Discuss the themes of escape in Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Stephen can only understand his own sense of self through the idea of escape in the narrative.  Simply put, Ireland is a land that is filled with more of "yesterdays" than tomorrows for Stephen.  His evolution and arc of development takes full shape when the reality of his escape from Ireland is evident.  This is not the type of escape from political repression or religious persecution.  Yet, it is a type of escape all the same.  Stephen must escape the world around him in order to fully develop his "non serviam credo" and the idea of him being the author of his own narrative.  This vision of the artist is one that convinces him to believe in the end that escape is the only path in order to develop Stephen's own artistic sensibilities and sense of identity:

Old father, old artificer- Stand me now and ever in good stead.

The notion in these closing words is that escape is needed and in order for one to embrace their own true sense of self there has to be a point of liberation from what was and what is into what can be or what should be.  In this, the theme of escape is something that becomes evident in Stephen's consciousness and critical to helping him embrace his true identity as the artist.

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