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A Freudian Interpretation of Stephen Dedalus in a Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Author WeiChengLin
Tutor MengXueQin
School Sichuan Normal University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Stephen id ego superego defense mechanisms identification and sublimation
CLC I562.074
Type Master's thesis
Year 2012
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Since its publication, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man which of the following is mentioned as A Portrait, written by James Joyce has been read and explored endlessly by so many scholars and critics from various theoretical perspectives. Reading and countless rereading of A Portrait offer us not only enlightenment but also delight. A tentative study will be made of Stephen’s psychological process and spiritual development in A Portrait by applying Freudian theory.The thesis is composed of the following five parts:The introduction first introduces the author James Joyce and presents the social background of the research text of this thesis, A Portrait, and then the main criticism related to this thesis, and finally the main point of the thesis.The first chapter analyzes Stephen’s id, ego and superego by means of the theory of Freudian personality structure. Only under the guidance of the theory, can we hound the dynamic reasons why Stephen speaks or behaves in that way and hound the true reasons why Stephen is so anguished and perplexed.The second chapter centers on such defense mechanisms as repression and suppression, regression, projection, reaction formation and fixation used by Stephen’s ego. Stephen’s inner world and his plighted situation are revealed and dissected with the theory of defense mechanism.The third chapter elaborates on the means of identification and displacement and sublimation, which also belong to the category of defense mechanisms. Stephen’s personality at last successfully and healthily develops and restores his psychic equilibrium.Based on the above analysis, this thesis arrives at the conclusion that at first Stephen Dedalus is tormented by the conflicts of his id, ego and superego. Then in order to release his tension and anxiety and lessen his torment and torture, his ego applies some defense mechanisms that just impede his growth for his overuse of them and therefore he is caught in a dilemma which makes his personality almost split. But at last Stephen’s personality develops, he breaks through the nets of family, religion and nationality and becomes an artist by identifying with the great artificer Stephen Daedalus and sublimating his id by which Stephen turns his id or sexual desire to the artistic creation just like James Joyce.

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