Throughout “A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man” Stephen Dedalus struggles in his journey in becoming from young boy into a young man. Mary Dedalus, Stephen’s mother, has a close relationship with her son. She has always been there for Stephen. A lot different with the relationship Stephen has with Simon Dedalus, his father. Stephen and hi father are distant and do not have much communication. In the beginning of the novel, Stephen is sent away to a boarding school, which is called a college. The send off to the college was an emotion and teary goodbye for Mrs. Dedalus. She gets choked up to the point where Stephen ignored the tears that were building in his mother’s eyes. Where as the goodbye between Mr. Dedalus and Stephen is more rushed with parting words that allow Stephen to know he is always welcomed home.
The lack of a true paternal difference in Stephen’s life leaves him searching for the right way he should be living. After Stephen makes what to him felt like the biggest mistake in his life he begins to search for forgiveness. He turns to god and the fathers at the college to aid or cleanse him from his sin. While feeling dirty and sorrow for what he had done Stephen realizes that he is very different form his father and he very well may be more mature than his father may be. Stephen goes to a bar with his father and witnesses his father along with to of his fathers friends go down memory lane:
Stephen watched as the three glasses being raised from the counter as his father and his two cronies drank to the memory of their past. An abyss of fortune or of temperament sundered him from them. His mind seemed older than theirs: it shone coldly on their strifes and happiness and regrets like a moon upon a younger earth. No life or youth stirred in him as it had stirred in them. (p94)
Stephen is now beginning to look down at his father knowing that he himself hasn’t fully grown into an adult. Stephen being younger than his father has never known the feeling of just being free with other men expressing their emotions. Before Joyce writes this passage Stephen’s father’s friends are mocking Stephen, by saying that Stephen wasn’t his father’s son. No one really knowing what Stephen was going through mentally. Needing to have a feeling of being cleanse but now that Stephen is seeing this man who was suppose to be his paternal guidance drunkenly ranting about his childhood erases mentally the fact that this man who he has known as his father is even alive.
Being back at the college Stephen’s masculinity continues to be challenged. Every person who he looks up to play a role in being a fatherly figure to him, all relationships with him men are condescending and give Stephen a since of being castrated. The fathers at the college scold him and he is unable to make eye contact increasing his fears and distrust with male figures. Continuing his need/want for his mother who has always made Stephen feel safe and secure.
Stephen has an original close connection with his mother and the women in his life as a child. Stephen’s relationship with his mother allows him to subconsciously from a sexual want/need for his mother as well as need her for comfort. The comfort provided by his mother is what leads Stephen into this endless search of finding his masculine side. Stephen is forced to learn his morals from his mother and Donte until he goes away to the college. While being at the college Stephen develops the wanting to fit in with the other boys at the college. After Stephen is made fun of for kissing his mother he begins to miss his mother. Stephen misses the comfort provided to him by his mother. The comfort provided to a baby by his mother’s womb.
Stephen searching for a feeling of security led him into the arms of a strumpet, Mercedes. Mercedes as well is only looking to be comforted, gave Stephen the comfort he was looking for. After find the comfort in the strumpet, he begins to look for forgiveness because of the sins he commented with her. After finding the comfort from her he begins to make women up in his mind. The women that he was making up were reflections of his mother only Stephen refused to believe that his mother had ever engaged in any of these actions. He repeats his references to the Virgin Mother when it came to his mother. Joyce writes about Stephen struggling with women in his mind to show the conflicts of interest between his original vision of women being completely pure and this new notion of thinking women is there for pleasure.
Stephen who really only wanted to have control, the control that was lacking in the world he was in. Joyce writes Stephen as a young boy searching to become a man and the elements Joyce puts in Stephen’s life makes it hard to find himself. Stephen wants to feel secure but he can’t because the only feeling of security he ever really knew was with his mother. Being away from her only forces him to search harder. His dependence on her love and emotion begin to send him into a parallel universe where he creates women mentally. The women he creates all in a sense reflect his mother, only the women he is creating aren’t trashy and they don’t move past any limits he sent fourth for women. The creation aids him in being able to keep control. Joyce begins to show that even though Stephen can’t find what he was looking for in the outside world hr did have the control he needed for the universe Joyce had created for Stephen. The control Stephen has over the women in his mind allowed him to continue not to cross the boundaries that he wouldn’t croons with his mother. Stephen felt his mother was still pure and didn’t want to imagine her in any other way.
Stephen remained thinking of his mother as being pure and to him he was in a relationship with his mother. “A dim antagonism gathered force within him and darkened his mind as a cloud against her disloyalty: and when it passed . . . he was aware dimly and without regret of a first noiseless sundering of their lives” (p. 150). This new feeling of distrust in his mother has weighted heavily on the way Stephen would perceive his mother and women now. Not only was he unable to relate to masculine figures but now he won’t be able to relate to the person he was closet to in his life. The safety and security that Stephen felt with her is now blurred in confusion. Beginning to think about past moments in their lives together, Stephen starts remembering that the life he mentally had with his mother may only be in his mind. Stephen’s mother may not be as perfect as Stephen had imagined her to be. Mary Dedalus very well may not be as pure as the Blessed Mother he has often compared her to. His perfect mother is flawed much like the way he viewed the other women he encountered while at his college weather it be physical or mentally. Due to his up bringing in his religion Stephen viewed many things simply black and white there was no gray or in-between. As Stephen strays away from the men in his life and religion because they weren’t a place he felt safe or secure.
Battling these figures weren’t easy for Stephen. He struggled to find his masculine side so he wouldn’t be seen as a lesser man while trying to uphold the morals that his mother had bring him up with made Stephen question. Stephen questioned himself and his religion. Questioning if his religion was helping him or just bringing him down. Stephen didn’t trust in the Heavenly Father as much as he didn’t believe in his real father or any other parental figures. Now with this new distrust for his mother he didn’t care much for finding the right way but finding himself. The juxtaposition that Joyce has made with the maternal and parental have leads Stephen to stray from the church as well as to be any closer to either side. Stephen began to distrust he church and didn’t want to have the feeling of restrictions as he did being in the church. The church felt like a net to him because he wasn’t able to fully express himself. Stephen only is able to express himself through art. Art was freeing to Stephen and he didn’t have to hold anything back. He didn’t have to feel sorry for the way that he wrote he was completely free. The sense of freedom that Stephen never felt before, the one he was searching for but something was always holding him back. Stephen decided that with straying away from his parents and their opposing factors in his life that he would force him to abandon the Church.
Stephen Dedalus’ conflicts within and out side him mentally is what forces him into the world of art. He is pushed as far as to no longer want to be a part of the world he only wanted to write. Stephen decides that he will isolate himself from the world and everything that was going on in his life:
Look here, Cranly, he said. You have asked me what I would do and what I would not do. I will tell you what I will do and what I will no do. I will not serve that in which I no longer believe whether it call itself my home, my fatherland or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defense the only arms I allow myself to use, silence, exile, and cunning. (p218)
Shows when Stephen has finally had it. He’s not going to live a life that he isn’t happy in. He won’t be forced into something that he didn’t believe. Art was the only way out. Everything in his life has made him choose to isolate himself and stay in his true way of self expression. Stephen is as well forgetting about his homeland, Ireland . He feels that in Ireland people restrict themselves he didn’t want to be subjected to any form of restriction. Stephen is becoming an artist which is his true self.
James Joyce writes this novel with many significant figures. A recurring imagine in the novel is his reference to the Virgin Mary. Being that Stephen is raised in a strong Catholic atmosphere, he views women originally as being pure. Stephen’s views are very basic right and wrong. He does stuff either extreme or he doesn’t do it at all. He was once comforted by women and now they are only an object of pleasure and not an object held sacred. Joyce places the young Stephen in an environment that is stable in his mind. He has no corruption in the relationship that he already has. Until Stephen is sent anyway, when Stephen goes away he begins to question if the relationships that he had before with his parents, more so his mother. Since Stephen has never really had a relationship with his father he never questioned if it was normal or not. Stephen struggles to find him self eventually leading to his complete isolation from the world and becoming an artist.
Feminine Criticism implicates that men have a very basic view of life. They work only to go to one conclusion, with one set goal. Whereas women think abstractly and may can come odorant conclusions for the same question. The way Joyce writes “A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man” he relates it to different aspects including by writing in such a way that he writes in the view of Feminism. Also by the way Joyce writes about the relationship with his mother psychoanalytic believe that at young ages boys develop a sexual want for their mother. They get aroused when there mothers have to change their diapers. The gentle feel from their mothers on their genitals subconsciously start their sexual need for women.
Stephen feels the urge to want comfort from women because the woman is his life isn’t close. The subconscious sexual urge for his mother is described through the belief by psychologist when he was a child. Stephen believes his mother is the idol women, who has never known sin and hasn’t been touched. His choice in turning to art also go along with what psychologists beliefs because people choose the books that they read by their own preferences. Stephen isn’t changing his ways truly, because Stephen is still doing the complete extreme and not what would be the simplest choice.