Literary devices used in "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man"

Essay by KristenphotoUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, March 2003

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Joyce has used the name Daedalus as a literary vehicle to give the reader a sense of deeper understanding about Stephen as a character in "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man ". There is a link between Stephen Dedalus and the Greek mythological figure Daedalus and this becomes apparent to Stephen when he hears his friends say his name in Greek. When Stephen compares himself to the "fabulous artificer" their similar plight reveals itself. The correlation between Stephen's need to escape Ireland to write, parallels Daedalus's escape through flight from Crete.

Through the correlation between Stephen and Icarus, Joyce was referencing the overconfidence and pride that both Stephen and Icarus had. It is apparent that Stephen is proud yet pretentious especially when conversing with his friends who he feels he has outgrown mentally. Icarus fell to his death because of his overconfidence and pride. This demonstrates Stephen's willingness to take risks to realize his destiny even if it includes failures.

Stephen compares himself to Lucifer in chapter four saying, "The snares of the world were its ways of sin. He would fall. He had not fallen yet but he would fall silently and in an instant." Lucifer fell from heaven because of his pride saying, "I will not serve". Stephen also full of pride in himself refuses to honor or serve his family, church and his country. This defiance in Stephen demonstrates his strong will to do what he wants with his life.

Joyce has used birds as a literary device in "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" to develop themes and evoke a visual image for the reader. Birds are usually associated with freedom and flight, yet the earliest mention of birds is related to punishment. Dante's threat that eagles...