Maturity in Portrait of the Artist and Dubliners

As I read the selections from A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, there were several instances where I was reminded of characters from Dubliners. Most notably, I made comparisons between the maturing Stephen Dedalus and the younger but still maturing boy in “Araby.” In this selection of Portrait, we are shown Stephen’s first sexual encounter, and the build-up of lust and desire he felt prior to that experience. In “Araby,” we see a young boy, younger than Stephen, experiencing his first sexual feelings. Based on what we see of Stephen, I think it is likely that he would have had a similar time when he first had those feelings, as he tried to make sense of them.

Stephen’s “blood was in revolt” (94) because of his desire. The boy in “Araby” says that the very name of the girl he has begun to notice “was like a summons to al [his] foolish blood” (20). Stephen’s desire has been building up, “but he cared little that he was in mortal sin” (93). These desires divide him from his family, and from those around him. Although the boy in “Araby” does not understand his feelings yet as Stephen does, nor have they reached the same point, he obsesses over the girl, to the point where he is divided from everyone and everything else in his life.  It all became less important and annoying, because “it stood between [him] and [his] desire” (22). This seemed to be a pattern in both works, and so I wonder if this is something that Joyce sees as a theme of maturity.

A major difference I saw between the two stories was that the boy in “Araby” thinks of himself on a knightly quest to win the hand of the girl he thinks he loves. Stephen, on the other hand, expresses no such attitude in this selection. I wonder if perhaps because he is older, he has already experienced the same disillusionment that the boy experiences at the end of “Araby,” and what we see of Stephen is something that is coming in the future for the boy as he continues to mature. In any case, I think Joyce was very interested in first sexual feelings and experiences, as well as growing up and maturing, and I think we are given very vivid pictures of what that meant to the characters in Portrait and Dubliners. 

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One thought on “Maturity in Portrait of the Artist and Dubliners

  1. Will Boogert

    I think the image of the boy being on a knightly quest is an interesting one. Somehow he thinks of himself as more noble and superior to the other boys his age. I wonder where this sense of superiority comes from, especially since both the Araby narrator and Stephen Dedalus seem to have a fairly severe lack of self-confidence.

    Reply

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