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Selected Narrative Techniques in James Joyce's 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man'

Seminar Paper 2007 12 Pages

English - Literature, Works

Excerpt

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

2 The Sermons and Their Consequences as Mirrored in the Narrative Techniques
2.1 The Fragmentation of Narration During the Sermons and Stephen’s Reactions towards Them
2.2 Psycho-Narration After Stephen’s Confession

3 Techniques of Presenting Consciousness During the Creation of the Villanelle

4 Stephen’s Dialogue with Cranly

5 The Concluding Diary Entries

6 Conclusion

1 Introduction

In James Joyce’s novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man a variety of narrative techniques is used. In this research paper I want to explore how the use of different narrative techniques correlates with and indicates the protagonist’s development towards both an artist and an autonomous adult.

Except of the concluding diary entries, the novel is narrated by a third-person narrator who has got a limited point of view since he is focalized through Stephen. The narrator presents Stephen’s consciousness and activities in various ways; an important aspect about his narration is that he persistently adapts his style to Stephen’s idiom and mood.[1] In some passages the narrator reports almost objectively on events, however, often he renders Stephen’s consciousness, for which he uses different narrative techniques.

Since Dorrit Cohn is thought to be one of the most important researchers on the field of narrative techniques concerning the presentation of consciousness, I will base this research paper on her definitions. Cohn distinguishes three ways a third-person narrator can use for rendering a person’s consciousness: psycho-narration, narrated monologue and quoted interior monologue, all of which are used in the novel. I will focus on psycho-narration and narrated monologue since these are the techniques predominantly used. Psycho- narration is the narrator’s description of a character’s thoughts and feelings, thus, it is the most indirect way of rendering a character’s consciousness. The third-person reference and the tense of narration are maintained. The presence of a narrator is marked since a verbum dicendi is always used.[2] Narrated monologue uses the third person singular and the preterite as well; however, at the same time the syntactical structure remains that of direct discourse with exclamations, questions, repetitions, interjections and exaggerated emphases.[3] The effect of narrated monologue is to reduce as far as possible the distance between the narrator and the character existing in all third person narrations.[4] Since psycho- narration and narrated monologue use a third-person narrator and the same time span, the two techniques can alternate without perceptible transitions. As a result, the narrator can weave in and out of the character’s thoughts and the distance between narrator and character can be eliminated.[5]

In Joyce’s Portrait the alternation between report, psycho-narration and narrated monologue is used frequently. The narrator does not make any comments or judgments about Stephen; consequently, his knowledge about Stephen’s consciousness seems to coincide with what Stephen knows about himself.[6] In this research paper I want to illustrate how the use of different narrative techniques and the narrator’s presence change when Stephen grows and how these changes indicate Stephen’s development towards an artist.

The first passage to be analysed is the section in which the sermons and Stephen’s reaction towards them are given since this passage is important for Stephen development and illustrates his struggle between church and modern life.[7] Afterwards, I will focus on the last chapter of the novel when Stephen has already decided to become an artist. The passages analysed are the creation of the villanelle (pp. 182-188), the talk with his friend Cranly (pp. 201-209) and the diary entries which conclude the novel (pp. 209-213).

I will not only take into account the different narrative techniques mentioned above, but I will also illustrate how the use of different types of writing like sermons, poems and diary entries indicates Stephen’s development towards an artist and especially how the switch to diary entries in the end coincides with Stephen’s search for his own writing style. Thus, I will look at sections which are important for Stephen’s development and I will explore how both the use of narrative techniques and the use of different types of writing correlate with Stephen’s growing autonomy and artistic aim.

2 The Sermons and Their Consequences as Mirrored in the Narrative Techniques

2.1 The Fragmentation of Narration During the Sermons and Stephen’s Reactions towards Them

In the third chapter Stephen gets aware of his sins; this leads to a powerful reaction at the sermons (pp. 91-123). These sermons are presented in direct speech. The content, language and style of the sermons are very traditional and there is an intensive use of rhetorical figures. Moreover, Cixous argues that by using a completely foreign prose the awareness of Stephen is suppressed during the sermons and, consequently, hell seems to be much more autonomous and concrete.[8] Thus, the effect of the sermons is strengthened.

[...]


[1] Dorrit Cohn, Transparent Minds- Narrative Modes for Presenting Consciousness in Fiction (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1978) 30.

[2] Cohn, Transparent Minds- Narrative Modes for Presenting Consciousness in Fiction 21-46.

[3] Dorrit Cohn, “Narrated Monologue: Definition of a Fictional Style,“Comparative Literature 18 (1966), 2 Feb. 2007 <http://pao.chadwyck.co.uk/articles/displayItem.do?QueryType=articles&ResultsID=1104A4C7B6610CD5F3&filterSequence=0&ItemNumber=6&journalID=1065>.

[4] Cohn, Transparent Minds- Narrative Modes for Presenting Consciousness in Fiction 99-126.

[5] Cohn, “Narrated Monologue: Definition of a Fictional Style“ 99.

[6] Cohn, Transparent Minds- Narrative Modes for Presenting Consciousness in Fiction 31.

[7] James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, ed. Jeri Johnson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000) 91-123.

[8] Hélène Cixous, “The Style of the Troubled Conscience,” James Joyce’s “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” ed. Mark A. Wollaeger (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003) 73.

Details

Pages
12
Year
2007
ISBN (eBook)
9783640362028
ISBN (Book)
9783640362356
File size
412 KB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v130207
Institution / College
University of Münster
Grade
1,7
Tags
Selected Narrative Techniques James Joyce Portrait Artist Young

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Title: Selected Narrative Techniques in James Joyce's 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man'