James Joyce: Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man How does the text suggest Stephen's mental language?

Essay by xymoxgrrlHigh School, 12th grade April 2004

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Having been published in 1914, Joyce's "Portrait of The Artist" is a remarkable example of the modern literary pursuits and experimental methods in prose-writing. In the beginning of the new century, more and more writers decided to say good-bye to the traditional methods of describing phenomena, and chose to gave a free flow of their emotions. Joyce was one of the great literary pioneers of the 20th century, since he was one of the first writers to use a stylistic form called "stream-of-consciousness" in a really convincing and special manner. Sream-of-consciousness is a type of writing in in which the written prose seeks to mirror the thoughts and perceptions of particular characters, instead of rendering them in an objective, external portrait. The use of run-on senteces, many times without any punctuation or break, often written in bad language or poor grammar, are all devices to reflect the innermost thoughts and feelings of the main character.

The technique of stream-of-consciousness enables the reader to get an insight into the mind of the protagonist by giving them the chance to witness all impressions and emotions without any camouflage or any additional revising.

The story of Stephen Dedalus begins with a sensual recollection of his early childhood memories. He also seems to remember floating images such as his father's face, and feelings like wetting the bed and hearing his favourite song. Since he is a small child then, it is understandable and convincing that he is unable to express himself in a coherent and complex manner, therefore the main emphasis is on the sound of words and expressions like "moocow" and "baby tuckoo". The promise of an artistically sensitive person is already visible: Stephen is captured by the mere sound of words. Even as a child, he ponders about the sound of words...