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Word Count: 1,625
Masculinity and the male finding his place in society or the world play an important role in literature of this period In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man we are confronted with a depiction of masculinity at its worst Through the character of Stephen Dedalus confused and unsure of where he fits in to his society we are presented with an often uncomfortable journey of discovery and self realisation Stephens life works through many stages He leads an unsettled life and the novel takes us through many of the processes of his growing up His life can be divided in to five phases Ignorance sin religion reason and renaissance Throughout the novel Stephen constructs his life around various aspects of these phases Once he discovers sin he embraces this with everything within himself He is comforted by the fact that he can sin so much and remain seemingly undiscovered and unpunished by God No part of body or soul had been maimed but a dark peace had been established between them The chaos in which his ardour extinguished itself was a cold indifferent knowledge of himself His hypocrisy makes him feel superior He copes with his fear of God retribution and life by pushing the boundaries to their limit to see how far he can go before God pays attention to him One theme that is common in literature which addresses the idea of masculinity is the need that the male has to live in a very clearly defined world The need to live in black and white Both sin and religion give Stephen this clarity To be able to classify himself as a sinner helps him to accept himself Stephen is emotionally stunted he reacts to his inability to deal with emotional situations by living in extremes When he sleeps with prostitutes he knows that this is wrong and sinful but it makes him feel so much more accepted
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