Chapter 4_ Joyce per.6


A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce: Ch. 4

By: Rebecca Klein, Emma Kirkman-Liff, Nico Fassardi, Sean Vasquez, Meghan Lumsden, Sierra Leads, & Orla Putnam


The chapter starts out with Stephen’s religious devotions to the church and it appears that he really does want to repent for his sins. He prays for the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost in order to drive out the seven deadly sins He believes that he’ll eventually gain spiritual enlightenment and as Stephen gains spiritual knowledge, he begins to see the world as an expression of God’s love and power. When Stephen encounters any temptations of sin, he averts his senses away from them. Stephen does not seem disturbed or angered by trivial things and appears to take his devotions seriously. When the director speaks to Stephen about being a priest and the power of the keys, Stephen imagines himself as a Father to the followers. He imagines a perfect, sinless life devoted the the Almighty.

Summary (cont.)

But then Stephen starts thinking about the realities of being a priest; the ordered and passionless life it entailed. He decides that was not the life for him and instead, to be learn things for himself. He sets out on his journey to learn for himself about the world but he is still uncertain of its outcomes. When Stephen hears the elfin prelude, he remembers his refusal of being a priest and he questioned himself about it. He questioned himself about many things in order to learn something from them. As he contemplates these questions, Stephen looks upward towards the sky and he longs to fly. As the chapter progresses, Stephen goes to the sea and encounters a girl who leaves a big impression on Stephen and stirs up his emotions.

Self-Mortification & Imprisonment

In this chapter, specifically in the beginning, we see Stephen devoting his life only to God. Every single day of the week, is assigned to a different aspect of God. His past makes this fact harder since he feels his sin is too much. In order to deal with this he starts with his own version of self- mortification and imprisonment with personal punishment. He imprisons himself in the church. His time is consumed with trying not to be tempted and think lustful thoughts. His mortification helps along with his imprisonment since he tries to make his world as small as possible. He feels that everything he does will affect his eternal life in Heaven. He mortifies all his senses so that none of them help him fall into sin.

Self-Mortification & Imprisonment (cont.)

“But it was to the mortification of touch that he brought the most assiduous ingenuity of inventiveness. He never consciously changed his position in bed, sat in the most uncomfortable positions, suffered patiently every itch and pain, kept away from fire, remained on his knees all through the mass expect at the gospels, left parts of his neck and face undired so that air might sting them and, whenever he was not saying his beads, carried his arms stiffly at his sides like a runner and never in his pockets or clasped behind him” (131).

Intellectualize Religion to Benefit or Detriment

In this chapter Stephen thinks about religion constantly and tries to analyze it. He struggles with the love of God. He weighs himself down, thinking that he is insignificant in God’s grand scheme of things. Even that he is not deserving or worthy of life even if God does love him. He also realizes that in one moment all his hard work can become undone, which would be him falling into lust. His constant temptation makes him even think that he has not changed at all. At the end of the first section he asks “I have amended my life, have I not?” (133). He questions if his first confession was too hasty and made out of fear, instead of a genuine need to confess.

Intellectualize Religion to Benefit or Detriment (cont.)

Also in this chapter we see Stephen come to accept the fact that God totally and absolutely loves him no matter what. He didn’t want to be a disappointment, so at the first sign of temptation he prays to God to give him grace. He felt that God was giving him this grace as much as he was obliged. Stephen controlling his urges, the way he sees it, is solely out of God. We see Stephen become a better person by not falling into his weakness. Instead of having a moment of release and later regretting his actions, he uses self control.

Director’s Tone & Stephen’s Perception

In this chapter, Stephen really understands Father Arnall's sermons because the ideas are not only shown in Stephen's cultural background and as well as his concern with image. Father Arnall’s tone is generally serious and stern, providing a sense of stillness and importance. When Father Arnall is delivering his sermons, Stephen is struggling with the exact same issues the priest addresses. This opens Stephen up and allows him to be more perceptive of what’s around him. The strength of sinful actions and emotions as well as the fear of the punishments overwhelm Stephen. Stephen’s concerns about morality and heavenly punishment are validated and solidified when Father Arnall is speaking. For Stephen, there is a clash between his desire for freedom and his desire to meet the moral standards of his culture.

Religious Imagery

Throughout the book we have learned that Stephen pays close attention to the sensory world around him. Father Arnall's vivid imagery of being in hell appeals to his sense of sight strongly. This chapter goes into great detail when not only explaining the spiritual tortures, but the pure pain and brutality of hell. This imagery paints a moral and religious punishment for Stephen in emotional and aesthetic terms that he understands well. Father Arnall's sermons are able to resonate throughout Stephen because of the Father’s use of intense imagery and appeal to emotions.

Symbols and motifs

• • • • Water reflects Stephen’s sense of self and the status of his soul. The way he describes the water is how he is feeling at the moment; when he is confused for a moment at the beach, the only thing he seems to be able to describe is the wetness of everything. When he sees the girl he describes her as she gently stirs the water with her foot, just as she is causing as stirring in his soul. Bridges symbolize transitions; in this chapter they are mentioned in the context of Stephen’s decision to avoid leading a life in the church. Later in the chapter he passes some priests while crossing a bridge; he avoids eye contact with them, thus confirming his symbolic transition from holy life to his own life. Disorder: in the beginning, when Stephen has a more religious mindset, he was angered and irritated by anything disorderly or lacking structure. As he begins to feel more pressured about becoming a priest, he becomes more and more questioning of the “tidiness” of the position and lifestyle. Eventually, when he is on the beach, he comes to fully accept the disorder of his life and human nature. Fire: Fire symbolizes uncontrollable nature. In this chapter it’s primarily used to describe Stephen’s inner self, which is not expressed through his words but through a “flame on his cheeks”.

more symbols and motifs

• • • • Daedalus and Icarus: Towards the end of the chapter Stephen finally realizes the significance of his last name, after some schoolmates pronounce it in greek, which leaves Stephen to contemplate the meaning. He ends up relating his own life to the myth, considering himself someone who has the potential to build something new for himself and escape. Once he realizes this, he is overcome with the “ecstasy of flight”, similar to the actions of Icarus. Birds symbolize freedom for Stephen, who often longs for an escape. He goes into great detail about how the girl he encounters resembles a bird, and after his encounter with her he feels enlightened and freed. He also sees a “hawk-like man” when he realizes that he can free himself and be his own person. Flight Imagery becomes very prominent in Stephen’s mind once he makes a connection between his own life and the myth of Daedalus and Icarus. Once he realizes that he can be freed, he is overcome with joy and describes his soul as “soaring”. Flight is the epitome of freedom, bliss, and enlightenment for his soul. Soul: while in other chapters Stephen uses the heart to describe his actions and feelings, in this chapter the imagery of the soul was the most common way for Stephen’s deep inner feelings to be expressed. He is particularly concerned with the well being of his soul and other souls with regards to sin earlier on in the chapter, when he is more religiously focused. Towards the end, he uses the imagery of his soul to describe the feelings of freedom and bliss that overcome him.

even more symbols & motifs

• • • • • • Words: the repetition of words or phrases are constant throughout the book, and they usually have negative effects on Stephen (they are usually forceful or fearful in his eyes). Unlike words repeated in past chapters, however, most of these words are repeated by Stephen to himself, and are usually for emphasis. The word “fall” is repeated several times throughout a paragraph at one point in order for Stephen to contemplate his acceptance of sins. Voices often serve to anchor Stephen back to reality and away from his thoughts, especially towards the end of the chapter when he spends a lot of time thinking and analyzing the world around him. Voices of particular interest and significance to Stephen are those of his schoolmates, whose dialogue he takes note of word for word. He also holds significant meaning to the sound of someone saying, “Again! Again! Again!”, which seems imprinted in his mind.

Music is a medium through which Stephen remembers or tries to search for things- it’s associated with confusion for Stephen, used to describe things that he can’t identify, such as confusing feelings, or that he can’t remember, such as certain aspects of his past. eyes: eyes symbolize truth, often internal. destiny: stephen eventually decides not to be a priest based on an overwhelming feeling of destiny, and later confirms this feeling during his burst of feelings that all is right in the world. flowers: at the very end, Stephen describes his life as a flower, blossoming in layers.

Vision of The Girl

Stephen sees a girl on the beach and for the first time, he doesn’t appear to have any feelings of lust or temptation towards her. He describes her as beautiful and elegant, but in an innocent and almost holy way. As he describes her he directly relates her body to a bird, symbolizing a sense of freedom that he feels. Her head, however, is described as “girlish” and is her only physical feature that is described as so. Through this he doesn’t sexualize her but instead humanizes her. They meet eyes and she connects with him on a seemingly spiritual level, and he later describes her as an angel who has communicated to him the call to “live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life”- she leaves a powerful impact on him and contributes to his epiphany.

Maturity from Child to Adult

As Stephen devotes himself to living a pious life, he becomes independent and isolated as he was earlier in the novel. He is determined to remove his senses from his life, which takes great dedication and strength. However, he is realizes he is unable to control all parts of his life. He again questions the role of the church, realizing the his soul tends to chaos and he will undoubtedly sin again. His childish idea that life must run a smooth course at all times is disregarded as he grows more knowledgeable about the life he must lead. When Stephen returns home to his family, he sees the disorder and squalor his younger siblings are living in. He appreciates their innocent voices and the gap in experience between Stephen and his siblings becomes evident. He seems to revert back to his childish observations but at the same time matures, understanding himself and his aspirations. Stephen begins to realize his destiny and identity as an artist after his encounter with his schoolmates at the beach, deciding to leave his boyhood behind. From then on he becomes determined to make something of his life and find his place in the world.

Chiasmus from Ch. 2

Pockets and Important Possessions “He bestowed them in his pockets with feigned composure...the money of his prizes ran through Stephen’s fingers” (106).

“The Rosaries too which he said constantly —f or he carried his beads loose in his trousers’ pockets that he might tell them as he walked the streets” (154).

Art as an Escape “His evenings were his own; and he poured over a ragged translation of The Count of Monte Cristo. The figure of the dark avenger stood forth in his mind for whatever he had heard or divined in childhood of the strange and terrible” (72).

“The name of the fabulous artificer, he seemed to hear the noise of dim waves and to see a winged form flying above the waves and slowing climbing the air...a hawk like man flying sunward above the sea, a prophecy of the end he had been born to serve” (173-4).

Chiasmus cont.

Death and Rebirth “His childhood was dead” (104).

“His soul has arisen from the grave of boyhood” (174).

Silent Observations “His silent watchful manner had brown upon him and he took little part in the games” (78).

“His habit of quiet obedience...he doubted some statement of a master...some of their judgements had sounded a little childish in his ears” (161-162).

Priests and Smiling “Under the sudden flow of a lantern he could recognise the smiling face of a priest” (82).

“The priest's indulgent smile...Stephen smiled again in answer to the smile which he could not see on the priest’s shadowed face” (160).

Chiasmus cont.

Religious Leadership “He had the chief part, that of a farcical pedagogue. He had been cast for it on account of his stature and grave manners” (83).

“Such a boy is marked off from his companions by his piety, by the good example he shows to others...perhaps you are the boy in this college whom God designs to call to Himself” (163). Names and Identities “I am Stephen Dedalus” (101) “The reverend Stephen Dedalus” (166).

“The memory of his childhood suddenly grew dim. He tried to call forth some of it vivid moments but could not. He recalled only names” (101).

“Their piety would be like their names...He heard a confused music within him as of memories and names which he was almost conscious of but could not capture even for an instant” ( 172).

Chiasmus cont.

Relationship with his Family “When he came out on the steps he saw his family waiting for him at the first lamp. In a glance he noted that every figure of the group was familiar and ran down the steps angrily” (95).

“All that had been denied them had been freely given to him, the eldest; but the quiet glow of the evening showed him in their faces no sign of rancour” (168) Ending with Image of Women “He read the meaning of her movements in her frank uplifted eyes. It was too much for him. He closed his eyes, surrendering himself to her, body and mind” (109). “She felt his presence and the worship of his eyes her eyes turned to him in quiet sufferance of his gaze, without shame or wantonness” (176).


Stephen’s epiphany is triggered by the sight of the “winged form flying above the waves.” He tries to determine the significance of this wondering if it was “a symbol of the artist forging anew in the workshop out of the sluggish matter of the earth a new soaring impalpable and imperishable being.” Stephen enters a period of ecstasy and concludes that “this was the call of life to his soul not the dull gross voice of the world of duties and despair, not the inhuman voice that had called him to the pale service of the altar.” His epiphany is that he is destined to live a more expressive life, not one restricted by the duties of a strict religious lifestyle.

Moment of Stasis

“He felt above him the vast indifferent dome and the calm processes of the heavenly bodies; and the earth beneath him, the earth had borne him, had taken him to her breast”(177).

The moment of stasis occurs at the end of the chapter directly after Stephen sees the girl. The ecstasy and excitement that Stephen feels when he sees the girl is directly contrasted with the following silence. He ran away from the shore hoping that the “peace and silence of the evening might still the riot of his blood”(177).

Stephen’s realization that he can admire the beauty of the girl in a way that is not lustful or impure shows that he is deviating from the strict practices of religion which he conformed to earlier in the chapter.

Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost

The seven gifts of the holy ghost is an enumeration of seven spiritual gifts originating with parasitic authors and consists of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord. Four of them perfect the intellectual virtues and the other three perfect virtues of the will and appetites. *Wisdom- the capacity to love spiritual things more than material ones *Understanding- comprehend how we need to live as followers of Christ *Knowledge- understand the meaning of God *Counsel- know the difference between right and wrong *Fortitude- overcome fear and willing to take risks as follower of Christ *Piety (Reverence)- deep sense of respect for God and church *Fear of the Lord- we are aware of the glory and majesty of God

Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost (cont.)

“On each of the seven days of the week he further prayed that one of the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost might descend on his soul and drive out of it day by day the seven deadly sin’s which had defiled it in the past; and he prayed for each gift on its appointed day, confident that it would descend upon him, through it seemed strange to him at times that wisdom and understanding and knowledge were so distinct in their nature that each should be prayed for apart from the others.” (pg.154) The seven gifts become an important thing for Stephen because he realizes that it is the only way he can repent for his sins. He understand that by taking each gift separately if different days he will be able to repent for his sins. The number seven becomes the basis behind everything: seven days of the week, seven deadly sins, seven days of God creating the earth and the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost.

Victor Hugo

He was born in Besançon in 1802 and by the age of 13 had realised that he had a literary calling. He is famous worldwide as both a literary and political celebrity and he has succeeded in the difficult task of being both intellectually respectable and at the same time immensely popular, through two of his major works, 'Notre Dame de Paris' and 'Les Misérables'. During the 1820s he became one of the leading figures of the French Romantic movement.In 1841 he was elected (at the fifth attempt) to the Academie Francaise,but , Hugo turned his attention more to public and political issues, becoming a Peer of France in 1845. Following the fall of Louis Bonaparte in 1870, Hugo returned to France as a hero and again took an interest in political life during the Franco-Prussian war. He was elected to the National Assembly in 1871 and was by now a famous public and literary figure.Hugo's wish was to be buried in a pauper's coffin. While this wish was granted, he was nevertheless, on his death in 1885, voted a National Funeral by the two government assemblies. The coffin lay in state under the Arc de Triomphe and, on the 1st of June 1885, he was buried as a national hero in the Panthéon. It is estimated that at least two million people followed the funeral procession.

Victor Hugo (cont.)

He identified himself as a Catholic and professed his respect to the church when he was a youth. But as he grew up, he became increasingly anti Catholic and anti-clerical. Hugo never directly disrespected the Catholic doctrines but he did not view himself as a Catholic. He viewed himself as a Freethinker.

Victor Hugo (cont.)

“Some of the boys had then asked the priest if Victor Hugo were not the greatest French writer. The priest had answered the Victor Hugo had never written half so well when he had turned against the church as he had written when he was catholic.-But there are many eminent French critics, said the priest, who consider that even Victor Hugo, great as he certainly was, had not so pure a French style as Louis Veuillot.” (pg.162) Victor Hugo becomes an important figure to Stephen because of Victor’s role in literature and his position in the romantic movement which of huge interest to Stephen. Stephen looks to literature as an escape from the pressure of the people around him and the pressure that he puts on himself. Also, it is a way for him to escape into a world where he doesn't feel judged and he can accept himself.

The Power of the Keys

The power of the keys is an all encompassing power of the church. It can grant or refuse absolution, forgive sins, power to bind and loosen, & provides a closer connection with divine grace. It is possessed by representatives of the church. The bearer of the power of the keys possesses true spiritual insight that can help open or close the doors to heaven.

The Power of the Keys (cont.)

“No angel or archangel in heaven, no saint, not even the Blessed Virgin herself has the power of a priest of God: the power of the keys, the power to bind and to loose from sin, the power of exorcism, the power to cast out from the creatures of God the evil spirit that have power over them, the power, the authority, to make the great God of Heaven come down upon the altar and take the form of bread and wine”.

The power of the keys is a powerful thing and Stephen can imagine possessing the power and becoming a priest. Stephen fantasizes about the secret knowledge of the keys and how he will lead a sinless life. When Stephen looks into the director’s eyes and sees a “mirthless reflection of the sunken day” he realized the reality of priesthood isn’t what he had envisioned it to be. Stephen remembers that people in power and have authority aren’t always just in their decisions (rector in ch.1) and that having power isn’t all that’s cracked up to be. The reality of life is depicted in ch.4 as it was in ch.2 (poverty).

Stéphane Mallarmé

Debussy composed the piece based on the poem “L'Après-midi d'un Faune ("The Afternoon of a Faun") by Stéphane Mallarmé. The poem uses symbols and images to express a mood, rather than tell a story. It’s also between a stage of consciousness and dreaming. In his poem, Mallarmé wrote about a faun who’s in the woods, near a river, surrounded by marshes. He dreams about nymphs (real or not) but in his dreams, there are also figments of his memories that he can’t grasp. There is an overall veil of vagueness that surrounds the faun’s daydream.

Claude Debussy & Elfin Prelude

Claude Debussy composed Prelude to the Afternoon of the Faun (a.k.a. the Elfin Prelude). The piece captures the theme and essence of the poem written by Mallarmé. The melody starts out calm and then transitions to be more and more intense & finally ends in a serene and peaceful note. The music does not have a stable metric pattern and there is no definitive direction; it is completely unpredictable and reflects the unrestrained nature of the faun’s dream.

Claude Debussy & Elfin Prelude (Cont.)

“It seems to him that he heard notes of fitful music leaping upwards a tone and downwards a diminished fourth, triple-branching flames leaping fitfully, flame after flame, out of a midnight wood. It was an elfin prelude, endless and formless; and, as it grew wilder and faster, the flames leaping out of time, he seems to hear from under the boughs and grasses wild creatures racing, their feet pattering like rain upon the leaves”.

Stephen is still inconsistent with his emotions and the music represents Stephen’s struggle to find himself. When he was a boy, he followed along the path that he was supposed to go but as he grows up, he’s starting to question the path. He’s struggling within himself between what his instincts tell him to do and what he is supposed to do. His emotions, like the music, is starting to become more and more intense and it’s sometimes unpredictable.

Q1: How is ch. 4 similar to ch. 2?

• • • Female Moon Lust “Such moments passed and the wasting fires of lust sprang up again” (ch. 2) “He had felt a subtle, dark, and murmurous presence penetrate his being and fire him with a brief iniquitous lust” (ch. 4) • Sin • • Romanticism Strong emotional drive Drive to sin (ch. 2); Drive to be free-flight(ch. 4)

Q2:Why does Stephen question his initial confession?

Even after his confession he still fills the pull of temptation. The guilt of the constant circle of sinning and confessing gets to him and he wonders what his first confession really was.


Why is literature, once again, important to Stephen?

Literature becomes an important part of his life due his ability to escape from the pressures of his everyday life. Also, he is able to escape from the pressures of the people around him and the pressures that he puts on himself. An example is his personal connection between him and Victor Hugo.

Q4: What are two reasons why Stephen decides to not become a priest?

• •

the life of a priest is too orderly, tidy, and neatly laid out for Stephen- by the end order makes him uncomfortable. he doesn’t feel as if it’s his “destiny” to become a priest and he is afraid of its permanence.

Q5: Why is Stephen’s analysis of his name important to his epiphany?

Stephen connects his name to the skilled craftsman, Daedalus, who built wings to escape the labyrinth. He then realizes that he is destined to create something of his own and leave behind his boyhood.