Friday, November 20, 2009

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (chapter 5)

Write a substantial post (300+ words) explaining how a passage in chapter 5 is significant to the work as a whole. (Use close reading techniques. In other words explain the significance of techniques like motif, imagery, allusion, style, tone, etc. in the passage.)


nFrye said...

N. Frye
“And for ages…which he had come?” pp. 199-200
Throughout the novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce uses the motif of birds as well as allusions to the Daedalus/Icharus story and religion to tell Stephen Daedalus’s story. In this passage, Stephen ponders over his choice to leave the way of becoming a priest and become an artist instead. He grows afraid of his decision because he fears a fall.

Birds and the Daedalus story follow Stephen. It is possible to see rises and falls in his life, just as birds and Daedalus rise and fall. In this passage, Stephen realizes the danger in taking flight, that is, in breaking away from becoming a priest and following his own path as an artist. “A sense of fear of the unknown moved in the heart...a fear of symbols and portents, of the hawklike man whose name he bore soaring out of his captivity…” As do many who set out on their own paths, to follow what they believe is right, Stephen expresses doubt in himself.

Later in the passage, Stephen mentions Thoth, the Egyptian scribe god, who has the head of a bird. Stephen relates himself to this character, a scribe with a bird head, a writer. He chides himself for remembering the name of the god only because of its relation to an Irish oath. And yet the image suits the young man so well. As the image of birds, rising and falling follows Stephen, so does the relation to his Irish heritage, of which religion itself is such a large part.

Stephen chides himself for thinking of anything that is not practical because he is unsure of his choice. He relates the way in which he remembers Thoth’s name, a way that he finds “folly”, to the decision that he is making about his life. He is unsure whether or not it is worth giving up a life that he has already begun in order to pursue a new path.

Katina T said...

Pg. 224-225 “15 April. Met her today…and ever in good stead.”

I chose a passage in which Joyce makes the decision to switch the narrative of the novel into Stephen’s journal entries. In Stephen’s search for finding himself, he has quoted several artists, talking about their poetry and what it means, but never using his own voice. When Joyce switches into these journal entries, we finally get a glimpse of how Stephen is starting to find himself. Joyce transitions to this narrative in order to symbolically represent how Stephen has grown. Although overall, most of his journal entries are short and choppy, Joyce did this on purpose to show the readers exactly what Stephen was thinking.

The journal entries I selected represent how Stephen’s overall outlook has developed over his journey. Women, for example, have always had some sort of power over Stephen. In past interactions with females, the women control Stephen’s actions. Emma was a main representation of how Stephen worshipped femininity. He never really knew Emma, but loved her regardless. But at the end of the novel, when he finally talks to Emma, she is just an ordinary person. Stephen finally realizes that women are human beings too. They are not the perfect creatures that he once thought they were, but are like everyone else. Whether it was the prostitute who caused him partake in sinful acts or his mother who tried to push him towards religion; they no longer had an effect on him. These women, who have controlled his thought process for so long, no longer call the shots. He has gained his sense of self through developing as an artist. He makes his own decisions. He truly embraces his liberty of these ties when he says, “Welcome, Oh life!...conscience of my race.” Stephen is ready to explore the life he wants to live, as an artist.

Andrew Ryan said...

Pg. 198-200 “What birds were…of the national theatre”
Within the novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce, Joyce uses the motif of birds and flying to help explain Stephens’ development into an artist. Joyce uses the Daedalus/ Icharus story, which poses as a reference to help explain Stephens’ dilemma on whether he should pursue a career in the priesthood or follow his dream of becoming an artist. Stephen feels that to be a priest means certain death. In this passage Stephen is unsure on whether or not he should try to follow his own path to become an artist because he worries that like in the Daedalus/ Icharus story that he will fail to fly like a bird and fall.
In order for Stephen to take flight and accomplish his goal of becoming an artist he needs to be light yet strong. Stephen, by going to confession and unburdening his sins has made himself light enough to fly but still lacks the confidence that it takes. After listening to Stephens’ conversations with his colleagues, it is clear that he has the strength it takes to break away from his friends and family but he unfortunately lacks the confidence in himself to do it. He is hoping that the birds will give him a sign and tell him what to do. Stephen is familiar with several philosophers and scientists and their beliefs but Stephen is unable to form an opinion on this matter. Stephen unbeknownst to him is already in flight because like birds who he describes as “bodies flying clearly against the sky” he himself is already going against the grain by forming his own ideas, which contrast with most others.
Stephen’s weariness of departure is based primarily on his belief that by leaving his friends and family will render him unhappy and alone. He is unaware that no matter where he goes, he will continue to hold onto his memories of the past. For instance, when recalling on the god of writers, Thoth; Stephen only remembered the name of this god because of an Irish oath he had learned as a child. Despite Stephens’ desire to become an artist, he is troubled by the fact that once he goes he will be unable to return to his family.

Anonymous said...

Terri M.

Pages 213 and 214

-Have you never loved anyone? Cranly asked.
-Do you mean women?
-I am not speaking of that…
He ceased and, as Stephen did not reply, remained silent.

In this passage Stephen is confronted about his mother. While reading this I had flashbacks to the major scene in chapter one where Stephen’s schoolmates ask him if he kisses his mother, and every answer he gives them they use against him.
This part of the book is important because it reveals that Stephen has grown. Back in chapter one when the boys are giving him a hard time it flusters him. He questions which answer he should give, and really dwells upon it. Stephen does not feel close to his mother, and this is revealed through this conversation with Cranly. Not only is he not close to his mother, he is not affected by the lack of relationship. This is breaking the social order, and that is what Cranly is trying to point out. He is trying to show Stephen that he is breaking the norm and maybe he should be worried about it. It is interesting how Joyce does not include Stephen’s family in a positive light in Stephen’s view as time progresses. This is done to give the “orphan” affect. That is, the separation from Stephen and everyone else bigger and more exemplified. Stephen cannot be close to his family because that is how he grows up, and discovers that he can be his own priest.

In addition to not having a close relationship to his parents, Stephen mentions in this passage that he has nine or ten siblings. Amy said in class that she finds it strange that he barely mentions his siblings, and then someone replied that it had to be that way because he could not depend or be influenced by anyone because then it would not be a novel of self-discovery. I completely agree with this, it is a strange concept however because my sister is such a big part of whom I am. I think the time period that Stephen was growing up in made it more difficult to reach the self-discovery that he did. I feel that I can be close to my family, but have the freedom to branch out. In conclusion, Stephen cannot be close to his family because of the many circumstances (religion, time period, place) that make it excruciatingly difficult to break away and still hold family ties. This passage uses flashback mechanisms to remind the reader of how Stephen has always had a difficult time relating to his mother. He ends up not answering Cranly showing even more that he does not need to talk about because he knows how he feels. In addition this passage shows Stephen’s growth because he does not question himself any more.

Brianna A said...

Pg. 179-180 “Try to be…mystic after.”

In this passage Stephen is talking to some other boys about religion and Ireland. Davin tells Stephen that he is an Irishman but that his pride is too powerful. Stephen tells Davin that he does not want to be one of them because those giving up their life, affections, and youth are sold to the enemy. Stephen goes on to explain how the soul is born slowly and has a dark birth rather than the body which is a quicker and lighter birth. He says that once a soul is born in this country nets are flung to keep it down but that Stephen will try to fly by those nets.
This passage illuminates the major themes throughout the novel. We start with Stephen from the birth of his body, quick and simple. We see right away how the country and his religion have affected him. At that Christmas dinner we see Stephen trying to grasp on to what Mr. Casey argues about Parnell and also tries to relate and concur with what Dante says about religion. Here Stephen is not as passionate about these understandings but more absorbent. Later on in Stephen’s journey we see his soul begin to be born. Joyce tells us that the soul’s birth is dark and mysterious by seedily showing us Stephen’s temptations. Stephen acts in sins of the flesh and his mind dreams of many women and he drifts away from school and the church. Here we see the net that Stephen refers to hold back his soul from flight. Stephen feels he must be purified and that leads him into the offer of priesthood. Stephen sees through his pure eyes at the world and comments on how beautiful and peaceful it is. The scene after Stephen is with the Virgin Mary and then sees the girl in the water is Stephen’s epiphany. It’s the kind of epiphany as we use it today, that he realizes this great huge moment rather than he shows his gift to the world, not yet. As Stephen continues to University he again explores outside of his pure orb. Stephen starts to trail away from the church and when talking to his friends, teachers, and family he starts to see that he is unlike them all. The dean shows Stephen that he will always go back to Irish unlike the dean who did not understand a certain word Stephen said. Stephen’s father calls Stephen lazy and his mother is disappointed with his lack of interest in the church. This shows that Stephen’s family does not understand his need to fly away from the net. Neither to do his friends understand because they are giving him examples of nets: nationality, language, religion. Stephen’s soul has come out of the dark and mysterious waters and come into flight like a bird. This is Stephen being an Icarus and flying away from the restrains of the artificer, because an artist recreates a world that he already understands. Stephen has been through the darkness, been purified and been able to see the world for what is only to receive from it a calling as an artist.

Anonymous said...

Page 192-193 “Towards dawn he awoke…tell no more of enchanted days.”

In this passage of chapter five Stephen awakes from a dream. Some of the motifs that we discussed in class are brought up again in this passage. He is once again described as “dewy and wet.” and “he lay still, as if his soul lay amid cool waters” implies again that there is a connection between passion and water. Stephen’s dream is of Emma and he feels very passionate and is inspired to write a poem.
I found it most interesting that throughout Stephen’s poem there is references to Catholicism. He is talking about love, and passion while making a comparison to people such as the archangel, and the virgin mary. When he wakes it is described “as if the seraphim themselves were breathing upon him” This brings up the subject of Stephen’s conflicting beliefs about sex and Christianity. He had been constantly struggling to chose between these two very separate lives.
I believe that this passage shows that in a way Stephen has found a way to live between the two worlds of love, lust, and sexuality, and his Christianity. In a way Stephen has found out how to be spiritual, where as before it seemed that at sometimes he was desperate to get away from sin and hell. This passage also shows Stephen’s growth as an artist. His villanelle is inspirational, and comes from within. Overall I would say that Stephen is more comfortable, and able to be artistic because so. When he sees the woman at the end of chapter four it’s like he has had his own epiphany. He is getting away from having woman dictate his actions and is able to use his thoughts and beliefs to work as an artist.

Meredith S said...

Pages199-200: "And for ages men...over the flowing waters."

This passage includes many of the motifs present throughout the book. Birds are mentioned frequently as a connection of the Icarus myth. Deadalus attempts to teach Icarus how to fly. Stephen says that he thinks the idea of man flying is terrifying: "A sense of the unknown moved in the heart of his weariness, a fear of symbols and portents, of the hawklike man whose name he bore soaring out of his capacity on osier woven wings..." He is fearful because he knows that when Icarus dies when he tries to fly. Birds also represent freedom to wander. Stephen has wandered throughout his young life in this book, especially in terms of religion. He drifts between sin and holiness, as birds travel between seasons, "going and coming, building ever an unlasting home under the eaves of men's houses and ever leaving the homes they had built to wander." Stephen thinks about the Egyptian god Thoth, which leads to thoughts about his current stance with religion. The image he has of Thoth is humorous to Stephen. He reveals that he no longer has faith in the religion he was raised with for the same reason. He now has rejected the idea of god because he finds it to be somewhat ridiculous.
Water is mentioned in this passage in a completely opposite way than in previous chapters. In the first chapter, water was a negative image that represented Stephen's discomfort. In other chapters, water is overflowing, stormy passion pent up within him. Here, though, he describes water as being "soft liquid joy." The image of water appears after he thinks of a verse of poetry. This shows that Stephen has developed into an artist. The tides that used to rise and fall within him are replaced by "oceanic silence." His passion is used now in art, which allows the image of water to be calming rather than discomforting or wild.

Francesco P said...

Pg 165 “These questions are very profound…and come to the surface again”
A fundamental theme within Portrait of the Artist is the notion of falling and rising, which we correlate with the Daedalus/Icarus myth. The phrasing of the passage illuminated me on the concept of falling. When we refer to the Icarus myth, inevitably when he falls, because of earthly laws, he must fall to the ground or the ocean in his instance. The depths that the dean refers to makes me think there is not a bottom onto which Stephen may fall. Rather only the concept of falling is relevant, deriving security in that he can never hit the ground. That is why the enduring rhythmic falling and rising won’t bring Stephen to any nadir, nor any zenith. It merely serves as a means for him and us as readers to examine the development of his identity as an artist. When he experiences his epiphany through the beauty of the avian girl on the beach, he experiences a moment of genuine rising.
It is also mentioned that divers must explore the depths and then return to the surface if they are to derive any benefit from the experience. This alludes to the fact that Stephen is constantly falling in terms of his speculative nature, saying, “There is no such thing as free thinking inasmuch as all thinking must be bound by its own laws.” Because of the stream of consciousness structure of the book, we are capable of seeing how Stephen’s thoughts come into existence and how they are inevitably affected by the “laws” of his surroundings. The rising seems to refer to his coming aware of the thoughts that come into his mind. Rather than merely thinking them he attempts to derive their source. For instance, he is entirely aware that it has been ten years since his encounter with Emma, and knows her impression within his mind leads him to his first poem. Something that is unique to Stephen, is he does not necessarily rise to the surface again. It seems to be two simultaneous motion of falling into the depths of his consciousness and poetic nature, and rising with his perceived awareness of the world and it’s individuals.
Stephen’s “risings” are also in many ways antithetical with his original diffident nature. In the conversation with the Dean, we are aware that Stephen is becoming progressively more supercilious as his artistic persona develops. He becomes vexed over the fact that the man does not recognize the word, Tundish, and therefore becomes impatient with him. “Stephen’s mind halted by instinct, checked by the strange tone and the imagery and by the priest’s face which seemed like an unlit lamp or a reflector hung in false focus.” The dialogue fades into exchanging misinterpretations as Stephen, first with amusement then with disheartenment, realizes that the dean’s language is foreign to his own; divided by Stephen’s fretting over the incompatibility of it with his own soul. This is something that seems to define Stephen at this period of his rhythmic rising and falling. Enraptured by language, he prefers its purpose and usage to the world and its people in reality. He can be confident in the world his consciousness creates and manipulates, reflective of the earth, as he perceives it. He can live by his innate love of language in a state of conscious reverie, aloof from other individuals because of this.

hayden said...

“But the trees in Stephen’s Green… ‘I will try to learn’ said Stephen” Pgs 162-163

This passage really caught my eye while reading the chapter. Stephen feels much better when he’s alone in any circumstance that permits it is in his nature. As a boy and as he has gotten older it is still there. The passage illustrates that very well as he seems more in touch with his surroundings. He claims the place as his own calling it Stephen’s Green showing his appreciation for the place. He observes nature in a very different way than myself and others due to the way he thinks. It is a more vivid and curious outlook, smelling the rain and observing the sodden earth.
As he progresses back to the dorms it also reveals his curiosity as an artist. He observes things others do not and finds solace in wondering about the innumerous ways they could be fulfilled or the many other tidbits and secrets that enshroud them. For his way of thinking he thinks he’s an alien. Some thing foreign to the world just being some type of anomaly walking among them.
Through his expression of ideas and thoughts Stephen shapes his character and his future into a different kind. And his teachers see and silently disapprove of. Though like in the passage his teacher mocks his art skill as a ‘liberal’ art not a real art.

Molly A said...

Molly A
Pages 192-193
“Toward dawn he… smoke of her praise”

In a portion of this quote, Joyce writes, “Above the flame the smoke of praise Goes up from ocean rim to rim Tell no more of enchanted days”. Throughout A Portrait of the Artist as A Young Man, we see a number of occasions in which Stephen has clear, negative feelings toward water. Its an object, in Stephen’s childhood, that acts as a fear, a dislike, an object associated with weakness, crying, dirtiness, anger, etc. Even something as specific as Wells, a childhood enemy, symbolizes water through his name: tears WELL up in your eyes, or a WELL filled with water. It is something that occurs most frequently when Stephen is lacking development and when he is forced to halt developing due to a setback. This particular motif can be linked to the story of Icarus and Daedalus, when Icarus falls to the ocean and drowns. Falling, another motif, along with rising, is a similarly significant part of both The Portrait and Icarus. However, the irony in this connection is that Stephen, who we’ve often associated with Icarus, rises above the water in the end, rather than fall into it, in the way Icarus does.
Throughout Stephen’s development, there is less of an animosity towards water. By the end of the book, he refers to water in an admiring way, as though it is an object of power and happiness. “O what sweet music! His soul was all dewy wet…as if his soul lay amid cool waters.” His constant inability: to fit it, to avoid indulging in sins, to absolve his sins, to feel forgiven for them, was his manner of “falling”. In the end, when he has accepted himself and has risen above, for himself to a wholly degree, that he is developed. Icarus, was encaged in his sin: the disobedience towards his father, and it led him to the water, to his death. Stephen was also enclosed within his sins and the guilt he felt, and during this period he fell. However, when he found a way to allow himself out, to be free from the constant guilt, he was able to rise out of the water and above, like the smoke. The cage, water, rising/falling, are all motifs that are frequently occurring in both stories. However, Icarus and Daedelus is a myth, not a bildungsroman. It is he bildungsroman manner of The Portrait insists that Stephen rises above, signifying his self-growth.

Nick B said...

Pg. 179-180 “This race… farrow”

A key motif in Chapter One was the question of nationality and loyalty. I felt that the chapter simply provided arguments for each side; religious loyalty and national loyalty. It did not, however, say which side was right, nor did it say how Stephen felt about it. He was confused and lost, mindlessly following words and spitting them back to us but not comprehending the meanings. I wrote in my Chapter One summary that I thought that that was foreshadowing of a continuous fight to find his place and his position in the matter. Though Parnell and his cause are referred to several times, and the issue is raised slightly in different chapters, the culmination of what the Christmas dinner started for Stephen is in this passage from Chapter Five.

Stephen has gone through many stages of development; first he was mindless of his sins and took no accountability, then he realized his sins and felt damned to hell, then he found salvation and thought the answer was eternal piety, and now finally he looks deeper into it. He’s not just finding a scapegoat for his sins in the world around him; he’s insightfully seeing what really causes them. He’s now able to take a detached look at himself and see that it’s not all his fault; he’s a product of the world he lives in. This realization allows him to find the balance he needs between the piety of priesthood and the damnation of sinning.

Stephen is also now able to look at the Irish Independence cause without any illusions or false senses of loyalty. He realizes that it really isn’t his fight, so why bother fighting it? Are they unhappy for any reason other than they’re told they should be by people like Parnell? It’s a good point, and one that not many people can see, certainly not the young Stephen we first meet.

He extends the new abstract analyzing viewpoint he has towards nationality on to religion and language as well. He realizes that everything in his life really is trying to pull him one way or another in regards to those three things. Now that he knows this he can try to “fly by those nets”. The core theme of the book isn’t him flying by these nets or making some obvious development, it’s the smaller points of his character and personality that develop him into a man who now will be able to fly by those nets. It’s like high school, we aren’t made who we are in high school, it simply gives us the skills to move on to real development later in life. Stephen builds the infrastructure of his character and his identity throughout the book, and the finished product is displayed to be a good one by the insight he has in this passage.

fenkor said...

H. Ono

p 219 "Well? Stephen said... exile and cunning."

Stephen and Cranley get into a big discussion on freedom and life in general. The politically correct definition of freedom as discussed in my international relations class was basically the people can decide for themselves what to do within set limits. The whole Icarus idea is about flying away to escape a trap made by the inventor himself. Freedom could be a form of flying and Cranly talks about a way of life or "of art whereby your spirit could express itself in unfettered freedom." Stephen "raised his hat" to this and through out the book he has had to reject religion, the country, and many others to try and find this freedom.

Cranley then says "but you are not free enough to yet to commit a sacrilege." This raises the question of what truly is freedom and in some ways contradicts the idea by placing restrictions on freedom. The word sacrilege is associated with religion and the church where Steven grew up as a student. Though he has rejected religion he still maintains some of the values he was taught. So when Cranley asks "would you rob" Steven answers by saying "I would beg first."

But, when Steven is pressed he gives a long speach saying "You wish me to say...of the secular arm?" He seems to be flying away from the issue by talking about what people would generally do. Pressed further, he finally says "it would pain me much to do as to be robbed." Though this sounds like an snswer it doesn't really answer the question. He also uses the word secular which means the world outside the ideals of the church. Another question is then asked and this one involves deflowering a virgin. Steven then flies away again and says "Excuse me, is that not the ambition of most young gentlemen?" It gets to a point where Cranley finally says "what is your point of view?" Steven then says "I will not...exile and cunning." Basically he will continue to look for a new way of life and try to do this peacefully. The teacher has said that there is a continuation of this book where Steven realizes that his ideals are very hard to realize. Hopefully in the next book Steven will finally show the results of his search for the meaning of life. Interestingly, religion promotes people to search for a meaning in life and Steven continues to do this. Many wanderers end up joining religions to help them find answers as it is said, "seek and you will find." (Luke 11:9 or Mathtthew 7:7)

Marisa D. said...

Pg 157-158
“Ivory, ivoire, avorio, ebur…. He had learnt what little he knew of the laws of Latin verse from a ragged book written by a Portuguese priest. Contrahit, variant in carmine vates.”
A motif, not yet discussed, but appears in almost every chapter is not an object. From chapter one when Stephen is talking about the French word for God which is Dieu, to the end of the book, there is some mention of a Latin, French, Italian, or Greek phrase in all of the chapters. In this passage Stephen recalls the first phrase he learned in Latin which was “India mittit ebur.”(India sends ivory) and how his astute rector had taught him Ovid’s Metamorphoses in courtly English, which the rector made whimsical by mention of English slang terms. (A side note: the passage refers to Metamorphoses which is also an important theme in the book. The story of Icarus and Dedalus is one of the many Greek myths included in Ovid’s book; Dedalus is also Stephen’s last name.) Stephen is fascinated by words in all languages, foreign and English. In the preceding passage the narrator talks about how Cranly’s “listlessness” made Stephen think about his use of casual words and how they just flowed through him.
“But the night shade of his friend’s listlessness seemed to be diffusing in the air around him a tenuous and deadly exhalation; and he found himself glancing from one casual word to another on his right or left in stolid wonder that they had been so silently emptied of instantaneous sense until every mean shop legend bound his mind like the words of a spell and his soul shriveled up sighing with age as he walked on in a lane among heaps of dead language. His own consciousness of language was ebbing from his brain and trickling into the very words themselves which set to band and disband themselves in wayward rhymes…”
Stephen, unlike other people, is aware of every word that is said to him, that he reads, and that he uses in speech or in writing. He is always critiquing his use of words as is evident in another preceding passage following a poem he has created in his mind, “Did anyone ever hear such drivel? Lord Almighty! Who ever heard of ivy whining on a wall? Yellow ivy: that was all right. Yellow ivory also. And what about ivory ivy?” Joyce makes Stephen aware of something as simple as a word to show something. Artists are aware of everything around them, from the smallest detail like a word to the largest detail. The author uses the word motif to show Stephen becoming more and more aware of the world around him. Joyce uses Stephen’s understanding of foreign languages to emphasize his awareness of the world.

Francesco P said...

I wanted to add something that seemed significant in correlation to what I said earlier about Stephen not ever falling completely. "Not to fall was too hard, too hard: and he felt the silent lapse of his soul, as it would be at some instant to come, falling, falling, but not yet fallen, still unfallen, but about to fall." (141)

I think this depicts what i was trying to say. Stephen is constantly on the bounds of falling. Stuck within the period of free-fall between leaving the ground, and returning to the ground after falling.

Since this was made directly after his affirmation that his wisdom was to be obtained by his own travels and experiences, we know that Stephen is accepting and expectant of falling. He realizes that falling within the eyes of his society, (church, family, etc.) is pivotal to his formation as an artist. Especially with the parallel of Satan falling by him not serving; much as the artist can't serve a higher conscious being, for they serve the authenticity of what they perceive as truth, within their own soul and within their reality.