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A Portrait of Stephen Dedalus as a Young ManA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is above all a portrait of Stephen Dedalus It is through Stephen that we see his world and it is his development from sensitive child to rebellious young man that forms the plot of the novel There are many Stephens often contradictory He is fearful yet bold insecure yet proud lonely and at the same time afraid of love One Stephen is a romantic who daydreams of swashbuckling heroes and virginal heroines The other is a realist at home on Dublins most sordid streets One Stephen is too shy to kiss the young lady he yearns for The other readily turns to prostitutes to satisfy his sexual urges One is a timid outsider bullied by his classmates The other is courageous enough to confront and question authority One devoutly hopes to become a priest The other cynically rejects religion Stephen loves his mother yet eventually hurts her by rejecting her Catholic faith Taught to revere his father he cant help but see that Simon Dedalus is a drunken failure Unhappy as a perpetual outsider he lacks the warmth to engage in true friendship Have you never loved anyone his fellow student Cranly asks him I tried to love God Stephen replies It seems now I failedThe force that eventually unites these contradictory Stephens is his overwhelming desire to become an artist to create At the novels opening we see him as an infant artist who sings his song Eventually well see him expand that song into poetry and theories of art At the books end he has made art his religion and he abandons family Catholicism and country to worship it The name Joyce gave his hero underscores this aspect of his character His first name comes from St Stephen the first Christian martyr many readers have seen Stephen as a martyr to his art His last name
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