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The Misogyny of the Artist as a Young Man In most novels there are always certain aspects of the protagonists life that serve as the basis from which the character is motivated to create or to encounter particular events Often times these motivations are the key that the protagonist needs in order to realize their meaning in life and where their destinations lie James Joyce cleverly uses the presence and appeal of women in his novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man to allow his protagonist Stephen Dedalus to become cognizant of his role in life but not without first being subjected to manipulation and confusion Stephens stringent childhood of strict Irish Catholicism and all-male boarding schools combined with an already intuitive yet misguided aesthetic mind confront and conflict with the women who obliviously shape his emotional development Since Stephen was destined to be an artist as a child he is already hypersensitive emotionally and can be easily influenced Stephens earliest memories are when the first woman is presented to him his mother Along with his mother is his nanny Dante who are both symbolic as they ignite the development of Stephens conscience Ben-Merre 14 Both women are traditional and dogmatic in the ways of putting the divine and church before all things So it is already evident that Stephens exposure is minimized to preconceived ethnic and cultural standards 15 Mrs Dedalus represents the affectionate aspects of a women that a child desires while Dante serves as a mediator to the external aspects that Stephen will later know as Dantes preferred politics propaganda and social issues that he will reluctantly apply to himself eventually 14 Both women are nurturers for Stephen yet they are both demanding of him Stephen equates them both to religion the strong Irish Catholicism that will burden him later Henke 91 The overly powerful inhibitions that Mrs Dedalus Dante and religion impose on Stephen are reasons for
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