Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Evolution of the Perception of Women

In "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man", Stephan Dedalus's evolving image of the female derives from his shifting and inconsistent perspective on religion and spirituality. Whichever religious belief he holds during each adolescent phase is projected onto the female of the text and she serves as a tangible object of his abstract convictions. Sex, salvation and purity are three of Stephen's most frequent ascriptions to women. In discovering these attributes in prostitutes, the Virgin Mary and the bird-like girl Stephen exploits women as sources of spiritual elevation, religious redemption and freedom. Stephen's altering idolization of each female figure chronologically documents his progression from a conservative religious devotee to an independent and spiritually resourceful artist.

Throughout Stephen's childhood the significance of Catholicism is impressed upon him in a manner comparable to teaching a child table manners. They were fundamental edifications practiced by every Irishman devoted to the 'true' Ireland; those dedicated to the rebellion of Protestantism. Raised with religion as and an additional appendage to his body, Stephen never questioned the validity of the existence or...

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