A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

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How is epiphany used in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man?

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James Joyce makes repeated use of epiphany as a unifying device that provides internal consistency to Stephen Dedalus’s character and the novel’s structure. Stephen develops through events and sudden realizations of their significance, rather than simply existing on an even keel. The technique fits with the overall stream-of-consciousness approach that replaces conventional plotting. These insights often accompany or follow physical changes of a type that routinely symbolize transformation.

Notable among these is crossing the bridge when Stephen comes upon the Christian Brothers who are marching across. Joyce accompanies this physical crossing with a spiritual birth, as Stephen hears his soul call him, expressed as well with the metaphor of phoenix-like rebirth as he sees his soul arise from the grave.

Other epiphanies are associated with his ideas about his soul. For example, his reunion with Father Arnall not only brings memories of Clongowne but enables him to understand what his...

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