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CREATING STEPHEN, THE ARTIST: Reinterpreting Joyce's Portrait through Analysis of the Narrator
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2012 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is viewed traditionally by many critics and scholars alike more or less, if not entirely, as Joyce’s autobiographical novel. The identity of the narrator and his relationship to the focalizer and the narrative text are aspects that have thus not been sufficiently examined and explored.

An analysis of the passage when Stephen clarifies to himself his relationship to words which makes possible the revelation of his calling as an artist will reveal the intimacy of the narrator and Stephen, indicating they are one and the same. But it will also disclose the structure of the narration of Portrait to be the result of Stephen’s very discovery of the meaning of words to him. And the view of Stephen as a narrator, as well as the main focalizer, turns Portrait into a work of fictional autobiography. His thoughts and contemplations monopolize the narration, granting him exclusive authority over the presentation of his story. Furthermore, the suggestion in the title of the novel that he is also the writer begs the question of reliability. Can Stephen’s story be trusted, or is Portrait a fabrication of his childhood in order to convince the world that he really was born to become an artist?

The opening and ending of the novel suggest that the narrative is not “based on a true story” of Stephen’s life but instead that it is composed in the fantasy world which Stephen withdraws into as his meagre output does not meet his expectations. Thus Stephen writes his first novel entitled A Portrait with which he hopes to achieve the fame and receive the recognition he desires. But Stephen is still a struggling artist when the narrative finishes, hence the ambiguous ending as Stephen is the novel itself, its inconclusive narrative. Stephen’s A Portrait is a glorious act of self-creation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. , 28 p.
Keyword [en]
A Portrait of the Artist, Narrator, Stephen, Self-creation, Fabrication
National Category
Languages and Literature
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-86969OAI: diva2:600240
2012-09-21, Room 824, House E, Stockholm University, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2014-01-22 Created: 2013-01-23 Last updated: 2014-01-22Bibliographically approved

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