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Portrait Of An Artist – The Role Of Women In Stephen Dedalus ’ Creative Process Essay, Research Paper

James Joyce ’ s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man presents an history of the formative old ages of draw a bead oning writer Stephen Dedalus. The really rubric of the fresh suggests that Joyce ’ s concentrate throughout will be those facets of the immature adult male ’ s life that are cardinal to his artistic development, and it allows one to see each event in Stephen ’ s life — from the opening narrative of the moocow to his experiences with faith and the university — as a important part to his growing as an creative person. Central to the experiences of Stephen ’ s life are, of class, the people with whom he interacts, and of primary importance among these people are adult females, who, as his narrative advancements, turn out to be a impulsive force behind Stephen ’ s art.

As A Portrait of the Artist advancements, the construction of the relationship between Stephen, adult females, and art becomes progressively clear. At one point in the novel, Stephen comes to the decision that his art involves “ recreat [ ing ] life out of life ” ( 434 ) and, at another, that he must “ brush for the millionth clip the world of experience and forge in my psyche ” ( 526 ) . He realizes that to carry through his fate as an creative person, he must encompass life and the experiences of which it consists, for it is from experience that he builds his creative activities. In visible radiation of this disclosure, Stephen ’ s life becomes a procedure of roll uping experiences, every bit good as a battle to interrupt free of those establishments that would forestall him from making so. For Stephen, inspiration requires experience, and it is through adult females that Stephen additions the latter and, therefore, receives the former.

Stephen ’ s relationship with the opposite sex begins to develop early in his life. Within the first few pages of the fresh lie intimations of the different functions adult females will play in his narrative. Dante becomes the first to give Stephen some experience of the universe outside himself when she teaches him approximately geographical characteristics in other states and on the Moon. This physical apprehension of the exterior universe may be the drift for Stephen ’ s subsequent building of a hierarchal list that defines his topographic point within the existence.

Both Dante and Stephen ’ s ain female parent associate themselves with penalty when they assert that he “ will apologize ” or “ the bird of Joves will come and draw out his eyes ” ( 246 ) . This incident consequences in Stephen ’ s composing of a verse form based on “ apologize ” and “ eyes, ” one

of his first artistic enterprises. Dante and Mrs. Dedalus, holding planted these words in Stephen ’ s head, are the first females to animate him to make.

Young Stephen ’ s first romantic involvement in the opposite sex comes in the signifier of his playfellow, Eileen, whom he plans to get married when they are older. This averment, although childishly guiltless, is however the first suggestion that sexual and romantic relationships with adult females will be of import to Stephen as he matures. Indeed, the visual aspect of penalty, love affair, and inspiration at such an early point in the novel creates a sense of the interrelated consequence they will hold on Stephen and his art. The association of adult females with each of these indispensable elements establishes yet another nexus between them, and emphasizes the cardinal function adult females will play in Stephen ’ s life.

Throughout his childhood, adult females continue to lend to Stephen ’ s development as an creative person, though he seems unaware of their significance. Eileen, for illustration, indirectly leads Stephen to the decision that “ by thought of things you could understand them ” ( 287 ) when he sees in her custodies and hair possible significances for the footings Tower of Ivory and House of Gold. Stephen besides displays his turning cognition of the differences between work forces and adult females when he observes that she has “ long thin cool white custodies excessively because she [ is ] a miss ” ( 286 ) .

This acknowledgment of adult females as sexual existences manifests itself once more when, after reading The Count of Monte Christo, Stephen begins to hold sexually-driven phantasies about its female supporter, Mercedes. Though she exists merely in fiction, Mercedes ’ function in Stephen ’ s development and accretion of experience is no less of import. She represents a new measure in his relationship with adult females, in that her physical presence is non required to animate Stephen ’ s imaginativeness. Her image entirely has a profound consequence on him: “ as he brooded upon her image, a unusual unrest crept into his blood ” ( 311 ) . In this instance, Mercedes ’ image stirs sexual feelings in Stephen, but finally the female image comes to hold a deeper significance for him, as does the sexual act to which it is tied.

Though his phantasies are prevailing with sexual content, Stephen finds himself unable to consummate — in even the mildest signifier — the scenes he imagines. While entirely on a ropeway with a miss his ain age, he feels compelled to snog her, but fails to make so. Angry with himself, he attempts to make with poesy what he was unable to accomplish in existent life. This clip Stephen ’ s imaginativeness is stirred non by a sexual image, but by a sexual experience, nevertheless frustrated it may be. He makes a witting determination to compose about the experience, and “ by dint of dwelling on the incident ” ( 318 ) he successfully creates a love

verse form.

Even before this incident, Stephen seems to understand that adult females hold the power to transform him ; he prophetically imagines that upon a successful consummation of the sexual act, “ failing and timidness and rawness would fall from him ” ( 311 ) . Women, in Stephen ’ s head, are the channel through which strength, daring, and — possibly most significantly — experience can be obtained. As the incident on the ropeway suggests, Stephen can non make art without the inspiration of a real-life incident. Clearly, he would prefer that his experiences have fruitful, instead than thwarting, results ; nevertheless, he is unable to actively obtain such a end. In a sense, he is effeminate, missing both the strength and daring to originate a sexual brush. Finally, the defeat becomes excessively much for him, and he seeks the services of a cocotte. Even after holding taken this initial measure, nevertheless, Stephen remains inactive: it is he who wishes “ to be held steadfastly in her weaponries ” ( 352 ) and who finally “ surrender [ s ] himself to her ” ( 353 ) . Not until she embraces him does he experience “ strong and unafraid and certain of himself ” ( 353 ) . At last, through the cocotte ’ s active part, Stephen receives the sexual experience he so desires, and confirms his foreboding that adult females can reassign experience to him through sex.

Having obtained a newfound daring, Stephen actively engages in s

in of every sort. Although perpetrating each of the seven lifelessly sins ensures Stephen of ageless damnation, he seems more concerned with sing life to its fullest. In the thick of his going

from Catholic philosophy, nevertheless, he finds himself drawn to the idol of pureness, the Virgin Mary. He feels near to “ the safety of evildoers ” ( 357 ) — despite the fact that he commits wickedness upon sin — and associates her with sex when, “ after the craze of his organic structure ’ s

lecherousness had spent itself ” ( 357 ) , his ideas turn to “ her whose beauty is non similar earthly beauty ” ( 370 ) . Once once more, the image of a adult female enraptures Stephen and inspires his imaginativeness ; but when he decides to squeal his wickednesss and seek the shelter of the Virgin, he temporarily places the moral pureness she represents above his ain initial captivation with her physical beauty.

After a brief period of intense religiousness, Stephen once more turns his dorsum to the church with the certainty that he does non belong among the pious. As he literally walks off, he “ turn [ s ] his eyes in cold blood for an instant towards the bleached bluish shrine of the Blessed Virgin ” ( 423 ) . Though he abandons the stiffly spiritual, moral facet of the Virgin, he still finds inspiration in the sexual component of her image. This becomes evident during his brush with a immature adult female on the beach shortly after his determination to go forth the church. The miss ’ s beauty immediately strikes Stephen, and he experiences something kindred to a spiritual disclosure. The image of the Virgin subtly appears in her “ slateblue skirts ” and “ mortal beauty ” ( 433 ) , and blatantly spiritual linguistic communication such as “ Heavenly God, ” “ sanctum, ” and

“ angel ” ( 434 ) fills the transition. Clearly, Stephen has non wholly discarded faith, but has alternatively incorporated it into a construct more appropriate to his development as an creative person. The immature adult female becomes “ an minister plenipotentiary from the just tribunals of life ” ( 434 ) , who delivers inspiration when “ her image [ passes ] into his psyche for of all time ” ( 434 ) . Though Stephen receives artistic inspiration throughout the novel, nowhere does the narrative so blatantly describe the function of adult females in the bringing of it. They are the envoies through which life provides him with experience, leting him “ to populate, to mistake, to fall, to prevail, to animate life out of life ” ( 434 ) . They deliver the natural experience he transforms and refines into art.

The key to understanding the relationship between adult females, sex, experience, and creative activity prevarications in Stephen ’ s association of himself with his fabulous namesake, Daedalus. By set uping a nexus between himself and the ancient discoverer, he makes evident the parallel elements of their two narratives — penalty, falling, adult females — and their relationship to his ain artistic creative activity. Pasiphae, married woman of King Minos, provides Daedalus with the drift to make when she asks him to build a cow-shaped shell in which she can conceal in order to hold sex with a bull. Therefore, adult females and sex provide the creative person with his inspiration, and are tied to the events that follow: Daedalus receives penalty, in the signifier of the Labyrinth, for his creative activity ; and the flight from this penalty finally leads to the

celebrated autumn of Icarus, who flies excessively high and melts the wax of his unreal wings.

Long before he knows the narrative of Daedalus, Stephen is cognizant of these subjects in his ain life, every bit good as their interconnection. He falls and interrupt his spectacless, and receives a pandying as a consequence. Dante tells him a bird will tweak out his eyes if he doesn ’ t apologise. Sexual activity proves to be both a beginning of defeat and a cause for penalty for his “ autumn ” from God ’ s grace into wickedness. His feminine psyche sinks “ into deepnesss of remorseful peace, no longer able to endure the hurting of apprehension ” ( 391 ) .

Clearly, these subjects have an ab initio negative intension for Stephen. Not until he makes the direct connexion between himself and his ancient opposite number does he come to acknowledge them as positive — even essential — parts of his life as an creative person, in that the experiences of his life have their beginnings in each. Merely as penalty inspires Daedalus to build wings for flight, so spiritual penitence consequences in Stephen ’ s transmutation of Catholic tradition into a metaphor for artistic inspiration that allows him to interrupt free of the church. Just as Pasiphae ’ s sexual impulses finally lead to Icarus ’ autumn into the sea, so Stephen ’ s sexual wickednesss with adult females lead to the autumn non merely of himself in relation to God,

but besides to the “ autumn from him ” of “ failing and timidness and rawness ” ( 311 ) . However, Stephen ’ s falls do non stop in calamity, but alternatively lead to prevail. The loss of his sexual rawness leads to the addition of sexual cognition and his maleness. His autumn

from the church leads to his revelatory experience with the immature adult female, and therefore to his ultimate dedication to art. Women, cardinal to the experiences that bring Stephen to these critical points, turn out to be the transformative component necessary to the fulfilment of his

artistic fate.

The apogee of the sexual, spiritual, and fabulous nature of Stephen ’ s inspiration remainders in his early-morning composing of a villanelle. The verse form — inspired by Stephen ’ s

romantic experiences with the same immature adult female who, old ages earlier, provided the inspiration for his first serious effort at poesy — comes to him as the consequence of a procedure described in evidently sexual footings. Stephen ’ s imaginativeness and spirit return on the function of the feminine go-between between life and art. Life, as the fallen angel Gabriel, visits “ the virgin ’ s chamber ” , where he impregnates her with experience, and, “ in the virgin uterus of the imaginativeness ” ( 485 ) , that experience develops into a work of art. Whereas sexual experience itself ab initio inspired art, it has now become a metaphor for the procedure of artistic creative activity, in which any sort of experience — good or bad, failure or victory — may be transformed into art. Stephen ’ s apprehension of the adult female ’ s function in this procedure changes from one in which adult females ’ s actions themselves are inspiration to one in which

female figures are the external Jesuss of inspiration, and eventually to one in which he internalizes wholly their function as go-betweens between experience and art. Once he realizes that they are Jesuss of an inspiration that is born from his ain experience, he

consigns their map to his ain imaginativeness, therefore abandoning the demand for an external mediator, while at the same clip encompassing — and accepting as a portion of himself — the centrally feminine facet of the procedure of creative activity.


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