A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which in its definitive form initiates the second cycle, was some ten years in the writing. A 1,000-page first draft was written around 1904-1906, about the same time as the bulk of Dubliners. This was scrapped and a more compressed version undertaken in 1908. the third and final text was being composed in 1911 and was finished early in 1914. [Gorman, James Joyce, NY: Farrar & Rinehart , V-iii, VII-i VII-iii, VII-vi; Theodore Spencer, Introduction, Stephen Hero.] About one-third of the first draft (the Stephen Hero fragment) survives to show us what was going on during the gestation of this book, the only one which it cost Joyce far more trouble to focus than to execute.
Joyce first conceived the story of Stephen Dedalus in a picaresque mode. The original title was meant to incorporate the ballad of Turpin Hero, a reference to which still survives in the final text P252/244. Turpin spends most of the ballad achieving gestes at the expense of a gallery of middle-class dummies beginning with a lawyer:
The lawyers mistake was to admit the plausible stranger to his intimacy. Stephen in the same way achieves a series of dialectical triumphs over priests, parents, and schoolfellows. The typical dialogue commences amid courtesies:
Stephen raised his cap and said Good evening, sir. The President answered with the smile which a pretty girl gives when she receives some compliment which puzzles her - a winning&lrquo; smile:
But cut-and-thrust soon follows:
Stephen always relieves the interlocutor of his complacence:
The ballad ends with Turpin in jail condemned to the gallows; Stephen Hero was presumably to end, as the Portrait does, with Stephen Protomartyr on the brink of continental exile, acknowledged enemy of the Dublin people. This Stephen is an engaging fellow with an explosive laugh, S59/49, an image of the young Joyce whom Yeats compared to William Morris for the joyous vitality one felt in him or of the student Joyce who emerges from his brothers Memoir:
When Stephens uncompromising side occasionally becomes absurd, Joyce the recorder is always at hand to supply a distancing phrase: the fiery-hearted revolutionary; this heaven-ascending essayist S80/67; he was foolish enough to regret having yielded to the impulse for sympathy from a friend, S83/70. Toward the end of the existing fragment we find more and more of these excusing clauses: No young man can contemplate the fact of death with extreme satisfaction and no young man, specialised by fate or her stepsister chance for an organ of sensitiveness and intellectiveness, can contemplate the network of falsities and trivialities which make up the funeral of a dead burgher without extreme disgust. S168/150. This clumsy sentence, its tone slithering between detachment, irony, and anger, is typical of the bad writing which recurs in the Stephen Hero fragment to signal Joyces periodic uncertainty of Stephens convincingness.
The book ran down unfinished in 1906, stalled partly by its own inner contradictions, partly by the far maturer achievement of Dubliners. It had never, Joyce saw, had a theme; it was neither a novel, nor an autobiography, nor a spiritual or social meditation. It contained three sorts of materials that would not fuse: documentation from the past, transcribed from the Dublin notebooks; Joyces memories of his earlier self, transmuted by a mythopoeic process only partly controlled; and his present complex attitude to what he thought that self to have been.
Fortunately, the catalytic theme was not long in coming. In the late fall of 1906, he wrote from Rome to his brother about a new story for Dubliners, Ulysses. On February 6, 1907, he admitted that it never got any forrarder than the title. It coalesced, instead, with the autobiographical theme, and both subjects were returned to the smithy. A novel, Ulysses, as Joyce told a Zurich student ten years later, began to be planned as sequel to a rewritten Portrait. In 1908 Stephen Hero was discarded for good, and the job of lining up the two works began. And once the final balance of motifs for the Portrait  had been at last struck and the writing of the definitive text completed, the last exorcism, Exiles, took only three spring months. Ulysses and Finnegans Wake took seven and seventeen years, but their recalcitrance was technical merely. The Portrait includes their scenario: first the earth that had borne him and the vast indifferent dome (Penelope, Ithaca), then sleep and a plunge into some new world, fantastic, dim, uncertain as under sea, traversed by cloudy shapes and beings, P200/196. These are lyric anticipations of the dense epic and dramatic works to come; the actual writing of those works went forward during the next quarter-century with scarcely a false step.
This new primrose path is a private Jacobs, ladder let down to his bed now that he is too weary to do anything but go to heaven.
To make epic and drama emerge naturally from the intrinsic stresses and distortions of the lyric material meant completely new lyric techniques for a constation exact beyond irony. The Portrait concentrates on stating themes, arranging apparently transparent words into configurations of the utmost symbolic density. Here is the director proposing that Stephen enter the priesthood:
The looped cord, the shadow, the skull, none of these is accidental. The waning daylight, twice emphasized, conveys that denial of nature which the priests office represented for Stephen; his back to the light co-operates toward a similar effect. So crossblind: blind to the cross [Quotes Stephen Hero : 'hypocrites . they dont believe in him; they dont observe his precepts, S141/124]; blinded by the cross. The curves of the skull introduces another death-image; the deathbone from Lévy-Bruhls Australia, pointed by Shaun in Finnegans Wake, F193, is the dramatic version of an identical symbol. But the central image, the epiphany of the interview, is contained in the movement of the priests fingers: slowly dangling and looping the cord of the other blind. That is to say, coolly proffering a noose. This is the lyric mode of Ulysses epical hangman, The lord of things as they are whom the most Roman of Catholics call dio boia, hangman god , U210/201.
The Contrapuntal Opening
This evocation of holes in oblivion is conducted in the mode of each of the five senses in turn; hearing (the story of the moocow), sight (his fathers face), taste (lemon platt), touch (warm and cold), smell (the oil-sheet). The audible soothes: the visible disturbs. Throughout Joyces work, the senses are symbolically disposed. Smell is the means of discriminating empirical realities (His mother had a nicer smell than his father, is the next sentence), sight corresponds to the phantasms of oppression, hearing to the imaginative life. Touch and taste together are the modes of sex. Hearing, here, comes first, via a piece of imaginative literature. But as we can see from the vantage-point of Finnegans Wake, the whole book is about the encounter of baby tuckoo with the moocow: the Gripes with the mookse. [Compare the opening sentence: Eins within a space, and a wearywide space it wast, ere wohned a Mookse, F152. Mookse is moocow plus fox plus mock turtle. The German Eins evokes Einstein, who presides over the interchanging of space and time; space is the Mookses spatialty.] The father with the hairy face is the first Mookse-avatar, the Freudian infantile analogue of God the Father. 
In the Wake
Der Erzherr (arch-lord), here a Teutonic junker, is the God who visited his wrath on Lucifer; the hairy attribute comes through via the music-hall refrain, Theres hair, like wire, coming out of the Empire.
Dawning consciousness of his own identity (He was baby tuckoo) leads to artistic performance (He sang that song. That was his song.) This is hugely expanded in chapter IV:
By changing the red rose to a green and dislocating the spelling, he makes the song his own (But you could not have a green rose. But perhaps somewhere in the world you could. P8/I3)
Between this innocence and its Rimbaudian recapture through the purgation of the Wake there is to intervene the hallucination in Circes sty:
This is foreshadowed as the overture to the Portrait closes:
The eagles, eagles of Rome, are emissaries of the God with the hairy face: the punisher. They evoke Prometheus and gnawing guilt: again-bite. So the overture ends with Stephen hiding under the table awaiting the eagles. He is hiding under something most of the time: bedclothes, the enigma of a manner, an indurated rhetoric, or some other carapace of his private world.
Not only is the Deans English a conquerors tongue; since the loss of Adams words which perfectly mirrored things, all, language has conquered the mind and imposed its own order, askew from the order of creation. Words, like the physical world, are imposed on Stephen from without, and it is in their., canted mirrors that he glimpses a physical and moral world already dyed the colour of his own mind since absorbed, with language, into his personality. 
Language is a Trojan horse by which the universe gets into the mind. The first sentence in the book isnt something Stephen sees but a story he is told, and the overture climaxes in an insistent brainless rhyme, its jingle corrosively fascinating to the will. It has power to terrify a child who knows nothing of eagles, or of Prometheus, or of how his own grown-up failure to apologise will blend with gathering blindness.
It typifies the peculiar achievement of the Portrait that Joyce can cause patterns of words to make up the very moral texture of Stephens mind:
Suck joins two contexts in Stephens mind: a playful sinner toying with his indulgent superior, and the disappearance of dirty water. The force of the conjunction is felt only after Stephen has lost his sense of the reality of the forgiveness of sins in the confessional. The habitually orthodox penitent tangles with a God who pretends to be angry; after a reconciliation the process is repeated. And the mark of that kind of play is disgraceful servility. Each time the sin disappears, the sinner is mocked by an impersonal voice out of nature: Suck!
This attitude to unreal good and evil furnishes a context for the next conjunction: whiteness and coldness. Stephen finds himself, like Simon Moonan, [Ftn. here remarks that 'Joyces names should be scrutinised . &c.] engaged in the rhythm of  obedience to irrational authority, bending his mind to a meaningless act, the arithmetic contest. He is being obediently good. And the appropriate colour is adduced: He thought his face must be white because it felt so cool.
The pallor of lunar obedient goodness is next associated with damp repulsiveness: the limpness of a wet blanket and of a servants apron:
Throughout the first chapter an intrinsic linkage, white-cold-damp-obedient, insinuates itself repeatedly. Stephen after saying his prayers, his shoulders shaking, so that he might not go to hell when he died, curled himself together under the cold white sheets, shaking and trembling. But he would not go to hell when he died, and the shaking would stop. P16/20. The sea, mysterious as the terrible power of God, (was cold day and night, but it was colder at night, P14/I9; we are reminded of Anna Livias gesture of submission: my cold father, my cold mad father, my cold mad feary father, F628. There was a cold night smell in the chapel. But it was a holy smell, P14/19. Stephen is puzzled by the phrase in the Litany of the Blessed Virgin: Tower of Ivory. How could a woman be a tower of ivory or a house of gold? He ponders until the revelation comes:
This instant of insight depends on a sudden reshuffling of, associations, a sudden conviction that the Mother of God, and the symbols appropriate to her, belong with the cold, the white, and the unpleasant in a blindfold morality of obedience. Contemplation focussed on language is repaid:
The white-damp-obedient association reappears when  Stephen is about to make his confession after the celebrated retreat; its patterns provide the language in which he thinks. Sin has been associated with fire, while the prayers of the penitents are epiphanized as soft whispering cloudlets, soft whispering vapour, whispering and vanishing. P164/163. And having been absolved:
The boys were all there, kneeling in their places. He knelt among them, happy and shy. The altar was heaped with fragrant masses of white flowers: and in the morning light the pale flames of the candles among the white flowers were clear and silent as his own soul. P168/166.
We cannot read Finnegans Wake until we have realized the significance of the way the mind of Stephen Dedalus is bound in by language. He is not only an artist: he is a Dubliner.
The Portrait as Lyric
The emotional quality of this is continuous with that of the Count of Monte Cristo, that fantasy of the exile returned for vengeance (the plot of the Odyssey) which kindled so many of Stephens boyhood dreams:
The prose surrounding Stephens flight is empurpled with transfers and paper flowers too. It is not immature prose, as we might suppose by comparison with Ulysses. The prose of The Dead is mature prose, and The Dead was written in 1908. Rather, it is a meticulous pastiche of immaturity. Joyce has his eye constantly on the epic sequel.
As the vaginal imagery of gates, secret places, and darkness implies, this is the dream that reaches temporary fulfilment in the plunge into profane love, P113/114. But the ultimate (secret place is to be Mabbot Street, outside Bella Cohens brothel; the unsubstantial image of his quest, that of Leopold Bloom, advertisement canvasser-Monte Cristo, returned avenger, Ulysses; and the transfiguration, into the phantasmal dead son of a sentimental Jew:
That Dedalus the artificer did violence to nature is the point of the epigraph from Ovid, Et ignotas animum dimittit in artes; the Icarian fall is inevitable.
Stephen does not, as the careless reader may suppose, become an artist by rejecting church and country. Stephen does not become an artist at all. Country, church, and mission are an inextricable unity, and in rejecting the two that seem to hamper him, he rejects also the one on which he has set his heart. Improving the work of nature is his obvious ambition (But you could not have a green rose. But perhaps somewhere in the world you could) and it logically follows from the aesthetic he expounds to Lynch. It is a neo-platonic aesthetic; the crucial principle of epiphanization has been withdrawn. He imagines that the loveliness that has not yet come into the world, P297/286, is to be found in his own soul. The earth is gross, and what it brings forth is cowdung; sound and shape and colour are the prison gates of our soul; and beauty is something mysteriously gestated within. The genuine artist reads signatures, the fake artist forges them, a process adumbrated in the obsession of Shem the Penman (from Jim the Penman, a forgotten drama about a forger) with Macfearsomes Ossean, the most famous of literary forgeries, studying how cutely to copy all their various styles of signature so as one day to utter an epical forged cheque on the public for his own private profit. F181.
One can sense all this in the first four chapters of the Portrait, and Ulysses is unequivocal:
The Stephen of the end of the fourth chapter, however, is still unstable; he had to be brought into a final balance, and shown at some length as a being whose development was virtually ended. Unfortunately, the last chapter makes the book a peculiarly difficult one for the reader to focus, because Joyce had to close it on a suspended chord. As a lyric, it is finished in its own terms; but the themes of the last forty pages, though they give the illusion of focussing, dont really focus until we have read well into Ulysses. The final chapter, which in respect to the juggernaut of Ulysses must be a vulnerable flank, in respect to what has gone before must be a conclusion.
This problem Joyce didnt wholly solve; there remains a moral ambiguity (how seriously are we to take Stephen?) which makes the last forty pages painful reading.
Not that Stephen would stand indefinitely if Ulysses didnt  topple him over; his equilibrium in Chapter V, though good enough to give him a sense of unusual integrity in University College, is precarious unless he can manage, in the manner of so many permanent undergraduates, to prolong the college context for the rest of his life. Each of the preceding chapters, in fact, works toward an equilibrium which is dashed when in the next chapter Stephens world becomes larger and the frame of reference more complex. The terms of equilibrium are always stated with disquieting accuracy; at the end of Chapter 1 we find:
And at the end of Chapter III:
Not irony but simply the truth: the good life conceived in terms of white pudding and sausages is unstable enough to need no underlining.
The even-numbered chapters make a sequence of a different sort. The ending of IV, Stephens panting submission to an artistic vocation:
- hasnt quite the finality often read into it when the explicit parallel with the ending of II is perceived:
When we link these passages with the fact that the one piece of literary composition Stephen actually achieves in the book comes out of a wet dream (Towards dawn he awoke. O what sweet music! His soul was all dewy wet, P254) we are in a position to see that the concluding Welcome, O life! has an air of finality and balance only because the diary-form of the last seven pages disarms us with an illusion of auctorial impartiality.
Controlling Images: Clongowes and Belvedere
In chapter I the controlling emotion is fear, and the dominant image Father Dolan and his pandybat; this, associated with the hangman-god and the priestly denial of the senses, was to become one of Joyces standard images for Irish clericalism hence the jack-in-the-box appearance of Father Dolan in Circes nightmare imbroglio, his pandybat cracking twice like thunder, U547/531. Stephens comment, in the mode of Blakes repudiation of the God who slaughtered Jesus, emphasizes the inclusiveness of the image: I never could read His handwriting except His criminal thumbprint on the haddock.
Chapter II opens with a triple image of Dublins prepossessions: music, sport, religion. The first is exhibited via Uncle Charles singing sentimental ballads in the outhouse; the second via Stephens ritual run around the park under the eye of a superannuated trainer, which his uncle enjoins on him as  the whole duty of a Dubliner; the third via the clumsy piety of Uncle Charles, kneeling on a red handkerchief and reading above his breath from a thumb-blackened prayerbook wherein catchwords were printed at the foot of every page. P67/69. This trinity of themes is unwound and entwined throughout the chapter, like a net woven round Stephen; it underlies the central incident, the Whitsuntide play in the Belvedere chapel (religion), which opens with a display by the dumb-bell team (sport) preluded by sentimental waltzes from the soldiers band (music).
While he is waiting to play his part, Stephen is taunted by fellow-students, who rally him on a fancied love-affair and smiting his calf with a cane bid him recite the Confiteor. His mind goes back to an analogous incident, when a similar punishment had been visited on his refusal to admit that Byron was no good. The further analogy with Father Dolan is obvious; love, art, and personal independence are thus united in an ideogram of the prepossessions Stephen is determined to cultivate in the teeth of persecution.
The dream-world Stephen nourishes within himself is played against manifestations of music, sport, and religion throughout the chapter. The constant ironic clash of Dublin vs. the Dream animates chapter II, as the clash of the ego vs. authority in chapter I. All these themes come to focus during Stephens visit with his father to Cork. The dream of rebellion he has silently cultivated is externalized by the discovery of the word Foetus carved in a desk by a forgotten medical student:
The possibility of shame gaining the upper hand is dashed, however, by the sudden banal intrusion of his fathers conversation (When you kick out for yourself, Stephen, as I daresay you will one of these days, remember, whatever you do, to mix with gentlemen .).
Against the standards of Dublin his monstrous reveries acquire a Satanic glamour, and the trauma is slowly diverted into a resolution to rebel. After his father has expressed a resolve to leave him to his Maker (religion), and offered to sing a tenor song against him (music) or  vault a fivebarred gate against him (sport), Stephen muses, watching his father and two cronies drinking to the memory of their past:
After one final effort to compromise with Dublin on Dublins terms has collapsed into futility (The pot of pink enamel paint gave out and the wainscot of his bedroom remained with its unfinished and illplastered coat, P110/111), he fiercely cultivates his rebellious thoughts, and moving by day and night among distorted images of the outer world, P111/112, plunges at last into the arms of whores. The holy encounter he had then imagined at which weakness and timidity and inexperience were to fall from him, P112/113, finally arrives in inversion of Father Dolans and Uncle Charles religion: his descent into night-town is accompanied by lurid evocations of a Black Mass (Cf. Ulysses, 583/565):
Controlling Images: Sin and Repentance
A rapprochement in these terms between the outer world and Stephens desires is too inadequate to need commentary; and it makes vivid as nothing else could the hopeless inversion of his attempted self-sufficiency. It underlines, in yet another way, his persistent sin: and the dominant theme of chapter III is Sin. A fugue-like opening plays upon the Seven Deadly Sins in turn; gluttony is in the first paragraph (Stuff it into you, his belly counselled him), followed by lust, then sloth (A cold lucid indifference reigned in his soul), pride (His pride in his own sin, his loveless awe of God, told him that his offence was too grievous to be atoned for), anger (The blundering answer stirred the embers of his contempt for his fellows); finally, a recapitulation fixes each term of the mortal catalogue in a phrase, enumerating how from the evil seed of lust all the other deadly sins had sprung forth, P120/120.
Priest and punisher inhabit Stephen himself as well as Dublin: when he is deepest in sin he is most thoroughly a theologian. A paragraph of gloomy introspection is juxtaposed with a list of theological questions that puzzle Stephens mind as he awaits the preacher:
Wine changed into vinegar and the host crumbled into corruption fits exactly the Irish clergy of a church which was the scullery-maid of Christendom. The excited Here he is! Here he is! following hard on the mention of Jesus Christ and signalling nothing more portentous than the rector makes the point as dramatically as anything in the book, and the  clinching sentence, with the students suddenly bending over their catechisms, places the rector as the vehicle of pandybat morality.
The last of the theological questions is the telling question. Stephen never expresses doubt of the existence of God nor of the essential validity of the priestly office - his Non serviam is not a non credo, and he talks of a malevolent reality behind these appearances P287/277 - but the wine and bread that were offered for his veneration were changed into vinegar and crumbled into corruption. And it was the knowledge of that underlying validity clashing with his refusal to do homage to vinegar and rot that evoked his ambivalent poise of egocentric despair. The hell of Father Arnalls sermon, so emotionally overwhelming, so picayune beside the horrors that Stephens imagination can generate, had no more ontological content for Stephen than had an eternity of bliss in the company of the dean of studies, P282/273.
The conflict of this central chapter is again between the phantasmal and the real. What is real - psychologically real, because realized - is Stephens anguish and remorse, and its context in the life of the flesh. What is phantasmal is the heaven of the Church and the good life of the priest. It is only fear that makes him clutch after the latter at all; his reaching out after orthodox salvation is, as we have come to expect, presented in terms that judge it:
That wan waste world of flickering stars is the best Stephen has been able to do towards an imaginative grasp of the communion of Saints sustained by God; unlit, unfelt, unlived explains succinctly why it had so little hold on him, once fear had  relaxed. Equally pertinent is the vision of human temporal occupations the sermon evokes:
To maintain the life of grace in the midst of nature, sustained by so cramped a vision of the life of nature, would mean maintaining an intolerable tension. Stephens unrelenting philosophic bias, his determination to understand what he is about, precludes his adopting the double standard of the Dubliners; to live both the life of nature and the life of grace he must enjoy an imaginative grasp of their relationship which stunts neither. No one doth well against his will, writes Saint Augustine, even though what he doth, be well; and Stephens will is firmly harnessed to his understanding. And there is no one in Dublin to help him achieve understanding. Father Arnalls sermon precludes rather than secures a desirable outcome, for it follows the modes of pandybat morality and Dublin materiality. Its only possible effect on Stephen is to lash his dormant conscience into a frenzy. The description of Hell as a strait and dark and foul smelling prison, an abode of demons and lost souls, filled with fire and smoke, with walls four thousand miles thick, its damned packed in so tightly that they are not even able to remove from the eye the worm that gnaws it, is childishly grotesque beneath its sweeping eloquence; and the hair-splitting catalogues of pains - pain of loss, pain of conscience (divided into three heads), pain of extension, pain of intensity, pain of eternity - is cast in a brainlessly analytic mode that effectively prevents any corresponding Heaven from possessing any reality at all.
Stephens unstable pact with the Church, and its dissolution, follows the pattern of composition and dissipation established by his other dreams: the dream for example of the tryst with Mercedes, which found ironic reality among harlots. It parallels exactly his earlier attempt to build a breakwater of order and elegance against the sordid tide of life without him P110/111, whose failure, with the exhaustion of his money, was epiphanized in the running-dry of a pot of pink enamel paint. His regimen at that time:
is mirrored by his searching after spiritual improvement:
The loan bank he had opened for the family, out of which he had pressed loans on willing borrowers that he might have the pleasure of making out receipts and reckoning the interests on sums lent finds its counterpart in the benefits he stored up for souls in purgatory that he might enjoy the spiritual triumph of achieving with ease so many fabulous ages of canonical penances. Both projects are parodies on the doctrine of economy of grace; both are attempts, corrupted by motivating self-interest, to make peace with Dublin on Dublins own terms; and both are short-lived.
As this precise analogical structure suggests, the action of each of the five chapters is really the same action. Each chapter, closes with a synthesis of triumph which the next destroys. The triumph of the appeal to Father Conmee from lower authority, of the appeal to the harlots from Dublin, of the appeal to the Church from sin, of the appeal to art from the priesthood (the bird-girl instead of the Virgin) is always the same triumph raised to a more comprehensive level. It is an attempt to find new parents; new fathers in the odd chapters, new objects of love in the even. The last version of Father Conmee is the priest of the eternal imagination; the last version of Mercedes is the lure of the fallen seraphim. But the last version of the mother who said, O, Stephen will apologise is the mother who prays on the last page that I may learn in my own life and away from home and friends what the heart is and what it feels. The mother remains.
The Double Female
His desire, figured in the visions of Monte Cristos Mercedes, to meet in the real world the unsubstantial image which his soul so constantly beheld draws him toward the prostitute (In her arms he felt that he had suddenly become strong and fearless and sure of himself, P 114/114) and simultaneously toward the vaguely spiritual satisfaction represented with equal vagueness by the wraithlike E- C-, to whom he twice writes verses. The Emma Clery of Stephen Hero, with her loud forced manners and her body compact of pleasure, S66/56, was refined into a wraith with a pair of initials to parallel an intangible Church. She is continually assimilated to the image of the Blessed Virgin and of the heavenly Bride. The torture she costs him is the torture his apostasy costs him. His flirtation with her is his flirtation with Christ. His profane villanelle draws its imagery from religion - the incense, the eucharistic hymn, the chalice - and her heart, following Dantes image, is a rose, and in her praise the earth was like a swinging swaying censer, a ball of incense, P256/248.
The woman is the Church. His vision of greeting Mercedes with a sadly proud gesture of refusal:
is fulfilled when he refuses his Easter communion. Emmas eyes, in their one explicit encounter, speak to him from beneath a cowl, P76/78. The glories of Mary held his soul captive, P118/118, and a temporary reconciliation of his lust and his spiritual thirst is achieved as he reads the Lesson out of the Song of Solomon. In the midst of his repentance she functions as imagined mediator: The image of Emma appeared before him, and, repenting, he imagined that he stood near Emma in a wide land, and, humbly and in tears, bent and kissed the elbow of her sleeve, P 132/131. Like Dantes Beatrice, she manifests in his earthly experience the Church Triumphant of his spiritual dream. And when he rejects her because she seems to be flirting with Father Moran, his anger is couched in  the anti-clerical terms of his apostasy: He had done well to leave her to flirt with her priest, to toy with a church which was the scullery-maid of Christendom P258/250.
That Kathleen ni Houlihan can flirt with priests is the unforgivable sin underlying Stephens rejection of . But he makes a clear distinction between the stupid clericalism which makes intellectual and communal life impossible, and his long-nourished vision of an artists Church Triumphant upon earth. He rejects the actual for daring to fall short of his vision.
The Final Balance
The interjecting voices of course are those of bathers, but their ironic appropriateness to Stephens Icarian soaring sunward is not meant to escape us: divers have their own ecstasy of flight, and Icarus was drownded. The imagery of Stephens ecstasy is fetched from many sources; we recognize Shelleys skylark, Icarus, the glorified body of the Resurrection (cf. His soul had arisen from the grave of boyhood, spurning her graveclothes, P197/193) and a tremulousness from which it is difficult to dissociate adolescent sexual dreams (which the Freudians tell us are frequently dreams of flying). The entire eight-page passage is cunningly organized with great variety of rhetoric and incident; but we cannot help noticing the limits set on vocabulary and figures of thought. The empurpled triteness of such a cadence as radiant his eyes and  wild his breath and tremulous and wild and radiant his windswept face is enforced by recurrence: But her long fair hair was girlish: and girlish, and touched with the wonder of mortal beauty, her face, P199/195. Ecstasy is the keyword, indeed. This riot of feelings corresponds to no vocation definable in mature terms; the paragraphs come to rest on images of irresponsible motion:
What life connotes it skills not to ask; the word recurs and recurs. So does the motion onward and onward and onward:
It may be well to recall Joyces account of the romantic temper:
Joyce also called Prometheus Unbound the Schwarmerei of a young jew.
And it is quite plain from the final chapter of the Portrait that we are not to accept the mode of Stephens freedom as the message of the book. The priest of the eternal imagination turns out to be indigestibly Byronic. Nothing is more obvious than his total lack of humour. The dark intensity of the first four chapters is moving enough, but our impulse on being confronted with the final edition of Stephen Dedalus is to laugh; and laugh at this moment we dare not; he is after all a victim being prepared for a sacrifice. His shape, as Joyce said, can no longer change. The art he has elected is not the slow elaborative patience of the art of satisfaction. On and on and on and on will be its inescapable mode. He does not see the girl who symbolizes the full revelation; she seemed like one whom magic had changed into the likeness of a strange and beautiful seabird, P199/195, and he confusedly apprehends a sequence of downy and feathery incantations. What, in the last chapter, he does see he sees only to reject, in favour of an incantatory loveliness which has not yet come into the world, P197/186.
The only creative attitude to language exemplified in the book is that of Stephens father:
His vitality is established before the book is thirty pages under way. Stephen, however, isnt enchanted at any time by the proximity of such talk. He isnt, as a matter of fact, even interested in it. Without a backward glance, he exchanges this father for a myth.