Thursday, February 28, 2008

Hamlet Study Guide for Act 1:1 - 3:1

The first thing you should do is click this link. I created a label for all the Hamlet Videos, which you will see at the bottom of the posts. Clicking that link will do the same thing; it narrows down the content on the blog.

You have until Monday night @ 11:59 to complete this assignment. Late posts will not be accepted (since this is to also serve as a group study guide for the exam on Wednesday, March 5.) It is worth 50 points and will be graded with the open response rubric.

Choose any one of the following six passages from Hamlet and present your thoughts and observations on its significance to the play. Though your writing does not have to be as formal as it would be in an explication, you still need to present ideas with depth and evidence.

All things you can write on (though not a complete list):
  • present an explication of some lines
  • explain allusions
  • explain how Shakespeare develops symbols, images, or words (like your strand)
  • explain how Shakespeare develops characterization
  • address Hamlet's sanity
  • connect to other moments in the play (give specific evidence--this is essential for character and strand development)
  • critique the performance of the delivery of the video (least important for this particular assignment, though we'll get to this later)

You should have a mountain of writing about this play already, so I'll expect the posts to be substantial.

When you post, make sure you read what is there in the comment stream. What you write must be new: I certainly do not want a recap of things that were said in class or already posted by your peers.

Post in the comment stream of the video. Feel free to log in again and comment on theories that you like.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Portrait Model Paper # 3

Dichotomy and Pairs in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Meaghan S6
English 12 H

In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce juxtaposes elements in Stephen’s life as contrasting pairs to emphasize the division he feels within himself. These pairs include the clashes between religion and politics, love and lust, fantasy and reality, and the ultimate conflict between male and female. According to feminist thought, children learn this contrast at a very young age, when they are first learning language. When the child is fully able to recognize this distinction, it signifies that a clear differentiation has been made between the mother and the father. As he ponders these thoughts, Stephen slips into a state of confusion. Through the juxtaposition of these contrasting feelings, Joyce suggests that the intoxicating power of memory and its relationship with the current state can drastically affect the mentality of an impressionable teenager and his growth into adulthood.

In the case of Stephen,ation has been made between the mother and the father. , when they are first learning language, and thisIn the passage in Chapter 1 when Stephen recalls the boys at school stealing wine from the sacristy, Joyce contrasts Stephen’s different takes on sin and religion through the religious or “ecclesiastical” (Henke 331) mother and his departure from it. Stephen first explains that “it had been found out who had done it by the smell” (Joyce 54). The sense of smell is tied very heavily to memory, so the fact that the boys are caught by sense of smell implies that the memory of what they did is potent enough to stick with them because it essentially brought about their demise.

When Stephen next addresses the issue of sin, he declares that it “must have been a terrible sin” (Joyce 54) to “steal the flashing gold thing into which God was put on the altar” (Joyce 54). So, it is Stephen’s first instinct to see the sin in this situation, which implies he has been brought up with morals that reflect his religion. The image of flashing gold represents the power the chalice holds, as gold is normally connoted with power, authority, and masculinity. In the idea of dichotomies, religion is typically related to the feminine side, but the reverence Stephen has for the gold chalice suggests his fear of God as a paternal threat. According to psychoanalytic criticism, “a series of father figures…knock Stephen down” (Brivic 282), and God is the one that Stephen fears the most.

However, Stephen challenges this authority with curiosity and confusion. Stephen logically and innocently states that “God was not in it of course when they stole it” (Joyce 54). Though it shows that he is beginning to think more rationally, it also shows that he is starting to question the beliefs that he grew up with. Stephen also calls the boys’ actions a “terrible and strange sin” (Joyce 54) that “thrilled him” (Joyce 54). This is a sign of Stephen’s insecurities and confusion because he realizes his inner conflict between what he has been taught and what he is developing in his own mind.

Stephen further goes on to explain the memory of the smell of wine that made him “feel a little sickish” (Joyce 54). Similarly to the boys who stole the wine and were caught by the smell on their breaths, Stephen recalls his “first holy communion” (Joyce 54) when the rector “had a winy smell off [his] breath after the wine of the mass” (Joyce 54). This imagery of smell is tied strongly to one of his earliest religious memories, and in the Catholic religion, the first communion is supposed to be the “happiest day of your life” (Joyce 54). This is a childhood memory of Stephen’s, and he remembers calling it that because his family or other religious influences at school referred to it as such. Stephen also acknowledges that Napoleon said “the happiest day of my life was the day on which I made my first communion” (Joyce 55). His recognition of Napoleon’s beliefs indicates that he also sees Napoleon as a strong paternal figure. Thus, the contrast between the feminine connotation of religion and the male influence of a renowned leader like Napoleon also develops Stephen’s confusion regarding religion.

To end the passage in between the religious references, Stephen describes the connotations he has of the word wine. He says it is “beautiful” (Joyce 54) and makes him think of “dark purple because the grapes were dark purple that grew in Greece outside houses like white temples” (Joyce 54). Calling the word beautiful suggests that Stephen is starting to find an appreciation for words because beautiful has a strong tie with things that are heavenly or unable to be described in any other way. French feminists tie language to the “period of fusion between mother and child” (Henke 300) and the eventual “separation” (Henke 300) of mother and son. So, as Stephen is learning to be independent and have his own thoughts, he is forsaking what he has been brought up with, namely what his mother taught him. His appreciation for language and words is indicative of the art he wishes to pursue, and in turn, to follow his dream, he must let go if his past and start anew.

Also, drawing on the reference to Greece and using the simile to compare the houses to white temples also suggests a heavenly feeling because of how spiritual temples are. The contrast of white houses and dark purple grapes through color imagery is also indicative of Stephen’s confusion because he is battling between conflicting feelings. The white of the houses, as in religion, represents purity and the feminine, while the dark purple represents the darkness or sin that often tries to overtake the purity, as with the grapes growing over the houses. The imagery here could also relate to Stephen’s mind. A “temple” (Joyce 54) is also a part of the head typically associated with the brain, so the “grapes” (Joyce 54) represent the growing thoughts within Stephen’s mind that are overtaking the ideas he originally had.

Though Stephen is fairly young when the wine incident takes place, he cannot help but feel the struggle between boyhood and adolescence. He battles with the aforementioned religious topic, as young adults often become more quizzical and question what they have been taught. Later on, he also toils with the location in which he lives: the “political” (Henke 331) mother.

In Chapter 2, Stephen’s family is facing financial problems, so they are forced withdraw him from his school and move to Dublin. In Dublin, Stephen looks to find adventure and answers to his complex questions. He sees himself through the story The Count of Monte Cristo and imaginarily falls in love with the character Mercedes. He looks up to the character of Edmond Dantes as “his model” (Henke 322) because he sees Dantes as “an isolated hero who eventually conquers the woman he loves through a complex process of amorous sublimation” (Henke 322). Therefore, he battles with differentiating fantasy from reality because he can only picture himself the fantastic setting of Dantes’ world.

With the new territory of a new city comes a new liberty. Stephen becomes “freer” (Joyce 70) and roams the city, looking vainly for Mercedes. He makes a “skeleton map of the city in his mind” (Joyce 70) in order to trace the streets, describing his passage as “unchallenged” (Joyce 70). The word unchallenged suggests that Stephen is completely unrivaled, with no one checking his actions and the ‘skeleton’ reference indicates that he sees the area as barren, cold, and empty. This is very different to what he experiences at school, where he is constantly monitored. Now that his family has transitioned into a new home, he is able to do as he pleases, and these new privileges bring about conflict because he does not now how to handle it.

As Stephen wanders through the streets of Dublin, the “vastness and strangeness” (Joyce 70) of life hit him again. This pair of nouns reflects Stephen’s ambiguity and confusion regarding his surroundings because he looks at it in terms of its massive size, but also how foreign it appears to him; he seems very uncomfortable. He walks from “garden to garden in search of Mercedes,” (Joyce 70) passing by the “bearded policeman” (Joyce 70) and the “bales of merchandise stacked along the walls” (Joyce 70). This vivid imagery of the town shows how overwhelmed Stephen is in a new city because he was very sheltered in the small community at his school. However, as he reminisces back to his old town, he misses “the bright sky and the sun-warmed trellises of the wineshops” (Joyce 70). In this way, his very intricate memories manipulate his thoughts. The warmth given off by the shop in contrast to the cold feeling of wandering the streets alone suggests that even though he is in a new place that will bring him adventure with fantasies like Mercedes, he still dreams of the comfort of his old home. Stephen then remembers the feeling of “vague dissatisfaction” (Joyce 70) but “continued to wonder up and down day after day” (Joyce 70). Though he knows that she is not real, he still continues to sulk around looking for her, a wild figment of his imagination. The repetitive back and forth motion, which can be interpreted as a pair as well, ultimately relates to both his futile search for Mercedes and his inner conflicts over what reality really is.

As the novel progresses, Stephen is shrouded in doubt and cannot seem to grasp a single, solid feeling. He continues to struggle between the “binary pairs” (Henke 300) he encounters throughout his final years at school, especially with regards to his feelings about women. Even as the novel comes to a close in Chapter 5, Stephen continues to brood over the duality he feels in his daily life, especially with his confusion between love and lust.

In Chapter 5, Stephen develops feelings for a girl named Emma, but he is unsure of the intentions of these feelings. He experiences many lustful images of women, but believes to a degree that his feelings for Emma are stronger than that. She walks past both Stephen and Cranly, but only acknowledges Cranly. Stephen notices a “slight flush on Cranly’s cheek” (Joyce 206), which infuriates him. As a result, he “could not see” (Joyce 206). Joyce suggests that Stephen is blinded by his anger, and according to psychoanalytic criticism, “the loss of eyes is an image of castration” (Brivic 281). This moment, therefore, is indicative of Stephen’s feeling of losing his masculinity. He is unable to elicit a reaction from Emma, while Cranly is able to garner her attention. Stephen even goes as far as to call Cranly’s actions “rudeness” (Joyce 206) because he had once trusted Cranly with his “wayward confessions” (Joyce 206). Stephen is constantly let down and chastised by the male influences in his life, so Cranly’s ‘betrayal’ reminds him of when he “dismounted from a borrowed creaking bicycle to pray to God in a wood” (Joyce 206). However, “two constabularymen had come into sight round a bend” (Joyce 206) and “broken off his prayer” (Joyce 206). Stephen already sees God as a paternal threat, but men who approach him intimidate him so much that it halts him in mid-prayer. By using this comparison, Joyce juxtaposes Stephen’s fear of paternal threats that are both divine and mortal.

Stephen questions for a moment if Cranly had “heard him” (Joyce 206) but then automatically responds that “he could wait” (Joyce 206). Though the pronoun “he” is ambiguous, it is most likely referring to Cranly because Stephen incredulously questions Cranly’s intentions but automatically shifts his attention back to Emma. She “passed through the dusk” (Joyce 206) as the “air was silent…and therefore the tongues about him had ceased in their babble” (Joyce 206). It seems as though those tongues are the voices in Stephen’s mind that present him with constant struggles and conflict. Emma “provides a substitute for the mother” (Henke 334) because as previously mentioned, Stephen is enduring a struggle to remove himself from his three different mothers and has nowhere to turn in his time of need. In place of the three that he is separating himself from, Stephen is looking for a culmination of protection, strength, attraction, love, and lust, and he believes he has found it in Emma.

The conflicting voices in Stephen’s head, however, are pacified when he acknowledges the darkness. Stephen then misquotes a poem by claiming that “darkness falls from the air” (Joyce 206). The original line of poetry had “brightness” (Joyce 206) instead of darkness. Darkness and brightness, typically two opposites, do not often work interchangeably. However, Stephen replaces the word because he feels more comfortable in darkness. The brightness blinds him, as in the aforementioned paragraph, so the darkness settling in signifies that he is becoming more comfortable with his thoughts. He continues his path toward the darkness as “he walked away slowly towards the deeper shadows” (Joyce 206). Stephen can take solace there because he knows that there is no threat and he is in control.

Once Stephen reaches the darkness, however, his eyes “open from the darkness of desire” (Joyce 206). Any time the eyes open, it signifies a rebirth or reawakening, so at this point Stephen begins to see differences between himself and Cranly and how differently Emma sees both of them. Although Joyce explains that the darkness represents desire, Stephen still feels the most comfortable there because desire is all he knows. He cannot create a meaningful and lasting relationship based on emotions or feelings, so he chooses to live his desires through fantasy. Stephen, though “horrified by the realization that he has besmirched the icon of his beloved Emma by making her the object of his…fantasies,” (Henke 326) continues with his thoughts of her; he cannot resist the temptation. Stephen then “tasted the language of memory ambered wines” (Joyce 206). This implies that he is looking into his past, which has aged over time to develop into the feelings he has now.

This is further exemplified by Joyce’s juxtaposition of two different types of women. He sees “kind gentlewomen in Convent Garden wooing from their balconies” (Joyce 207) who are nuns or other types of religions women, and “poxfouled wenches of the taverns” (Joyce 207) who are women that are looked down on by society like prostitutes similar to the one he experiences. The women of the Convent are described with more delicate diction, like ‘kind,’ but the other women are referred to as ‘wenches,’ which is a word with a very strong connotation of dirtiness and impurity. According to Freudian thought, boys see “two aspects of women” (Brivic 287), one being the “virgin” (Brivic 287) and one being the “temptress” (Brivic 287). Stephen examines both types, as he can “dictate his actions” (Brivic 287) to the virginal type but can “find expression” (Brivic 287) in his fantasies of the tempting type. Unable to decide which he feels about Emma, Stephen realizes how both types of women “yield to their ravishers” (Joyce 207). In the religious women’s case, they answer to God, while the others answer to men who seek comfort in their bodies and sin. Stephen realizes that he “sees both in Emma” (Joyce 287) because he both fantasizes about her and can see himself in a relationship with her, but he continues to remain torn. Stephen’s ability at the end of the novel to make this distinction shows how he has developed into a young man, but it is this ability that tears Stephen away from women and pushes him toward his art.

Stephen’s conflicting feelings stem from the contrast between opposing forces. The Greek god Dionysis is a perfect example of this dichotomy that Stephen faces. Dionysus is the god of wine, but is also the god of intoxication. This contrast clearly represents Stephen’s situation because he is caught in between what he has been taught and what is logical, between the real world and his imagination, and between feelings of love and lust. The wine that Dionysus represents is a pure substance, as it is used in sacraments in the Catholic Church as the blood of Jesus. However, too much wine can cause a person to become drunk, and being under the influence elicits a person to think or say things they typically would not think or say otherwise, just like Stephen does when he contemplates the theft of the wine, Mercedes, and Emma. Overall, these pairs rule Stephen’s life and his decision making process because he is unable to see one side of something without another side to compare it to.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Portrait Model Paper # 2

The Artistic and Maternal Connection in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Angela S.....
English Honors Period 5

Art and language are two things in life which allows one to communicate fears and confront issues that otherwise would be unmanageable to deal with. Art and language also change and evolve with one’s growth and experience. In A Portrait if the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce suggests that the main character Stephen transitions from child to adolescent artist due to his longing and fixation with the womb and maternal figures. Stephen’s unconscious reason for becoming an artist is due to his fears of leaving the “womb” and wanting to be nurtured and comforted by his mother. Joyce suggests this by having Stephen write or recite poetry when he has fears concerning his mother. According to psychoanalytical psychologist Freud’s theory of repression Stephen uses his consciousness to discard of unconscious thoughts which are unacceptable. According to feminist critics, Stephen’s passionate unconscious thoughts about his mother cause him to feel guilty and fearful, and therefore produce art. Stephen uses his art to avoid his fears and tries to separate his desire for women and art, though they are very much connected. The following passages reveal different stages of Stephen’s evolution: during his youth when his fears are unnoticed, during his early adolescence when he actually uses poetry to ease his fears which concerns his mother, and finally, Stephen noticeably uses art in connection with the longing for the womb and his mother.

The first passage begins the first chapter. There is a quotation before the first paragraph which states, “Et ignotas animum dimittit in artes”(20) which translates to “And he applies his mind to the unknown arts.” The rest of this line, which is not written in the book, is “…and changes the law of nature”. This quotation suggests that Stephen will use his art as a way to “marry his mother”. This is act of incest is against the laws of nature and is not meant to occur. Through his writings and poetry Stephen can unconsciously access his feelings towards his mother. Also, psychoanalytic psychologist Freud believes that the artist is “one urged on by instinctive needs that are too clamorous”(Freud 314). According to Freud Stephen is an artist due to his unresolved maternal issues. The first passage begins with “Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming…down along the road…his father told him that story”(20). Stephen is a little boy in this passage and this story is read to him by his father. The male parent is “…awakening a sense of individual identity at a moment when language establishes a gap between subjective desire and self -representation”(Henke 318). Stephen’s father reads him this story and in a way opens him up to the world, which reveals to Stephen that his father has a certain level of power and authority over him. Stephen’s father than “looked at him through a glass: he had a hairy face”(20). Stephen than observes the difference between his “hairy” father and his “nicer smelling” mother. Stephen establishes a distinct difference between the paternal and maternal figures. Stephen “was baby tuckoo…he sang that song. That was his song”(20). Many feminist critics believe that, “by virtue of receiving a forename Stephen is able to enunciate himself as a subject of discourse and to gain access to narrative representation”(Henke 318). Stephen discovers for the first time, the power of words and it allows him to establish his place in the world and in a sense is the first time that he becomes independent of a parent figure, without knowing.

Stephen then reflects on song lyrics about “…the wild rose blossoms on the little green place”(20). This silly song about roses and grass is a way for Stephen to express himself and push out the unconscious fear of his paternal figure. This song allows Stephen to be a child and not be concerned with any other issues in his life. Stephen then remembers the first time he “wet the bed”(20) and the “queer smell”(20) after his mother put on an “oilsheet”(20). Stephen is now old enough and “ has passed beyond being changed , but he wants to return to it”(Brivic 280) he wants to have his mother “wipe off his parts, an action that is omitted but inevitable” (Brivic 280). Stephen unconsciously wants to be taken care of and nurtured by his mother. His mother, who had a “nicer smell than his father”… “played on the piano the sailor’s hornpipe for him to dance”(21). Stephen’s mother is clearly a nurturing female but is also “…one of the women principally responsible for introducing him to a hostile external world…”(Henke 318) which Stephen discovers later in his life. Stephen than dances and sings “Tralala lala tralala tralaladdy”(21). The nonverbal language of Stephen’s singing reveals that he is in “…the preoedipal stage, in which the child at first does not even recognize its independence from its mother” and “ is also a preverbal stage, one in which the child communicates without the medium of language…”(Lacan 268-269). As stated above Stephen is using these words and silly rhymes to unconsciously detach himself from his mother. James continues to describe another one of Stephen’s memories about his childhood.

Stephen also remembers Uncle Charles and Dante as they clapped with the music and also reflects about his neighbor Eileen. When they “were grown up he was going to marry Eileen”(21) than Stephen “hid under the table”(21) and his mother said, “O Stephen will apologise” (21). Although not clear to the reader, “Stephen is being punished for wanting to play the role of the father…the minor relationship with Eileen serves as a screen for a deeper mother love…”(Brivic 281). Dante, a maternal figure, then begins to tease him and says, “O, if not the eagles will come and pull out his eyes,”(21). Freud believes that “the loss of eyes is an image of castration, having been established by Oedipus himself”(Brivic 281). Dante is threatening him and he is now afraid of her. Also, “…the idea of castration starts to be important during the phallic or oedipal stage…the child at this stage develops a strong desire, for genital contact with the parent of the opposite gender, desire that is forced out of consciousness by the fear of castration”(Freud 281). Stephen turns this maternal threat into a rhyme, “Pull out his eyes, Apologise, Apologise, Pull out his eyes…”(21). Stephen “ …deals with his threat by turning it into poetry, focusing on the formal qualities of language…”(Helene 281). Stephen officially uses words and poetry to push out his fear of castration and not being comforted, but rather scolded by his mother and Dante. In the next passage Stephen will find a deeper connection with his art after his loss of innocence and uses poetry to avoid maternal fears and sadness.

The second passage takes place during Stephen’s adolescence. He is more experienced and has felt new emotions and desires. Stephen is at a bar with his father and some of his father’s childhood friends. Stephen watches, “as his father and his two cronies drank to the memory of their past” (94). Stephen observes his father drink and socialize, when in the first passage his father was reading him a story about a “moocow”. The innocence that Stephen use to have is gone and the relationship between him and his father is tarnished, now that he knows that his father too was once a young boy who lost his innocence. Stephen feels that “his mind seemed older than theirs…”(94) and “no life or youth stirred in him as it had stirred in them”(94). Stephen realizes that he has never had friendships or “filial piety”(94) like his father has and feels that he is older than his father and his friends. He has always been consumed with the art of writing and school and has not formed close friendships. Stephen’s “childhood was dead or lost and with it his soul capable of simple joys…” (94). Stephen has lost his innocence and the ability to love the simple things in life such as silly children’s songs and his father’s stories which brought him joy as a child.

Stephen feels like he is “drifting amid life like the barren shell of the moon” (94). Joyce compares Stephen to the moon to suggest that he is lonely and his emotions are forever changing similar to the cycle of the moon. Stephen than recites the first three lines of a poem and says, “Art thou pale for weariness/Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth,/wandering companionless…?”(95). The three verses of this poem connect with Stephen and his place in the world at this very moment. Stephen once again, similar to the first passage uses poetry as a way to escape his unconscious fears, but this time on a deeper level. He fears the power of his father and feels alone and distanced from his mother. Stephen unconsciously believes that he is closer to returning to the care of his mother but “he senses dissatisfaction and emasculation arise linked to father figure …”(Brivic 290). These three verses suggest that Stephen “is pale for weariness” because he has climbed “heaven” and gazed on the earth or rather has seen the world from a beautiful place, but now knows that the world is filled with sinful things which have caused him to lose his innocence and want to return to his mother for comfort. Stephen repeats these lines “of Shelley’s fragment”(95). This poem is titled “To the moon” and Stephen finds comfort in this poem because it is relating to the moon which represents a maternal figure. Stephen has always had his mother to care for him but now his father is drinking with friends and he is left alone. Stephen no longer is being nurtured by his mother and feels lonely without the comfort of a maternal figure. The poem’s “alternation of sad human ineffectualness with vast human cycles of activity chilled him: and he forgot his own human and ineffectual grieving”(95). This sentence reveals that this poem makes Stephen realize how lonely and purposeless human’s lives can be, yet the poem allows him to forget about his own grieving and sadness and serves as a maternal substitute. This form of art or poem takes him to a new place and allows him to forget the feelings of sadness in his life. He has now come full circle and his passion for the art of words is now realized, compared to the first passage when it had just begun. In the third passage Stephen’s ideas about women and art become noticeable and even more connected.

The last passage begins with Stephen awaking, hearing music with his soul “all dewy wet”(193). In the passage previous Stephen encounters a girl whom he is attracted to and the next day awakes in such a manner which suggests that he has had a sexual dream. It is interesting that Stephen hears music when awaking from this erotic dream because he often describes poetry and words with music. This suggests that “his ideas are dictated by his desires to build an intellectual edifice to shelter him from neurotic anxiety, an art to fulfill a maternal function”(Brivic 293). Although Stephen often argues that art does not trigger desire or a kinetic emotion, in this case it seems as though he feels the same way about art as he does about females: desirous.

Stephen “lay still, as if his soul lay amid cool waters, conscious of faint sweet music”(193). Stephen is clearly content and at peace with himself. Stephen’s “soul was waking slowly, fearing to awake wholly”(193). This quotation alludes to Stephen’s feelings of comfort and warmth of his mother’s womb. When babies are first born they cry because they are exposed to the air and are uncomfortable, and Stephen “fears” leaving this dreaming state or “womb”. Stephen than says that “The night had been enchanted”(193) and “he had known the ecstasy of seraphic life”(193). He than asks himself: “Was it an instant of enchantment only or long hours and days and years and ages?(193). These quotations also suggest that Stephen is symbolically leaving the womb due to the fact that it was night time and dark which relates with the womb. Also, the fact that he remembers this feeling from years or ages ago suggests that he remembers this feeling from when he himself was in his mother’s womb. Stephen is than struck with inspiration and says “O! In the virgin womb of the imagination the word was made flesh” and “an afterglow deepened within his spirit, whence the white flame had passed, deepening to a rose and the ardent light”(193). Stephen alludes to the Virgin Mary, the purest of all females and states that words were created within her womb, revealing that his love for words is deeply connected with his mother and her womb. He is “lured by that ardent roselike glow the choirs of the seraphim were falling from heaven”(193). He than listens to the choirs of fallen angels and states verses of poetry: “Are you not weary of ardent ways lure of the fallen seraphim? Tell no more of enchanted days” (193). In these verses Stephen is “calling on women to give up their traditional role of temptress and free themselves to face reality”(Brivic 294). Stephen wants to be able to have a normal relationship with a woman because in the past and present he is has difficulty understanding women and the role they play in his life. These “verses passed from his mind to his lips, and, murmuring them over, he felt the rhythmic movement of a villanelle pass through them”(193). Stephen once again finds a connection between his desire for art and women, more specifically feelings of the womb and his mother. Stephen continues to recite the poem: “Your eyes have set man’s heart ablaze and you have had your will of him. Are you not weary of ardent ways?”(194). The reference to eyes, according to Richard Wasson has “phallic value… throughout the novel generally being either aggressive and piercing or defeated and downcast”(Wasson 283), suggesting that woman’s intimacy and maternal characteristics have also hurt Stephen and “set his heart” on fire because he has become too dependent on them. As mentioned in the first passage, Stephen now also views his mother as “…one of the women principally responsible for introducing him to a hostile external world…”(Henke 318) and he finds it difficult to live independent from his mother. Eventually the rhythm dies away and “Above the flame the smoke of praise goes up from ocean rim to rim tell no more of enchanted days”(194).

Then Stephen’s “lips began to murmur the verses over and over again; then went on stumbling through half verses, stammering and baffled; then stopped. The heart’s cry was broken”(194). This passage reveals that after Stephen has symbolically left the womb he is somewhat agitated and uncomfortable. In order to relieve himself of his discomfort he recites the lines to himself over and over , similar to the way that a mother rocks a baby when they are crying. Stephen uses his art or rather words to substitute as a maternal figure which calms him and stops his “crying”.

In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce reveals that Stephen has transitioned from child to artist due to his fixation with maternal figures and the womb. At first Stephen is a young innocent boy who finds joy in reading stories yet as he grows older his unconscious fears related with his parental issues take control of him and he uses art to avoid these fears. As Stephen grows his art becomes more and more apart of his daily life. More experiences with women lead to more suppressed unconscious fears which lead Stephen to immerse himself completely in his art.

Portrait Model Paper # 1

Circular Concepts in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Kevin Ta...
English 12 Honors Period 5
February 6, 2008

James Joyce crafts a novel full of symbols and references in his A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in order to explore the life and tribulations of the protagonist, Stephen Dedalus. Joyce’s frequent allusions to circles, orbs, and cyclical concepts emphasize the loss of masculinity among the myriad of characters that Stephen meets during his titular bildungsroman. The fear of castration and masculine degeneration is a common phobia among most males. According to psychoanalytical thinking, the Oedipus complex, named after the Greek tragic king, “involves fear of the father (and of threatening males in general) as fully as it involves desire for the mother (and for inferior, inadequate mother substitutes)”(Murfin 271). The characters demonstrate a lack or decline in masculinity as external and internal conflicts surface, prompting an unconscious “Am I man enough?” In Stephen’s case, the magnitude of his difficulties deviate him to find comfort in a “mother substitute”. As he witnesses the experiences of these minor characters and those of his own in the novel, Stephen grows up, afraid of, yet influenced by, metaphorical castration and the paternal threats that pressure him to become a devoted Irish citizen and pious member of civilized society.

Stephen spends his early years in the halls of Clongowes, a private boarding school for boys. He is a relatively naïve, innocent, young teenager, unexposed to the harsh realities of life away from home. One day, he and his school mates congregate to discuss a recent crime committed by some students on school grounds. Although they at first believed it to be a theft of wine from the school’s sacristy, a friendly acquaintance of Stephen named Athy gives a different account of the incident:
  • – They were caught with Simon Moonan and Tusker Boyle in the square one night.
    The fellows looked at him and asked:
    – Caught?
    – What doing?
    Athy said:
    – Smugging.
    All the fellows were silent: and Athy said:
    – And that’s why. (50-51)

The boys are shocked in disbelief. “Smugging”, in this context, is defined as a mild sort of homosexual play. Even the mere thought of homosexuality was beyond sinful in such a highly religious school and especially during the late 1800s.

Previously unexposed to such racy subject matter, Stephen begins wondering about the smugging, thinking it must be a joke: “He wanted to ask somebody about it. What did that mean about the smugging in the square?”(51). He recalls Simon Moonan having “nice clothes”(51) and on “one night he had shown him a ball of creamy sweets that the fellows of the football fifteen had rolled down to him along the carpet in the middle of the refectory when he was at the door”(51). Even though Stephen finds Simon as a decent peer, the sudden revelation of his wrongdoing exhibits the defacing of his character and masculinity. The ball of creamy sweets he had shown Stephen symbolizes an orb of forbidden temptations, hinting at the offence he would carry out. The scene of the crime, the square, meaning the school’s latrine or urinal, further accentuates Simon’s castration. In attempting to satisfy his maternal desire, he and Tusker Boyle meet in the part of the building meant specifically for execratory means. By returning to the primitive requirement needed by all humans, Moonan is essentially returning to the mother’s womb, in which “we are [all] born between feces and urine”(Henke 324), suggesting an ongoing cycle. Ironically, Simon is last seen “walking by himself kicking a stone before him”(50), unlike the time before in which he advises that he and the boys return inside instead of kicking the football anymore. Having lost face and masculinity, Simon is now a social outcast, alone and vulnerable to criticism, kicking a round object that once represented the sport he enjoyed as a complete man. Feeling less of a man, Simon receives a flogging for punishment, but both his physical body and character suffer from the heinous crime.

As Stephen ages and matures, he undergoes gradual changes in mindset and lifestyle. He spends the summer at his family’s new house in Blackrock. During this time, he frequently goes out with his great uncle Charles on errands. One day, a meeting with Mike Flynn, a friend of Stephen’s father, is scheduled. According to Stephen’s father, Mike “had put some of the best runners of modern times through his hands”(66). At first, Mike sounds like the ideal macho figure, a confident track coach who favors a masculine running stance involving “[the] head high lifted, [the] knees well lifted and [the] hands held straight down by [the] sides”(66). Since Mike is a friend of Stephen’s father, an associate of uncle Charles, and an athletic trainer, the supposedly great coaching and social persona about him makes Mike an ideal paternal character.

He begins “Stephen’s run round the park”(66). The trainer then makes a few comments about Stephen’s cyclic scamper and even demonstrates by shuffling along. However, his vain efforts attract “a small ring of wonderstruck children and nursemaids…[who] gather to watch him and linger even when he and uncle Charles had sat down again and were talking athletics and politics”(66). Mike may have had an illustrious career in the past, but his proficiency has obviously declined in the years that followed. Stephen’s “run round the track in the style [he] favour[s]”(66) is fruitlessly executed, to the extent that he may as well be running in circles rather than training for real. It seems Mike’s training regimen is no longer up to par. In addition, his own laughable scuttle draws a circle of surprised onlookers who even stick around to hear his conversations with uncle Charles. The spectators form a ring around Mike, signifying his lost aptitude. His once proud manhood is diminished, despite his optimism for continuing to train potential runners. He is susceptible to and unprotected from the spectators’ possible disparagement. Regardless, a talkative husk of Mike’s former self remains as he sits down to chat with uncle Charles about athletics and politics, refuting any paternal qualities he may have had because of his passive, nonaggressive demeanor. Furthermore, Stephen doubts his trainer’s authenticity, often glanc[ing] with mistrust at his trainer’s flabby stubblecovered face, as it bent over the long stained fingers through which he rolled his cigarette, and with pity at the mild lustreless blue eyes which would look up suddenly from the task and gaze vaguely into the bluer distance while the long swollen fingers ceased their rolling and grains and fibres of tobacco fell back into the pouch. (66)

Age has apparently withered Mike’s body and masculinity, hence his comical shuffle and appearance. Stephen disapproves of his “flabby stubblecovered face” and “stained fingers”, implying his uncleanness and failure to keep a shaven face, like all men were expected to have. Still, Stephen sympathizes with Mike’s “mild lustre blue eyes”, orbs that “gaze vaguely into the bluer distance”, hinting at the trainer’s uncertainty of his career’s present and future. Although Mike continues to train people and runs himself, he has fallen a great deal in terms of his athletic and teaching abilities, denoting his unwitting castration.

Stephen is an older teenager now and leads a very strict religious life. Attending a Jesuit school, he devotes all his time to prayer and the church. The director of the school summons him to a meeting one day, where they initially exchange idle chatter about the capuchin dresses. The director mentions how they could be replaced with the more common les jupes. Smiling at his remark, Stephen contemplates the director’s reference to les jupes, which means skirts in French. Thus, the very slight mention of “the names of articles of dress worn by women or of certain soft and delicate stuffs used in their making brought always to [Stephen’s] mind a delicate and sinful perfume”(142). The French skirts startle and puzzle Stephen, as he struggles to ponder why such effeminate clothing would be worn by priests, “men who washed their bodies briskly with cold water and wore clean cold linen”(142). Stephen is clearly afraid of this possible departure from the normal, pure, masculine clothing he has always donned.

The director and the priests, the ultimate paternal figures, have summoned Stephen to speak “on a very important subject”(143). The director feels that Stephen is eligible to become a priest:

  • To receive that call, Stephen, is the greatest honour that the Almighty God can bestow upon a man. No king or emperor on this earth has the power of the priest of God. 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 spirits 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. What an awful power, Stephen! (144)

Stephen is at first excited by the prospect of priesthood, “see[ing] himself, a young and silent-mannered priest, entering a confessional swiftly, ascending the altar-steps, incensing, genuflecting, accomplishing the vague acts of the priesthood”(144). However, as he walks home, he recalls the influence the church has had on him. The devotion he once had was no longer burning as strongly, especially since “the priestly role offered to Stephen here is feminine”(Brivic 288). Moreover, it is the binding quality of priesthood that steers Stephen gradually away from religion, as “once a priest always a priest”(146). Again, such devout commitment scares Stephen, as this robs him of the masculinity that is left within him. After temporarily discarding lust, greed, and other worldly thoughts, he realizes that he must learn the “wisdom of others … among the snares of the world”(148). Stephen decidedly resolves to abandon his faith, in pursuit of another form of refuge, his embodiment of the “substitute mother”. In the process, he successfully safeguards his invaluable masculinity from the effeminate influence.

The loss of masculinity is a terrible situation for any male. It can lead to acute criticism, exile, and disillusionment. As Stephen struggles through life, discovering the mistakes of others and his own, he prevents the castration of his own masculinity, learning the errors of those he meets and ultimately, finds the maternal womb he has so longed for. Joyce employs the imagery and conceptual ideas of round shapes to help underscore the male castration, showing the decline of one’s character and masculinity.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Act1 Scene 5 Hamlet meets his father's ghost

Mel Gibson as Hamlet - Hamlet meets his father's ghost. Many lines are cut in this version, but it acts as a good summary.

Hamlet Act 1 Scene 2 Soliloquy (1996)

lines 129-159

From the Hamlet movie directed by Kenneth Branagh in 1996, this is Hamlet's 1st soliloquy.

Tom Phillips: Explicating A Humument (Step 4)

The same basic premise applies for explicating a visual image, especially in your thesis. You are trying to explain how the artist creates meaning. There is the OPTICS method posted below that we began the year with when we wrote on Brueghel. Since there are words in the image, you must also analyze them. Use the same techniques you would for poetry.

On page_ _ _ of Tom Phillips' A Humument, Phillips [active verb] that_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ by [technique and effect]_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _.

Guidelines for Posting:
  • Due Monday, February 25th, 2008
  • You should have at least 3 pages worth of writing, Times New Roman, 12pt. font, double-spaced (with extra space between paragraphs) before you post.
  • The Title of your essay should be the page number of Humument Hyperlinked. Kevin Ta.. gave a mini-lesson on how to do this, so I'll just copy his directions:

Kevin Ta 5 said...
Alright, here’s my quick mini lesson on how to hyperlink in comment boxes. Say you want to make a link like
this. All you have to do is type the following into the comment box:

<"a href=">"this"<"/a">

and get rid of the quotation marks. When you publish it, it will look like:


Replace the URL (making sure you have the http:// part) and the “this” and it’s as simple as that. Remember that the Preview button is your friend. Hope that helps.


"Helpful Hints" to enhance your descriptive powers: (Step 3)

  • Spend as much time as possible "free writing" about the image. You can always edit this down if you feel that the writing is stale or redundant. Free writing is best done with fresh eyes as a first response, and can be edited after you know the image well.
  • When describing colors, expand your vocabulary. There is no such thing as pure yellow. Maybe you mean lemon yellow or canary yellow or cadmium yellow or saffron. But stick to colors that your audience will be able to visualize. For example, I can't picture alice blue, but I can picture aqua and royal blue.
  • If the image is particularly abstract, focus on the emotions that the artist is trying to express. Do the lines create a sense of movement? Does the painting seem to speed up time, or slow it down? Ask your self creative questions and answer them.

Tom Phillips: Writing About an Image OPTIC (Step 2)

OPTIC. I find Walter Pauk’s theory quite useful when writing about an image.[1] The AP Art History Course also uses this Acronym as a successful approach to writing about visual art. I have adapted it here with further commentary and explanation in light of your specific goals.

The point of the first two steps is pure description. What does your eye notice first? Then what? Think space, color, dimension, etc...Notice what you notice. You are doing this so that explicating will be easier and better. Pick and image that you can describe with words.

  1. Overview: Conduct an Overview of the visual or graphic. I recommend an extensive brainstorming process here.

  2. Parts: Key in on the Parts of the visual by noting any elements or details that seem important. The old cliché goes “a picture is worth a thousand words”, which translates to about three pages. I think this is a good rule of thumb, but by no means a fixed rule. Describe what you see. Where do your eyes go to first? Then what? Follow the natural progress of where your eyes go. Give as much detail as possible.

  3. Title: Explain the Title (if one is present) and its relation to the piece of art. Even an “untitled piece” may tell you about the artist’s aesthetic.

  4. Interrelationships: Use the title, or your theory, and the parts of the visual as your clues to detect and specify the Interrelationships in the graphic. In other words, this is where you develop your thesis about the image and connect ideas.

  5. Conclusion: Draw a Conclusion about the piece as a whole.


[1] Pauk, Walter. How to Study in College. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997, 271.

Tom Phillips: Explicating A Humument (Step 1)

You will be explicating a page from Tom Phillips' Humument. Click the link and visit this fascinating website--you could spend days in the world he creates. There are links on the site that introduce the work and give Tom Phillips' biography. There are essays on the work and plenty of stuff to read up on. All of it will be great background knowledge. None of it will end up in your essay.

  • When you've found the page IN THE GALLERY you are going to explicate, post it in the comment section of this post to claim it. SORRY, NO REPEATS AND IT IS ON A FIRST COME, FIRST SERVE BASIS.
Due February 15th, before you leave for break.


Thursday, February 7, 2008

Kenneth Branagh's Introduction to Hamlet

Period 6 Self Assessment / Joyce Discussion

Francis Bacon's Self Portrait, on which a student wrote an excellent psychoanalytic analysis based on the myth of Oedipus for his research paper three years ago.

Before I grade you on your class discussions on the critical theory essays on Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, I would like to read your self assessment of that week--sometimes you can offer insight into my observations. I will not give you a grade until you post. Please be specific with your responses.
  1. What was your role in the small group discussions? What did you add to the group?
  2. How would you rate your performance in the large group discussion? Why?
  3. Out of all the discussions, what were the two most insightful observations that you gained from the discussion, and who made those points?


Period 5 Self Assessment / Joyce Discussion

Dali's Soft Self Portrait, on which a student wrote an excellent psychoanalytic analysis based on the myth of Narcissus for her research paper last year.

Before I grade you on your class discussions on the critical theory essays on Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, I would like to read your self assessment of that week--sometimes you can offer insight into my observations. I will not give you a grade until you post. Please be specific with your responses.

  1. What was your role in the small group discussions? What did you add to the group?
  2. How would you rate your performance in the large group discussion? Why?
  3. Out of all the discussions, what were the two most insightful observations that you gained from the discussion, and who made those points?


Monday, February 4, 2008

Vote Vote Vote

"All too Perfect"

Chuck Klosterman explains why losing would make the Patriots immortal

Chuck Klosterman is the author of several books, including "Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas ,"Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota (2001), a humorous memoir/history on the phenomenon of glam metal and "Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto" (2003). He has a best-selling collection of pop culture essays and a columnist for Esquire. He is a regular contributor to and ESPN The Magazine.