We can read A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man as a prequel to Ulyssess but if we reject for a while first associations then what’s left ? An intimate, inner portrait of a young man who attempts to define himself as a man and an artist. If we read it this way – then it is simply an universal story about the torments of adolescence and search for his own identity, his own voice.
Stephen Dedalus, overwhelmed by Irish God-and-Homeland tradition, is suffocating by provincionalism of late 19th-century Ireland. Ireland, living in the shadow of England, faced with poverty, also and perhaps above all else , poverty and narrowness of mind.
Stephen, shown from an early age,in the family home, a Jesuit school, in college, is trying to get rid of all the historical baggage. All these precepts to be a good son, student, to love God and country.
But a man’s country comes first. Ireland first, Stevie.You can be a poet or or a mystic after.
Stephen, layer by layer throws out inhibiting him bonds of family, religion and nation , aware that sometimes would fall , painstakingly forges his self.Chooses loneliness and voluntarily condemns himself to exile , to find that kind of life, knowledge or art, which would allow him to express himself most fully.
I do not fear to be alone or to be spurned for another or to leave whatever I have to leave. And I am not afraid to make a mistake, even a great mistake, a lifelong mistake, and perhaps as long as eternity too .