Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Portrait of the Artist (Chapter 3)

Explain how some of what you've written about already extends into chapter 3. Think about the motifs and themes. Think about Stephen's development (as person and artist). Think about St. Stephen and Daedalus/Icarus. Think about the style. How do these develop in chapter 3.


Marisa D. said...

I'm not sure if anyone else noticed this but the author uses Latin phrases a lot. Almost every two pages has a phrase in Latin.

nFrye said...

As Mr. Cook mentioned in class today, there is a reference to greasy food at the beginning of chapter three. Stephen associates this food with the sin of gluttony, which is then tied to the sin that plagues him the most: lust.
After cleansing himself of his sins, Stephen is able to see everything as beautiful: the muddy streets as well as the food that before reminded him so much of his evildoings.

This chapter, with its intense descriptions of Hell, mocks in a way the manner which Stephen thinks of himself. By seeing his reactions to the preachings, we see how entirely self-absorbed he is. He drags himself deeper and deeper into his own mind and situation where he drowns in fear and self-pity. He acts as though he is the only person who would ever commit such terrible crimes. (Example: he is so afraid to take confession from the priests in his own community that he takes himself to a chapel in another part of town.)

I also find that as I read this book that Joyce is mocking the way in which the Catholic Church teaches people and keeps people under their control. The descriptions of Hell are so exaggerated. (I found them very "Spanish Inquisition"-esque).

Megan Keegan said...

I agree with what Nancy said about the church and listening to preachers with self pity. I’m not sure if Stephen regrets his actions as much as he pities himself. It is evident that he realizes how much he has sinned and wants to change but knows that he can’t change the past. There is a strange moment when Stephen is in his room and talks about scroll hanging on his wall that is devoted to the Virgin Mary. He talks about his feelings toward her when he says “If ever he was impelled to cast sin from him and to repent, the impulse that moved him was the wish to be her knight.” In this moment, Stephen is thinking about what he would need to take back in order to achieve peace enough to be with the Virgin Mary. He goes on to say that from the sin of lust that he experienced with the prostitute, other sins have “sprung forth” in his actions. He feels that he is not thankful but greedy and angry more than ever and describes this feeling as though “his whole body being had sunk.” Throughout chapter 3 Stephen is down on himself about what he has done, but doesn’t try to correct things as he is doing them. This is evident when he is walking home from celebrating St. Francis Xavier and is aggravated by how rich the meal he ate was. He reflects that he has “sunk to the state of a beast” and feels a moment of fear within himself. Stephen is very indecisive in this section of the book, most of which comes from now knowing where he stands regarding religious influence.

Francesco P said...

I don't quite agree with Nancy about the source of Stephen’s fear of hell. It's not so much that's he's self-absorbed, but rather the foundation of what he believes he wants to base his life off of is purity. He can't compare his principles to others notion of purity as they are biased in their perceptions; Noting that he was asked of the director whether he thought he held a vocation for priesthood, as clearly others falsely see him as a pure pious image.

Yet the “fiery hell” scene also reflects Stephen's own nature. His perception is deeply based upon the reality that he creates for himself. We can track this throughout the novel in various scenes; pg 58: "He chronicled with patience what he saw, detaching himself from it and testing its mortifying flavour in secret" pg 81: "By his monstrous way of life he seemed to have put himself beyond the limits of reality. Nothing moved him or spoke to him from the real world unless he heard in it an echo of the infuriated cries within him." Stephen aloofness from reality is one of the prime reasons why he is so zealous over his own introspective observations. A consistency of the nature of the world does not exist for Stephen. It’s within his consciousness that reality manifests itself, and he is aware of this. We see how Joyce uses the concept of damnation by the church to illustrate Stephen's internal conradictions. As he lives in the world of the abstract, it's "logical" that he values salvation and entrance into heaven, something that cannot be tangibly observed, much further than mortal life. We see this earlier in Stephen's childhood; how he is apt to detach himself from physical reality, and later when it manifests itself into a deliberate piety, which resulted from his attempt at penitence for his sinning. Also, Stephen articulates this notion plainly when saying, "It would be beautiful to die if God so willed. It was beautiful to live in grace a life of peace and virtue and forbearance with others." Yet this is something that was more or less forced into him through the Church. He values aesthetics and poetic beauty, and yet, because of the conflicting nature and the oppressions from the church, he rejects his appreciation for them, as they are "worldly" values. He consciously cuts off his senses and thereby diminishing his exposure to worldy images, further driving him to aspire towards the conceptual world he’s created.

Another aspect in which the church explicitly demonstrates their resistance to self-fulfillment and realization is through the fall of Lucifer. As we know, Lucifer’s fall was a result of pride, his assertion of “I will not serve” (103) something that Stephen later on repeats. Joyce further illustrates the parallel with Stephen when he refers to Adam and Eve, “…There was one condition imposed on them by God: obedience to His word. They were not to eat of the fruit of the forbidden tree… They too fell.” As a developing artist, Stephen is drawn to the aesthetic and multi dimensional existence of the world. It follows that this would include the acquirement of outside knowledge and exposure to diversity. The Church acts a clear oppressor in restricting his yearnings for these desires, insisting if he were to “eat from the tree of knowledge” he would fall in sin.
The parallel with the mythical Deadalus and Icarus is also quite evident through this. They attempt to obtain their freedom through fabricating a pair of wings. Stephen, likewise, could attempt to create his wings through his artistic capabilities, something that he innately holds within him. But as the church, so far in, has been so overbearing he has not been able to genuinely fulfill his own abilities, without his conscious self-restraint or shameful thoughts proceeding it. Therefore, when he jumps, alluding to his “sinful” act of lust, he is vulnerable to the notion of hell that he is tormented by, and has not developed his own identity to the point where his ‘wings’ are an extension of himself and thus he is left to fall.

Anonymous said...

Terri M.

The paragraph before the sermon on hell in chapter three has suggestive imagery that alludes of how Stephen feels about the church. Read the next little passage and it will speak for itself, “He sat again in the front bench of the chapel. The daylight without was already failing and, as it fell slowly through the dull red blinds, it seemed that the sun of the last day was going down and that all souls were being gathered for the judgment.” This passage uses imagery just like the passage we talked about in class (the priest who had the blind string in his hand, resembling a noose). Although Stephen says that the souls seemed like they were being gathered for judgment day the effect of red blinds is that he is already in hell.

Throughout A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man the bodily senses are mentioned time and again. Stephen identifies strongly with how his senses are reacting to his surrounding circumstances. The ways that the senses react to hell and to the denial of the seven deadly sins is ironic, because they are similar. On page 106 it says, “ Imagine some foul and putrid corpse that has laid rotting and decomposing in the grave…Corruption.” Then on page 131, the smell of stale fish and urine are some of the scents Stephen chooses to fill his nostrils with. My sense of smell is very keen, if I smell something the slightest bit bad I get sick. I cannot imagine purposely-smelling things of this nature. In addition, in hell, there is said to be sounds of people wailing, and the sounds in general are terrifying. Stephen chooses to listen to the sound of knives being sharpened. This is equivalent of scraping your nails down a black board to torture yourself ( for most people this is torturous). It seems so unhealthy that Stephen is putting himself through a living hell just for the sake of not falling prey to the seven deadly sins. This is one way the church physically appears hellish, and the duties that Stephen takes on because of being part of the church are hellish.

Meredith S said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Meredith S said...

Something that stood out to me in the third chapter is the image of flowers. Stephen mentions flowers in chapter one as well: “White rose and red roses: those were beautiful colors to think of… Perhaps a wild rose might be like those colors and he remembered the song about the wild rose blossoms on the little green place.” (Pg. 9) If you think of red roses representing art/ passion and white roses representing purity/holiness, this connects to the flowers in chapter three nicely. He observes white flowers while he is in church (I think it is in a dream…), which is appropriate given their meaning. “The altar was heaped with fragrant masses of white flowers: and in the morning light the pale flames of the candles among the white flowers were clear and silent as his own soul.” (Pg. 127) Fire is usually a wild image associated with passion, but in this case the flame is pale to show that it is tame. Stephen is completely devoted to his religion at his point, and his obsession with cleanliness and purity stifles his artistic passion. His passion cannot be free within the church, so therefore the flame must be dull next to the white flower. He cannot find a balance between religion and passion because at this point he is certain that they cannot coexist. The white flowers being “silent as his own soul” shows that although he feels at peace in this moment, his mind is not allowing itself to think creatively as it should be, because vivid imagination is an essential part of Stephen’s thought process.

Anonymous said...

As a major part of the book and of chapter three, Stephen’s body issues are something that I find very interesting. After being with a prostitute, he perseverates on the body’s lust and how sinful it can be. I believe that he has the urge to get a way from the body and connect deeper with his soul. "At his first violent sin he had felt a wave of vitality pass out of him and had feared to find his body or his soul maimed by the excess.......and no part of body or soul had been maimed but a dark peace had been established between them. " (pg 91) It seems within his religion that the soul and the body are two very separate things and by refusing to indulge your body, your soul will be better off. Even eating compels Stephen to think of himself as a beast, and he becomes worried about the sins of his flesh.

Katina T said...

After re-reading the passage right after Stephen has confessed, I noticed many motifs of the book all wrapped into one passage. Stephen had just heard about the intense details of hell, and when he felt that he was free of this, he views his surroundings with optimistic eyes. From pg. 126-127, “He knelt n his penance…through the quiet morning towards the college.” Stephen mentions darkness, smells, flowers, fire, dreams, and the concepts of being purified, all in just this short passage.

He compares his heart to a white rose, “white” mainly representing his renewed purity, and the “rose” because of its beauty. The rose is also being used to portray the “perfume” that is being released from it (his prayers to be forgiven) Joyce is always using smells to describe how Stephen is feeling. In chapter three the stench of hell is one of the factors that overpowers Stephen to confess. This leads him to his next smell, a smell of liberation in my opinion, of the perfume of the rose taking his prayers to heaven.

As this perfume “ascends” to heaven, it brings up another motif: rising and falling. At this moment of the novel, Stephen is free of any weights that could keep him down and his definitely in a state of rising up. He know longer feels that he is “falling” like many in hell are said to be.

He speaks of rising in this passage, yet there is still a foreshadowing that shows how Stephen feels his past mistakes will not leave him be. Throughout all of his happiness, there is one line in which it is the opposite. “He knelt to say his penance, praying in a corner of the dark nave.” If Stephen truly felt that his repentance had been forgiven, wouldn’t he have been in the brightly lit area of the church? Perhaps this is a slight foreshadowing of how Stephen will eventually reject his religious views. Moreover, being in a corner of a dark nave is another way to represent how Stephen is still ashamed of his mistakes, and how the past will most likely not stay in the past as easily as he hopes.

Marisa D. said...

Stephen's experience as he goes over the religious sermon binds his perceptions of past and future. Stephen's horror of hell is mainly a horror of sufferings to come in the future, which he experiences as if they are in the present. He lives through his own future death: "He, he himself, his body to which he had yielded was dying. Into the grave with it! Nail it down into a wooden box, the corpse." Stephen's imagination carries him still farther into the future, all the way to the equally terrifying Judgment Day. However, while religion forces Stephen to face the future, it also forces him to confront the past. Father Arnall visits the school like a figure out of Stephen's memory, a ghost from years gone by. Stephen responds to the visit with a return to infancy: "His soul, as these memories came back to him, became again a child's soul." Stephen's encounter with the past is more than just memory—it is a momentary change in his very soul. Therefore, Arnall's sermon prompts Stephen both back toward childhood and forward toward death, reaching out to both extremes of his life.

Brianna A said...

In chapter three Stephen sets himself up for discovery. As we discussed in class, Stephen needed to go through some falls in order for him to rise. Everything with his temptations and his sins of the flesh were necessary for him to understand the world. Catholicism centers on God’s grant of free will to us. Stephen’s free will confused his desires and his yearning for something with sins when really it’s for the artist. As we see Stephen doing in this chapter with acknowledging his deadly sins like lust, greed, and gluttony he is starting to repent. Stephen visualizes another flood wiping away the world just after he pictures the Virgin Mary giving Stephen a chance to be happy and pure with Emma. Later when Stephen is listening to the rain and looking out at the sky after the rainfall gives Stephen the hope of promise. Soon after Stephen leaves the house to confess and his is filled with “grace”.

The motif of water; rain, floods, fountains, waves, is a symbol of Stephen’s undulation of desire and urge. Something inside of him like the tides is pushing forward to crash and release. I believe that Stephen confuses these urges with temptation and that’s where he gets lost for a while. Once Stephen calms the water and purifies himself he is able to see clearly that sin is not the desire he longs for but rather for the clarity of the spiritual world.

Andrew Ryan said...

This chapter appears to be a turning point in Stephen’s life because at the beginning of the chapter he is feels completely and utterly sinful and by the end he releases that weight by confessing it. By the end of the chapter it seems that Stephen has freed himself and will lead a life of purity.
The diction used in the beginning of this chapter expressed a feeling of dull and uncomfortable. In the first line of the chapter “The swift December… belly crave for its food” Stephen describes that it is a dull day as he stares through a dull square of the window. Stephen also says “It would be a gloomy secret night.” By starting the chapter this way it reveals that Stephen is carrying a heaven burden of sin and this sin is has left Stephen depressed and defeated. The narrator says “A cold lucid indifference reigned in his soul” which proves that Stephen at this point has given up, he feels and accepts the fact that he is going to hell. Stephen knows that it is futile to try and redeem himself for his acts of lust when he says “What did it avail to pray when he knew that his soul lusted it own destruction?” By saying this, Stephen feels that he has no control over lust and that he is simply a lustful person and there is nothing he can do about it.
The rector only exacerbates Stephen’s feeling of guilt, but it seems to spark such a fear of hell in him that now he does not want to go to hell. The rector, whose sermon on hell was obviously exaggerated, was vital to Stephen’s awakening. When Stephen dreams about hell he describes that he is in “A field of stiff weeds and thistles and tufted nettlebunches” which shows that Stephen feels he is being restrained from advancing to heaven. As the chapter goes on Stephen realizes this can not be his fate, and so he chooses he must lighten his load so he will be light as a bird allowing him to fly to heaven. Birds are mentioned throughout the novel because they represent purity and they are able to fly because they do not have sin weighing them down.
After he confesses, Stephen can see the beauty of the world again whereas before the burden of sin had blurred his vision. Stephen is able to see the light coming through the darkness, for example the line “The muddy street were gay” reveals that Stephen’s sudden exuberance supersedes all misfortunes.

Nick B said...

I find it interesting to connect the events of each chapter back to the Daedalus/Icarus story. We touched on it in class today but didn't pursue it very deeply. I found the sermon in Chapter Three absolutely ridiculous. It was moving, no question, the whole “fire and brimstone” concept was taken to the max by the preacher, but I feel like it was excessive. Very. Why spend almost a whole chapter, a fifth of the book, trying to describe how sinful and damned Stephen felt? I know just the fact that it is so excessive is significant, but I don’t think that really justifies it. But getting past that little irritation, the imagery was amazingly vivid. I found myself hoping that I haven’t and won’t sin, and I’m not even religious. But how can we relate this insanely intense sermon back to the Daedalus/Icarus story?
I think it is all about the cycles we talked about in class; the fall from grace and the rise back from damnation, focusing on the redemption in between. Stephen has fallen, is realizing the severity of his sins, and is, due to this sermon, deciding to follow the path of redemption to attain God’s grace once more. Icarus is a Stephen who wasn’t quite lucky enough to make it past the fall. If he had flown almost too close to the sun and almost plunged into the water, but just barely escaped alive then perhaps he would have realized his foolishness and redeemed himself. The real message is that you don’t choose whether you get a chance at redemption, if you screw up and sin it’s up to dumb luck whether you’ll even have a chance to fix it. Joyce liked the message portrayed in this ancient story, but also wanted to demonstrate another more spiritual and hopeful side to it.

Sabrina said...

In chapter three when Stephen is walking home from dinner in honor of Saint Francis Xavier and he is mad about how much he ate he talks about how he feels like he has become a beast. I think that I understand the different things he means by this, he talks about how rich the food was, and he is angry that he ate the way he did. This is a moment when he is falling (part of our rising and falling motif). Stephen tends to not just get angry with himself, but he gets so mad that he thinks he will be sent to Hell. He wants to rise to heaven but things constantly keep him down. Odd enough, he doesn't feel like he is falling at the end of the chapter.

Molly A said...

I noticed one particular connection of motifs in chapter 3, regarding Stephen’s feelings of imprisonment within his sins. On page 111, Joyce writes, “…he joined gently the fingers of each hand, forming a frail cage by the union of their tips.” This represents an enclosure that houses a guilt that is derived from religion, or in this case, sac religion. However, the gentle and weak image that we get from the description leads us to believe that there is a way to break free of the cage’s restriction.
Shortly after this imagery, on page 120, Joyce writes, “The leprous company of his sins closed about him, breathing upon him, bending over him from all sides.” This, similarly to the quote on page 111, illustrates the bottled up, enclosed structure of his sins around him, as well as his momentary inability to escape them. The idea that it is possible to escape these sins is proposed, once again, at the end of chapter 3, on page 127, when it says “In spite of all he had done it. He had confessed and God had pardoned him. His soul was made fair and holy once more, holy and happy.”
A cage is a particular object I’d identified as a motif a few times in this chapter. However, after making this connection, I also believe Joyce was using a method of foreshadowing, through the use of this motif.

fenkor said...

H. Ono

p 102 Has serveral discriptive imagery that show the struggles Steven has over his body. On one hand he talks about "harlots with gleaming jewel eyes" and then "guilty confession." The motif of water returns in the form of rain falling of the chapel. This could mean washing away the bad or sadness. Steven also compares himself and Emma to Adam and Eve by talking about "children that had erred." The cold returns with cold sweat as Steven remebers the things he had done and regretted. A priest on p 112 says that "greatest is the pain of loss" referring to losing God and this goes on to ways to not losing. IN the end on p125 Steven confesses and appears to be forgiven of all sin but the struggles continue.