What is James Joyce's definition of "epiphany?"

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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If we took Joyce's discussion in his work, "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man," then epiphany has to be a moment where one gains insight into oneself and their place in the world.  A part of the narrative structure in the life of the work's protagonist, Stephen Daedalus, is one where we see epiphany present in as many ways as possible.  Stephen undergoes epiphanies from an early age, understanding his own conception of self in relation to family, country, religion, and of love.  He understands who he is and in what he believes because of these moments of realization, when there is a lucid understanding of what one defines as value.  It is in these moments where Stephen demonstrates maturation in embracing values and a set of ideas that were previously unknown.  It is here where we best see the definition of epiphany.

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