Stephen’s Sexual Cravings

“She too wants me to catch hold of her. He thought.  That’s why she came with me to the tram.  I could easily catch hold of her when she comes up to my step; nobody is looking.  I could hold her and kiss her” (58)

“His lips would not bend to kiss her.  He wanted to be held firmly in her arms, to be caressed slowly, slowly, slowly.  In her arms he felt that he had suddenly become strong and fearless and sure of himself.  But his lips would not bend to kiss her” (85)

Both of these passages are geared towards Stephen’s sexual desires, but towards different women; the first passage depicts Stephen’s sexual desire for E.C., a girl at the party whereas the second passage refers to Stephen’s sexual desire of getting intimate with a prostitute.  Joyce uses different tenses to portray Stephen’s sexual desires: Joyce uses first tense in the first passage with the word “I” whereas Joyce uses third tense in the second passage with words such as “he and she”.  Most importantly, both passages represents Stephen’s sexual cravings at different stage of his life; the first passage represents Stephen’s imagination as a young boy where he thinks of being intimate with E.C. and wanting to kiss her.  When boys are young and undergo puberty, they hold such sexual desires which Joyce shows through Stephen’s imagination.  However, in the second passage, Joyce depicts Stephen’s actual desire of getting intimate with the girl, representing his lust for the physical need of women.

Joyce, James. (2000). A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.  New York: Oxford University Press Inc.

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