Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Place for Andrew Ryan to Post His A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Part-to-Whole Essay

Andrew, it's probably too many characters to fit in one blog post so break it up.
Thank you.


Andrew Ryan said...

Andrew Ryan
December 6, 2009
E- Block
AP English
Nurturing Birds
Birds in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man connect to the novel as a whole since they guide Stephen Dedalus from childhood to adulthood, keeping a watchful eye until he is ready to liberate himself from society and religion to pursue a career as an artist. Throughout the novel Stephen struggles to discover his own identity and values. Stephen, like a bird, soars and sinks during his journey toward self-actualization. Birds are mentioned first as threatening creatures to restrain Stephen from leaving his society too soon. Only until he understands and forms opinions of his own will he be released. Birds are vital in Stephen’s life because they nurture him from childhood until he gains confidence with his body and with expressing his controversial ideas.
In Stephen’s early childhood, birds are mentioned to confine his ideas about society and religion. On page 4, after Stephen says “The Vances…under the table”, Stephen’s aunt replies to Stephen by saying “O, if not the eagles will pull out his eyes”, which teaches Stephen that one cannot do anything he pleases, that one’s life is bounded by the regulations of society and religion. If one does not abide by these rules and regulations, then they will have their eyes plucked out, according to his aunt. In this scene birds are used to scare Stephen from considering marrying a Protestant girl. Regardless of the confusion these rules bring about in Stephen, they are important to his family and for his development into an artist. As he matures he brings with him the values and beliefs of his family. Had Stephen dismissed his family’s heritage and ideas instead of taking them in, he would have grown up ignorant and one-sided.
As Stephen’s inattentive maturation progresses, birds initiate Stephen’s time to fly toward his dream of becoming an artist despite Stephen’s uncertainty. On page 66, when Heron, Stephen’s bully says to Wallis that “Dedalus is a model youth…or damn all” Stephen is ridiculed by a bird in an attempt to provoke him to fly away from society. Stephen describes heron, which is a birds name as looking like a bird when he describes Heron’s face as a “flushed and mobile face, beaked like a bird’s”. This scene symbolically shows Stephen being made a fool by a bird, which reveals that the birds feel Stephen, is mature enough and has gained enough knowledge to take flight. The birds taunt Stephen in order to trigger him to take off since Stephen is not taking the initiative. The birds want Stephen to soar above society yet they want him to take society’s values with him. During this scene Stephen is oblivious toward the birds provocation and dismisses these comments.

Andrew Ryan said...

During the period in which Stephen has reached full maturity, the birds continue to direct him toward his destiny. On pages 147-148, when a bully of Stephen says to him “Hello, Stephanos…his windswept limbs” Stephen is again picked on by fellow classmates, but unlike past occurrences Stephen feels more comfortable and confident with himself. Instead of getting down on himself he belittles the bullies as for example when Stephen describes the bullies as “corpsewhite or suffused…flapless sidepockets” He also claims to envision “a winged form flying above the waves and slowly climbing into the air” which baffles him for he doesn’t know what it means. This passage, which refers to the Icarus and Dedalus story in which Icarus the son flies toward the sun shows that Stephen is envisioning himself flying above the irrelevant debates of childhood toward his personal goal of becoming an artist. As the novel progresses, Stephen is asked to become a priest by a current priest. Birds help Stephen direct his concentration on the path toward becoming an artist. On page 150, after being asked to be a priest, Stephen notices a girl who he describes using beautiful bird imagery when saying, “She seemed like… dark-plumaged dove”. Birds are mentioned as a beautiful and youthful species in this scene so Stephen will see the fault in becoming a priest. Stephen comes to this realization when he says, “Her image had… on and on!” because he understands that he cannot control his sexual urges and if he becomes a priest he will be confined and unable to continue his quest toward becoming an artist. As Stephen watches the birds fly overhead on pages 198-200 he says, “What birds were they…or of loneliness” which provides as a turning point in the novel because Stephen finally realizes that he can leave society and will soar toward his goal when he says, “But was it…which he had come?” Stephen also says while watching the birds, “He thought that… built to wander” which reveals that Stephen has come to the realization that he can leave society because like a bird which are “ever going and coming” he will return back to his home. Stephen is elated which is shown when he says, “A soft liquid joy… the flowing waters” after he makes up his decision to fly. After this decision Stephen speaks freely about his opinions despite the consequences and is seen as a leader in society for it. Stephen at the end of the novel continues to follow the path toward becoming an artist and it would not have been possible with the mothering nature of the birds.