Portrait of The Artist
A Portrait of The Artist as a Young Man Stephen, makes the claim that he perceives his identity as being selfcontained and non-contradictory. Being readers we see that this in actuality is almost a direct opposite of how Stephen has been living his life. As his mind jumps from thinking about a life as a man of god then to life as a man who can express his feelings he sees a women on a beach. This passage shows where Stephen attempts to apply his esthetic views.
In this, the fourth chapter, Stephen confesses to the director that he has been thinking about becoming a priest. During this he thinks about the power that he could obtain from being part of the church’s clergy. At the end of the meaning however a dark warning that he must think of his decision. “you must be quiet sure, Stephen, because it may depend the salvation of your eternal soul.” It is almost like the priest had been reading the life of Stephen and knew that he had other worldly wishes. This final comment puts Stephen into mood that would in fact change his mind.
During this time when Stephen is leaving the meeting James Joyce uses imagery as before in the novel to compel the reader to think of Stephen the artist. “A quartet of young men .. stepping to the agile melody of their leader’s concertina”. This is where Stephen starts to think of the dull “passionless life that awaited him”. These troubles lead him into thoughts of the symbols of the church especially that of the Virgin Mary and how they are loosing their slots in his memory. These in turn are being replaced by images of freedom and the ease at which men of his kind can “fall”.
His thinking leads him on a walk that passes by the ocean. In this part of the book is where Stephen tries to apply his esthetic understanding to a girl that he sees at the beach. When he sees her his mind transforms into a painters board where he transforms the girl into a “strange and beautiful seabird”. When he is describing this it is almost like the true Stephen is let loose and all that he wants to be is before him. He turns and looks away from her after his soul feels joy and he walks in the pure joy of the thing he saw.
But then suddenly finds himself unknowing of where he is and how long he had been walking. However he had finally been able to open up to his eyes to the fact that he is not destined to be in the priest hood. This is how the passage shows development of Stephan as a young man and also as an artist.
As with other sections of this book another contradiction is made. Right after Stephan decides that he wants to be a priest he turns the tables and finds his true calling to be a artist. I don’t however truly believe that he is so much contradicting himself as much as it seems. As in most choices of life a series of events has to be set into motion to achieve a goal. Young catholic children are raised to respect the church and to try to be as close to those that they respect as possible. Young Stephen is not supposed to the man or artist that he wants to be and therefore hasn’t been subjected to those surroundings that would let his mind progress in the way it wants to. It takes the image of a women who is almost unreal to set in motion the life of Stephen the Artist.