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A Loss Of Innocence in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Essay


A Loss of Innocence

Our opinion on the world often changes drastically with time and age. In the book A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man the main character Stephens life is told from the time he was a youth to much later in his life. Stephen often has epiphanies about the world he lives in and the way he goes about living his life. Some of these instances of insight are small while some affect the very way that Stephen views himself.

He closed his eyes, surrendering himself to her, body and mind, conscious of nothing in the world but the dark pressure of her softly parting lips (Joyce 81). This quote in the book marks when Stephen has his first sexual encounter with a prostitute. This is an epiphany in his life because he begins to spend his money on worldly things to satisfy his lusts. Up until this point Stephen often dreams and lusts of other girls but at this point in the story he finally gives in to the worldly temptations. He was in another world: he had awakened from a slumber of centuries (Joyce 80).

These sins of the flesh that Stephen has partaken of gradually begin to torment him and the Virgin Mary reminds him of his sins. Eventually Stephen feels badly enough that he is driven to a priest to confess all of his sins in order to feel at peace. He clasped his hands and raised them towards the whit form, praying with his darkened eyes, praying with all his trembling body, swaying his head to and fro like a lost creature, praying with whimpering lips. Sorry! Sorry! O sorry! (Joyce 112). At this point he experiences another epiphany where he realizes that he must give up his sins and try to live a better life in order to feel accomplished and proud of himself.

Met her today point blank in Grafton Street I liked her today. A little or much? Dont know. I liked her and it seems a new feeling to me. Then, in that case, all the rest before now, in fact O, give it up, old chap! Sleep it off! (Joyce 195). At this final point in the story Stephen has given up his religious following but has not chose to return to the life that he once had before. In his meeting with this girl on Grafton Street Stephen shows that he now has self control and women no longer control and lead the way that he lives his life. Stephen has a final epiphany that he is in fact confident enough to live his own life without being led astray by distractions.

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