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

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man book cover
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In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, how does the woman Stephen meets in the Ballyhoura Hills differ from the various models of Irish women that Stephen eventually rejects? According to Marian Eide, the woman Stephen meets in the Ballyhoura Hills offers "a troubling yet auspicious alternative view of the nation he is writing for and about."

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In The Woman of the Ballyhoura Hills: James Joyce and the Politics of Creativity, Marian Eide makes the argument that Stephen Dedalus in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is continuously trying to symbolize Ireland as a nation with the women he meets throughout the course of the novel. Eide makes the argument that this becomes inherently problematic simply due to the fact that Stephen is unable to see women as their own autonomous figures, separate from his preconceived definitions.

For example, at the end of chapter 5, Stephen is completely unable to understand the dynamics and complexity of the woman he meets in the Ballyhoura Hills. Through his inability to understand her, Stephen loses his ability to understand his nation and his own development. Continuous throughout A Portrait is Stephen's dichotomous notion of morality. His belief is that responsibility equals repression, and irresponsibility is equal to sexual liberation. The woman he ultimately meets in the Ballyhoura Hills...

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