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.


2 thoughts on “getting older and reaching further

  1. I absolutely agree. Stephen’s narrative is constantly riddled with wanderlust and nostalgia, even from his young age. It’s like he has lived more than his years. It’s easy to tell that from such a young age he already has the mindset of an artist. The advancement in vocabulary is logically showing Stephen’s maturity, his intelligence finally catching up to his “old soul”.

  2. I agree with how you explain the continuing presence and increasing sophistication of Stephen’s epiphanies throughout the novel. As you noted, these realizations become more complex stylistically, and the same occurs concerning their thematic nature and psychological implications. As we discussed in class, Stephen’s “epiphanies” seem trivial compared the accepted idea of what constitutes an epiphany, yet it is this emphasis of importance even the focusing of an image or the clarification of an emotion that Stephen’s development as an artist is evident, especially concerning his focus on aestheticism.

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