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Scaling, airbrush, cropping and other ways to transform a portrait

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  1. Introduction
  2. Catholic doctrine at Clongowes
  3. The moral confliction
  4. Existence of the chaos
  5. Conclusion
  6. Works cited

Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis. The times change, and we change in them. In Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Stephen Dedalus certainly transforms over time. At the core of this modernist novel lie issues of religion, art, aesthetic, and conversion. James Joyce brilliantly constructs this Bildungsroman using a narrator who speaks as though Stephen might, and develops alongside him giving insight into his ideological journey. This voyage carts our protagonist from a life of sin, to one of religious devotion, and ultimately to a life of art. This quasi-autobiographical religious conversion proves definitive and inevitable as Stephen becomes isolated from Catholicism and must decide where his future is taking him.

[...] His conscious leads him to a confessional in which he repents of his sins and declares, past was past.? (158) At this point in the novel several things occur. First, Stephen takes the same passion that he had invested into prostitutes and converts it into a type of spiritual drive that leads him to reject all worldly pleasures, including mortifying his sense of smell, and avoiding eye contact with women. Although this attempt to become self-depriving is remarkable, Joyce underscores it severely with a dramatic change in the prose style. [...]


[...] Despite his greatest efforts to cast off his culture, he will forever be a product of his past. Though, even with these ties Stephen describes his ideal self as necessarily isolated, so that even the greatest of these influences has little effect on him at all. The last section of the novel converts to a journal form in which Stephen records various thoughts in first person. This change in narrative perspective to that of Stephen's own voice serves many purposes. [...]

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