twist on the traditional bildungsroman for the main character to not even need to really grow at all in their story since the book itself is growing, evolving and maturing.

Francesco P said...

When considering A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, it’s evident that an innate correlation exists between the isolation of an individual, and the development of an artist, the Kunstlerroman. Inherent within the entity of the artist is the expression of his emotional state of being and perception, rather than strictly rational expression.

The distinction that A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a Kunstlerroman, rather than merely a Bildungsroman, exudes the quintessence of what Stephen, or rather what Joyce himself represents. While in a Bildungsroman an individual must learn to adapt within society while complying with their own principles, a Kunstlerroman alludes to be more of identifying one’s own perspective and expressing it through a means which is suitable for themselves, in Stephen’s case, this is the delicate, and expressive essence which language holds, and also how it can reveal truths that exist for the individual and for the world. Stephen seems to have done a fantastic example of this; scripting a book with a unique use of language, to impress a stream of consciousness that exemplifies the perspective he as an artist holds. Or, wait that was Joyce.


If, as stated by Hader, the social order’s ideals were to be manifested into an artist, such as Stephen, they would lose their genuine perspective, which is what detaches them from the general social order. They reject being subject to the notions of religion, nationality and other of societies sources of hindering the individual, and rather adhere to what is uniquely significant to them. Although Stephen was so deeply absorbed with the notion of sinning and damnation for some time in his childhood, it was merely the result of his discordance with the church’s stance on existence. For an artist lives to create and breath life from their consciousness and soul onto the canvas of reality, and therefore cannot “serve” to a higher power, be it God, or the entirety of civilization’s expectation from the individual, therefore, the artist “falls” in their eyes.


“He was destined to learn his own wisdom apart from others or to learn the wisdom of others himself wandering among the snares of the world. (141)” This rejection of the priesthood was a necessary element, which makes him recognize that his own desires or rather his destiny for himself, is one that must be separate from the order that has manifested itself to him thus far. As Stephen becomes increasingly more aware of his own aspirations, “To discover a mode of life or of art whereby your spirit could express itself in unfettered freedom (219)”, we become more conscious of the intrinsic isolation that this life demands. Yet, the isolation, whether it be from his fellow peers, his family, his fidelity to sinlessness, from women, or later from others whom he feels superior towards, seems to be a crucial element to his development as an artist, but not necessarily as his lifelong perpetuation as an artist. For, although we can label it as ‘isolation’, it can rather be the harmonizing between the realized Stephen as the artist, and a reality, which is derived from the beauty of existence and expressed within Stephen’s love for language.

B Shay said...

There are many way’s to show that “a portrait” confines to the rules of a Bildungsroman novel, rising and falling, Stephens thought towards religion and politics, but the one that really sticks out for me is his attitude towards woman. His definition of a woman clearly changes throughout the book, from loving mother, to dishonorable sin. What’s so Bildungsroman like of all this though is Stephens final acceptance of women. The transformation in his head, as I saw, was from Love to Lust to Sin to Art to Human.
Baby Stephens initial respect towards women would have to of been based on his mother, sure she scolded him when he did bad things, but I feel that Stephen did indeed love his mother like any kid would. His mother still pushed him to go to school and to conform to what society wanted to him be, which adds conflict to Stephen’s defiant behavior. This affection towards woman stay’s with him until it start’s getting weighed down by his sexual desires, and religious fundamentals. He is overcome with lust and start’s visiting prostitutes, this then initiates a part in his life where religion is the center. He believes that staying with these woman is a real sin and that the only way is to confess and give himself to God. So just like that Stephens definition of woman goes from Love to Lust to Sin. Stephen is so turned off by this, and that he feel’s that he has sinned so badly, that he even has to avert his eye’s from any women that he might pass. He can’t even show emotion towards the girl he feels affection for.
Every Bildungsroman has a person trying to mature within a specific society. If you wanted, you could say that the protagonist matured into actually believing that women are sin, but that is not how the story ends. From the start Stephen has always deflected from what ever his society has put in front of him. You can blame this on his Artistic tendencies because in reality, that’s really what an Artist is, someone who defies society. So knowing this, Stephen of course turns away from religion to focus more on himself and what he feels is right. Finally one day he comes across a beautiful girl laying down, this is the spark that finally lets him free. He finally let’s his emotion’s free looking on the girl as a piece of art, not as a sin, but as a human being. This is the final stage of Stephens maturing, he is not burdened by all this femininity that is keeping him down. His mother is out of the picture, the “Virgin Mary” of the church is done with, and his Lust for prostitutes is taken care of. Stephen is free of all restraints, and is even able to have a perfectly normal conversation with the girl he likes which he once had to avert from.