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

In James Joyce’s novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the author uses epiphany as a method of showing revelations that occur suddenly while the protagonist views ordinary objects or scenes from his own perspective. Whereas traditionally the literary device was used to show manifestations of God’s presence in the world He created, Joyce adapts the concept to include secular experiences.

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Epiphany is traditionally a manifestation of God’s presence in the world. The literary device was originally used by Christian writers and philosophers to demonstrate how people were enlightened by sudden revelations consistent with religious doctrine. Author James Joyce in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man adapted the concept of epiphany to secular rather than religious experiences.

Protagonist Stephen Daedalus is a young Irish would-be writer. His quest is to gain the knowledge and independence he desires in order to achieve his literary goals. Joyce uses the “stream-of-consciousness” technique to relate the story to his readers. The narrator is an omniscient third party who rambles randomly through the minds of the novel’s characters in order to show readers the “truth” as perceived by the protagonist. The effect allows readers to see Stephen’s thoughts as they flow from one idea to the next. This style is perfect for the use of epiphany to demonstrate when Stephen has...

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