Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. New York: Viking, 1964. Print.96.
“O you hypocrites, o you white sepulchres, o you who present a smooth smiling face to the world while your soul within is a foul swamp of Sib, how will it fare with you in that terrible day?”
James Joyce is complaining about the hypocracy of people and the language he uses is intense to convey this. He complains about fake people.
“His throat ached with a desire to cry aloud, the cry of a hawk or eagle on high, to cry piercingly of his deliverance to the winds. This was the call of life to his soul not the dull gross voice of the world of duties and despair, not the inhuman voice that had called him to the pale service of the altar. An instant of wild flight had delivered him and the cry of triumph which his lips withheld cleft his brain.”
James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. pg. 143
“A glow of desire kindled again his soul and fired and fulfilled all his body. Conscious of his desire she was waking from odorous sleep, the temptress of his villanelle. Her eyes, dark and with a look of languor, were opening to his eyes. Her nakedness yielded to him, radiant, warm, odorous, and lavishlimbed, enfolded him like a shining cloud, enfolded him like water with a liquid life: and like a cloud of vapour or like waters circumfluent in space the liquid letters of speech, symbols of the element of mystery, flowed forth over his brain.” (187-188)
James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).
The imagery and comparisons are dominating this quotation. Stephen seems to be describing a feeling of love and lust by saying the words desire, temptress, warm, and radiant all together. This feeling of “mystery” lingers with him as he thinks about this experience.
“The world for all its solid substance and complexity no longer existed for his soul save as a theorem of divine power and love and universality.”
This quote caught my attention because it is explaining Stephen’s new outlook on everything. He has decided to completely devote himself to cleansing his soul and this quote serves to solidify his viewpoint of the world as a vessel for him to achieve his religious goal.
James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 126.
“You have asked me what I would do and what I would not do. I will tell you that I will do and what I will not do. I will not serve that in which I no longer believe whether it call itself my home, my fatherland or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using my defense the only arms I allow myself to use-silence, exile, and cunning.”
James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pg. 208
Through this passage, Stephen is essentially answering his own question on page 139 when he wonders why he had refused to enter the clergy as intended. The answer is finally revealed in this passage.
“He still tried to think what was the right answer. Was it right to kiss his mother or wrong to kiss his mother? What did that mean, to kiss? You put your face up like that to say goodnight and then his mother put her face down. That was to kiss. His mother put her lips on his cheek; her lips were soft and they wetted his cheek; and they made a tiny little noise: kiss. Why did people do that with their two faces?”
James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pg. 11.
Demonstrating affection towards a mother or any other person through a kiss is an act commonly done without much thought put into it. Stephen’s questioning of what it is, it’s meaning, whether it’s wrong or right, and why people do it caught my attention. The dissection of the gesture, the phrasing of the questions, viewing it objectively rather than subjectively, they have an adult-like quality to them, being given to us through a child.
“His childhood was dead or lost and with it his soul capable of simple joys, and he was drifting amid life like the barren shell of the moon.”
Joyce, James, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. New York: Dover, 1994. 80.
His childhood was so devoid of joy that he never really learned how to enjoy himself. His soul is lifeless like the moon.
“There remained no trace of the tram itself nor of the trammen nor of the horses: nor did he and she appear vividly. The verses told only of the night and the balmy breeze and the maiden lustre of the moon. Some undefined sorrow was hidden in the hearts of the protagonists as they stood in silence beneath the leafless trees…having hidden his book, he went into his mother’s bedroom and gazed at his face for a long time in the mirror of her dressing table.”
Joyce, James, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. New York: Dover, 1994. 49.
Stephen tries to recreate the scene with Ellen, but cannot evoke an image of himself: he sees himself as a “protagonist,” –a character– which is fitting since he is writing a poem and technically the protagonist. But since he has struggled with the writing process and cannot picture himself, it suggests he may see himself as a protagonist in his own life, that is, an unidentifiable being. There is some sort of dissociative break with the self as he struggles through adolescence. Hence the long staring at himself in the mirror, perhaps to reassure himself of a rooted, singular identity. Begs the question, why?