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Essay on Convergence in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Convergence in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

As far as portraits go, James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is pretty dynamic. Stephen is constantly in motion, hurtling through life. He sees, smells, and touches everything around him. But I’d like to focus on one of the quieter moments – a moment of convergence. The narrative encloses Stephen in a cloud of his own past, present, and future as he stands in a Dublin courtyard:

He began to beat the frayed end of his ashplant against the base of the pillar. Had Cranly not heard him? Yet he could wait. The talk about him ceased for a moment: and a soft hiss fell again from a window above. But no other sound was in the air and the swallows whose flight had followed with idle eyes were sleeping. [1]

Stephen’s impatience melts as his quiet thoughts replace whatever he was about to say to Cranly. He closes his senses off to his companions, to the roosting sounds of the birds in the courtyard and the jangle of the streets. He hears only “a soft hiss”. This is the point of intersection for Stephen, and for the narrative itself. Stephen remembers a quiet moment of prayer “in a wood near Malahide” – the past. He thinks of Emma walking through the streets of Dublin leaving a trail of reverent silence. She is the now. Stephen beats an ashplant – a convenient prop for a poet – against a pillar and decides that he can wait. Darkness is falling – it’s almost tomorrow, almost the future. This moment of quiet convergence for Stephen is a point of intersection for the reader: past, present, and future meet in a dusky Dublin courtyard. Joyce incorporates several layers of his own creation into the scene – draws on his own “Epiphanies” and gives Stephen a prop to carry into Ulysses.

In chapter five of the novel, Joyce sets up this meditative moment for Stephen, has him remember a quiet moment of prayer from his past:

. . . he had dismounted from a borrowed creaking bicycle to pray to God in a wood near Malahide. He had lifted up his arms and spoken in ecstasy to the sombre nave of the trees, knowing that he stood on holy ground and in a holy hour.

A Tale of Two Cities – Breaking Gender Stereotypes and Stereotyping

Breaking Gender Stereotypes in A Tale of Two Cities

The men and the women of A Tale of Two Cites are violent, loving, cowardly, brave, and ruthless. Some people are weak and spoiled, while others are badly treated and vindictive. Many contrasts between men and women can be found within this story.

A Tale of Two Cities clearly portrays very distinct divisions in the behavior of men. The aristocrats, or upperclassmen, rule and control all of France. The members of the aristocracy never have to undergo hardships; they always have everything presented to them on a silver platter. They do whatever they want with total disregard for the peasants. On the other hand, the peasants always have to work hard for everything in life. Due to the aristocracy, the peasants are constantly starving, enough as to drink spilt wine from a filthy street (24-26). They loathe the wealthy people who have created these horrible living conditions. This drives the peasants to revolution, and the decapitation of the aristocrats via the guillotine. They have a mob mentality and kill everyone who they believe is the enemy. Neither the aristocrats nor the peasants show any compassion toward the other social class.

Some men in A Tale of Two Cities contrast greatly. Sydney Carton is a drunk who works for an unappreciative lawyer. He has no family; he is “a disappointed drudge who cares for no man on earth, and no man cares for him” (75). He is referred to as “the Jackal” who is necessary in society, but not welcomed or wanted (77). Sydney loves Lucie Manette, but he is not …

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…l of men. The oppressed male peasants join together to form a group of Jacques, or soldiers, to overthrow the aristocracy. The Jacques use The Defarge’s wine-shop as a meeting place. Throughout the story, Madame Defarge is either murdering someone or knitting. She is always “sitting in her usual place in the wine-shop, knitting away assiduously” (162). Her friends are a twisted as she. Her closest confidant is known as The Vengeance. Both Madame Defarge and the Jacques fight until the end.

In A Tale of Two Cities, all gender stereotypes are broken. Women can be ruthless murderers and men can be passive cowards. La Guillotine is the sole authority in Paris, it is fueled by a mob mentality that recognizes class distinctions, not gender.

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