Tag Archives: portrait

getting older and reaching further

“But he felt better now than before. It would be nice getting better slowly. You could get a book then. There was a book in the library about Holland. There were lovely foreign names in it and pictures of strange looking cities and ships. It made you feel so happy” (20).

 

“He returned to Mercedes and, as he brooded upon her image, a strange unrest crept into his blood. Sometimes a fever gathered within him and led him to rove alone in the evening along the quiet avenue. The peace of the gardens and the kindly lights in the windows poured a tender influence into his restless heart. The noise of children at play annoyed him and their silly voices made him feel, even more keenly than he had felt at Clongowes, that he was different from others. He did not want to play. He wanted to meet in the real world the unsubstantial image which his soul so constantly beheld. He did not know where to seek it or how, but a premonition which led him on told him that this image would, without any overt act of his, encounter him” (53).

 

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. (1916). A Penn State Electronic Classic Series Publication. 2000. Web.

 

The presence of epiphanies is prominent in this piece of work. We, as readers, are in Stephen’s mind- we are exploring his thoughts with him. Both passages convey a deep nostalgia and wanderlust, a sort of longing within him for something he has yet to grasp. He feels ‘happy’ looking at pictures of foreign lands, sees himself as ‘different from others’, and wants to venture out into the ‘real world’. Stylistically, one should note the change in language from the first passage to the second one; as the novel progresses, so does the vocabulary and complexity of the sentences. This may be an indication of Stephen’s psychological maturation, the fact that he is beginning to understand the world in a more complex way as he grows older.

 

Joyce as an Artist

“He closed his eyes and the train went on, roaring and then stopping; roaring again, stopping” (9).

“The guards went to and fro opening, closing, locking, unlocking the doors” (17).

James Joyce is an artist in the way that he paints with words. The way in which he constructed these sentences (and the rest of the novel, for that matter) is quite telling of his abilities to create a portrait without ever picking up a brush and pallet. He combines the past tense with the progressive tense, painting an image of something that has already occurred and yet is still occurring at the same time. A painting, for example, shows an image of something that occurred in the past, but to the onlooker in the present the image is still continuing. In Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night, the night he painted passed, but to the person viewing the image the night is still occurring. Similarly, Joyce is an artist who is painting a portrait of the events that took place in the main character’s life – events that took place and are still taking place simultaneously.

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. New York: Huebsch, 1918. Internet Archive. http://archive.org/details/aportraitartist01joycgoog.