Sophia Lee's Reviews > A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
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Dec 06, 2010

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man written by James Joyce is the semi-autobiographical story of main character Stephen Dedalus' journey to discover who he is. This book begins with young Dedalus attending a prestigious boarding school that in part leaves his family under financial strain. Stephen does not fit in at the boarding school and often is picked on by his peers. He is the bystander, but as he matures he begins questioning things around him trying to figure out his own beliefs and find his place in the world. Stephen goes through phases constantly refining himself and who he is while participating in activities varying from sleeping with prostitutes to becoming a fully dedicated Catholic. In the end Stephen realizes he does not wish to live his life in the way others around him do and that he does not want to commit himself to a life in any specific way, that he would rather float on freely doing as he wishes, living simply as an artist.

In each chapter Dedalus goes through a transformation changing himself and at the end of each chapter he has a realization that he has been living his life the wrong way and now wants to change his ways. An example of this is his realization that ends chapter 3, "Corpus Domini nostri. Could it be? He knelt there sinless and timid: and he would hold upon his tongue the host and God would enter his purified body.—In vitam eternam. Amen. Another life! A life of grace and virtue and happiness! It was true. It was not a dream from which he would wake. The past was past.—Corpus Domini nostri." This quote also actively portrays the style the story is written in. Through out the story is told from an interesting perspective, through the mind and thoughts of main character Stephen Dedalus. I enjoyed this style of writing because it made me feel as if I was discovering the world right alongside him. Although I often did find myself confused while reading because I had never read a book written in this style before, I enjoyed it and felt that it helped pull me in as a reader.

The plot of the story is easily relatable to many peoples lives in that we are all on a search to discover who we are and what we are meant to become, resulting in a very interesting novel that I would easily recommend to others to read. The book felt age-appropriate for high school students and above. Although the book did prove challenging to read, the story is well written and a wonderful insight into Joyce's life as the book is semi-autobiographical. I would also strongly recommend this book to anyone who has read and enjoyed other works written by Joyce.

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