Theme Of Epiphany In A Portrait Of The Artist As Young Man

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Comprehension, much like the sun, dawns upon an unsuspecting person in the midst of its own discovery, trickling into the psyche like color upon the horizon until the world is lit in some brilliant light. The sun, though, must also set, retracting its rays into itself and letting darkness fall once more over the world. In his novel, A Portrait of the Artist as Young Man, James Joyce uses the character of Stephen Daedelus to explore this very dawn and dusk of understanding through the lens of epiphanies, which offer sudden clarity into character and context, propelling the plot forward only to be forgotten within the course of pages. In the midst of one such moment, Joyce nests one epiphany within another, as Stephen’s remote interaction with the “bird girl” simultaneously convinces him to become an artist and reveals to him the nature of his own understanding, painting it as passionate but passing. In describing Stephen Daedelus’ grapple with epiphany, James Joyce illustrates the unresolvable tension between Stephen’s mind and his soul, which are only ever united in a fleeting moment that inevitably fades as his soul sinks back into submission, taking with it any cursory comprehension and leaving hollow discontent. Joyce describes the moment of epiphany as a physical and emotional spike in Stephen’s consciousness, utilizing his stream-of-consciousness narrative to saturate the text in frantic realization. Joyce’s punctuation mirrors the brimming energy of a mind inspired
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