Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Semiotics and the Artist’s Perception in Joyce’s Proteus Episode College

After witnessing the development of the young, unsophisticated Stephen Dedalus into the skeptical and scrupulous artist that concludes James Joyce’s antecedent novel, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, his reappearance in Ulysses suggests that his intellectual journey is not yet over. His second to last diary entry depicts his mission statement in regards to artistry: “I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.”(Joyce 213) The ‘smithy of Stephen’s soul’ encapsulates his realized artistic self-consciousness, a foundation for all his work; “the uncreated conscience of his race” implies that he is catering an individual voice for the community in which he was born. Essentially, through his art, Stephen will utilize his individuality to fabricate a conscience for the populace around him. The Proteus episode documents the return of Stephen to Sandymount Beach, and the acknowledgement of his poetic vocation, as is articulated in the beginning lines:

“Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things I am here to read, seaspawn and seawrack, the nearing tide, that rusty...

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