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

Search for Kinship in Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

At the heart of James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man lies Stephen Dedalus, a sensitive young man concerned with discovering his purpose in life. Convinced that his lack of kinship or community with others is a shortcoming that he must correct, Stephen, who is modeled after Joyce, endeavors to fully realize himself by attempting to create a forced kinship with others. He tries many methods in hopes of achieving this sense of belonging, including the visiting of prostitutes and nearly joining the clergy. However, it is not until Stephen realizes, as Joyce did, that his true calling is that of the artist that he becomes free of his unrelenting, self-imposed pressure to force connections with others and embraces the fact that he, as an artist, is fully realized only when he is alone.

Stephen is painfully aware of his difficulty relating to others early on— the other boys at his first school mock him about his name and his family; his body feels “small and weak” amongst the other boys’ on the football field; he is pushed into a ditch. (Joyce, 246) Frequently, Stephen appears to mentally separate from himself and observe himself from outside Earth’s confines; he writes a progression of “himself and where he was” that reads “Stephen Dedalus…Class of Elements…Clongowes Wood College…Sallins…County Kildare…Ireland…Europe…The World…The Universe”. (Joyce, 255) Though Stephen demonstrates by this list that he is all too aware of his own self and his technical place in the universe, his need to solidify this awareness to himself reveals his uncertainties about how he relates to his surroundings.

“With a sudden movement she bowed his head…

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…dom and power of his soul, as the great artificer whose name he bore, a living thing, new and soaring and beautiful, impalpable, imperishable”. (Joyce, 433) Stephen is now fully able to create from within himself, without being dependent on others to feel whole. This is accentuated by Joyce’s description of the beach scene— “He was alone. He was unheeded, happy and near to the wild heart of life”. (Joyce, 433) Stephen the artist is alone and needs to be alone, not to search in vein for companionship that, even if attained, could only drag him from his newfound freedom. This realization of self-fulfillment and self-control is the single defining point in Stephen’s education; it is the brushstroke that completes the “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.”

Works Cited:

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. New York: New American Library, 1991.

Struggle to Cope with Death in Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night

Struggle to Cope with Death in Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night

Poetry requires more than just a verse. It must appeal to your mind and generate emotion. It should be constructed in a way that appears so simple, yet is intricate in every detail. Dylan Thomas’s poem, Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night is a brilliant poem that appears so simple, yet upon looking closer it’s complexity can be seen.

Dylan Thomas was born on October 27, 1914 in Swansea, Wales. He was educated at Swansea Grammar School. He was urged by his father to go farther in his education, however Thomas began to write. He published his first book in 1934. Thomas and his father had a very close relationship throughout his life. This is important to know while reading the poem Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night. His father was very ill for many years, and Thomas had to watch his father’s suffering. Thomas has said, “Poetry comforts and heals”. Hopefully that is what Thomas was doing when he wrote this poem.

The structure of the poem is a villanelle. The villanelle comes from the French middle ages and is composed of nineteen lines. It has five tercets and a concluding quatrain: ABA-ABA-ABA-ABA-ABA-ABAA. Two different lines are repeated. Lines one, six, twelve, and eighteen are all the same. Line three reappears in line nine fifteen and nineteen. Each tercet will conclude with an exact or very close duplication of line one or three. The final quatrain repeats line one and three. The villanelle is one of the most difficult forms of poetry to follow. Perhaps Thomas wanted to use this form to show how special his father meant to him. Dylan Thomas speaks of death throughout this poem. Death is the major theme of the vil…

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…ther should be traveling into the light, and not into the darkness. Thomas should not be scared of death, yet he questions it in most of his poetry. He is angry at death and believes that the only place with light is in this world. He may be saying that light is life. Life is happiness. Is death then age and unhappiness? The last quatrain of this Villanelle describes his father on top of the list of men facing death. Thomas curses himself for wanting his father to fight even though he sees his suffering, yet he is not ready to let go of his father. He begs his father to fight death.

This whole poem is Thomas’s struggle to cope with his father’s death. He writes the poem while his father is still alive and never shows it to him. This poem may have helped him to deal with his father’s death, and it may have taught Thomas a little about death itself.

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