ASSIGNMENT 2 (MODERN NOVEL)-1 Essay

ReetuRajKashyap M .A 3rdSem ester 20186224 31stOctober,2019IrishIdentity in A PortraitoftheArtistasa YoungM an AnyreadingofA PortraitoftheArtistasaYoungM anthatreducesthenoveltoan biographicalaccountofJoyce’slifewouldfailtodojusticetothenovel.Yet, understandingJoyce’sattitudetowardsthecontentiousIrishquestioniscrucialto understandthedepictionofStephenDedalusvis-a-vistheIrishm ovem ent,asitwas unfoldinginlate19thandearly20thcenturyIreland. TheIrishm ovem entrestedupontwopillars-Celticrevivalandem phasison Catholicism ,thefaithoftheIrishm ajority.Jam esJoyce,asanindividualdidnotsubscribe tothesetwostrandsofIrishpolitics,forhedidnotbelievethem tobeadequate or im portanttoredeem Irishsociety.Thislargelyexplainshisaloofnessfrom thepolitical m ovem entsravagingthroughIreland,m ostnotablytheEasteruprisingof1916.Atthe sam etim e,hewasunhappywithcolonialrule.Buthebelievedthatm anyoftheills plaguingtheIrishsocietyareaproductofitsownrigidity.Hisselfexilethen,wasaproduct ofthishelplesssituationhewasforcedinto.ButJoycerem ainedpreoccupiedwiththe Irishquestionthroughouthislife;forhisworkswerenotm erelysetinIrelandbutalso exploredtheIrishquestionindepth.Theyare,infact,serious com m entariesonthestate ofaffairsincontem poraryIrishsociety.Inotherwords,Joyceisanythingbutindifferent towardstherealitiesofIrelandandhisexileshouldnotbeconflatedwithescapism .Kashyap1

Theaspectofidentitythatcom posesofnationalityisbyandlargeascribed, althoughbitsofitm ightundergochangeoveraperiodoftim e.

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JustasJoycerem ainedan essentiallyIrishauthordespitewritingfrom differentpartsofEurope,youngStephen Dedalus,ashem aturesintoadulthood,rem ainsanIrish,despitehisincreasing disenchantm entwithorrevulsiontothestateofIrishpoliticalandsociallife. As a youngpupilatClongowes,hetriestowritesdown“wherehewas”as“StephenDedalus/ ClassofElem ents/ClongowesW oodCollege/Sallins/CountyKildare/Ireland/Europe/ TheW orld/TheUniverse”.Thisseem inglyinnocuousincidentfrom hischildhood is revealingtotheextentthatitsignifiesIreland’sroleinStephen’slifeashesoughtto identifyandlocatehim self.HisbeingapartoftheIrishsocietyseem sinevitableand therefore,theonlyoptionleftforhim istoreconcilewithit. Growingupasachild,Stephenbecom esfam iliarwiththevariousaspectsofIrish politicallife.Inthisrespect,theChristm asdinner(thefirstwherewasallowedtobeseated withtheadults)issignificant,forhereheisapartoftheheatedexchangebetweenDante andM r.CaseyregardingParnell,theProtestantIrishpoliticianwhopushedforhom erule, buthadtoquitofficeforwhatwasregardedasanactofm oraltransgressionbythe m ainstream BritishpoliticiansaswellasIreland’sdom inantCatholicChurch.SincePortrait isaK?nstlerrom an,onecannotprivilegeaparticularsetofexperiencesoverothersforall areequallyim portantintheirownrightindevelopm entofyoungDedlaus.

Howeverifone istom apthedevelopm entofStephen’spoliticalleanings,itbecom esim portanttofocus onthisexperience.Thisconversationwasnotm erelyaboutParnell,ratheritwasaboutthe verynatureoftheIrishpeople’sstruggle-shoulditbe arigid,CatholicChurchcentred m ovem entorshouldParnell’spragm atism prevail.TheroleoftheChurchincontextofthe Irishm ovem entforselfdeterm inationwassubjecttoquestionforitseem edtohaveKashyap2

connivedwiththeEnglishpoliticianstobringParnell(andbyextension,them ovem enthe washeading)down. Throughoutthenovel,therearerepeatedallusionstoIreland’sexistenceasaBritish colony.M anyofthelandm arksdescribedaredirectlyorindirectlyassociatedwithIreland’s pastasanindependentnationorareassociatedwithIrishnationalheroesorBritish colonialism .Forinstance,thebankfrom whereStephenredeem shisawardofthirtythree poundsishousedintheerstwhileIrishParliam ent.Suchreferencesarenotaccidental;but areanattem ptbythenarratortoforegroundthepoliticalscenarioinwhichStephen develops. W hilethefirstfourchaptersofPortraittracestheinfluencesonStephenDedalus, thefifth(andfinal)portrayshisdevelopm entintoam atureandfreeindividualoutofthis scenario.ItisherethatStephenisabletoasserthisindividualityandestablishhisartistic credentials.HedevelopsandputsforwardhisideasofartasastudentofUniversity College,Dublin. HisencounterwiththeDeanisim portantforitisherethathe,drawing heavilyfrom AquinasandAristotle,expresseshisviewsonbeautyandart.Duringthis discourse,StephendisputestheDean’suseoftheword“funnel”,forinIrish thewordto describethesam e`objectis“tundish”.Thisseem inglyinsignificantexchangeforces Stephentorum inate“His(theDean’s)language,sofam iliarandsoforeign,willalwaysbe anacquiredspeech.Ihavenotm adeoraccepteditswords.M yvoiceholdsthem atbay. M ysoulfretsattheshadow offhislanguage”.Thisisaclearvindicationofthefactthat StephenisawareofthenatureofsubjugationarisingoutofBritain’sruleinIreland.He alsoreferstoDavin,whocom esfrom countrysideandwonderswhetherheisaffectedby “theterrorofsoulofastarvingIrishvillageinwhichthecurfew wasstillam ightyfear”.1 Accordingtothenarrativeof Portrait,Stephendidnothavesuchexperience.Yet,heis 1 Emphasismine.Kashyap3

abletoconjureupsuchscenariosinhism ind.Suchpoignantthoughtsindicatehiskeen awarenessofthegrim societalrealitiesproducedasaresultofBritishrule. JustbeforeheengageswithLynchonhisviewsofart,heisconfrontedbyhis fellowswhereheisconfrontedoverhisnoncom m itm enttopoliticalm ovem entsbyhis fellow students.A carefulreadingofStephen’sstanceinthisconversationwouldreveal thatheisnotnegatingtheim portanceoftheIrishtoassertthem selves.Butwhatheis dissatisfiedwithisthetrajectoryofthesem ovem ent(s);theirglaringinconsistenciesand shallowness.SincethisnovelisataleofStephen’sgrowthintoanartist,ithastobekept inm indthatdepictionofhiscapacitytothinkindependentlyisanim portantaspect.Thisis reflectedinthisepisodewherehetellsDavinthat“Irelandistheoldsow thateatsher farrow”anthatheshalltrytoflybythenetsofnationality,language,religion.Oneneedsto rewindtoafew m om entsearlierwherehestatesthat“nohonourableandsincerem an… hasgiventoyouhisyouthandhisaffectionfrom thedaysofTonetothoseofParnellbut yousoldhim totheenem yorfailedhim inneedorreviledhim foranother.Andyouinvite m etobeoneofyou.I’dseeyoudam nedfirst.” tofindjustificationforthisoutburst. Indeed,Stephenwasabletojudgeforhim selftherealityofthepeople’sm ovem entandhis posturingwasthereforenotaccidental.Rather,itwasaconsciouseffortonhispartto take awellinform edstance. Sim ilarly,hisrefusaltosignthedeclarationforuniversalpeace,whichwasbeing advocatedbyM acCannwasbasedonthesoundreasoningthatitisnotpractical.This becom esobviouswhenhequestionsDavin,whohadearliersignedthisdeclaration,asto whetherheintendstodotogetridoftheFenianhandbookcontainingm ilitaryinstructions. ThisbringsoutStephen’scapabilitytoreasonandtakem atterstotheirlogicalconclusion, whichstandsinsharpcontrastwith thoseofhispeers,whoareguidedbyinstinctive urgesandwhodonotfeeltheneedtoreflectupontheirdecisions.IndeeditishisabilitytoKashyap4

decideforhim self andchartouthisownpaththatallowshim toestablishhim selfasan artist.IthastobeunderstoodthatStephen’sartisticsensibilitiesdonotexistinisolation from hispoliticalstance.Hisdiaryentriesm akesitcleartothereaderthathisdecisionto em igratewasatoughone;forhesaw how deepthefissureswithinthesocietyranand becauseherealisedthatthereisnoeasywayoutofthissituation.Hecouldnotpossibly haveflourishedasanartistunderthedirecircum stancesIrelandwasunder.Hisdesireto transcendboundariesim poseduponm anintheguiseofnationsism orethanapleafor internationalism orcosm opolitannationalism .Stephensaw adoptionof sucha worldview thatcouldbeawayoutofthesituationintowhichIrelandwasdoom edtobein. Theem phasisona narrow Irishidentitythatplayedupitspast,andem phasizedon Catholicism asopposedtoProtestantism was,intheeyesofStephen,noantidotetothe stiflingeffectBritishrulehadonIreland’ssocial,culturalandeconom icfabric.Onthe contrary,thisinhibitstheindividual’scapacitytobehim self.W hileheacknowledgesthe lastingandirreversibleim pressionIrishsocietyhaduponhim ,hereiterateshisresolveto chartapathforhim selfwhenhetellsDavinthat“thisraceandthiscountryandthislife producedm e… Ishallexpressm yselfasIam ”.IfPortraitisindeedJoyce’sattem ptto justifyhisstandpointasanartist,histakeontheIrishquestionisequallyim portant;for theycom plim enteachother.Kashyap5

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