A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
James Joyce
Contributed by Cinderella Domino
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Character Analysis
Stephen Dedalus

A sickly child who suffers from poor eyesight, he is a loner who has difficulty mixing with his contemporaries.  What he lacks in physical prowess he makes up for in his artistic outlook. He excels at school in writing and acting and decides that a career in this are will provide him with contentment. He experiments with both the seedy and religious sides of life and his road to fulfillment is a hard one. He decides that in order to find his own artistic soul he must cut all ties with the past.  He feels that he and Ireland have been let down by the ineffectual Roman Catholic Church and he Irish Nationalist movement.

Simon Dedalus

Stephen’s good-natured but weak father does not provide Stephen with a good role model.  His irresponsibility leads to his family facing a financial crisis that forces Stephen to leave Boarding School and attend a Day School.

Mary Dedalus

Mary follows strictly the Roman Catholic doctrines and her life is one of continual pregnancy, poverty and the responsibility of holding her family together.  She regards Stephen’s departure from Ireland at the end of the novel as her failure.

Mrs. Riordan

Stephen calls his nurse Aunt Dante, although there is no relation by blood.  She is a strict governess for all the Dedalus children and she is not shy in spouting her religious convictions, notably at Stephen’s first Christmas dinner with the adults.

Maurice Dedalus

Stephen’s younger brother who is unlike Stephen in that he is far less intelligent and somewhat coarse. He too attends Belvedere College.  Stephen also has 3 younger sisters, Katy, Maggie and Boody.

Uncle Charles

He is Stephen’s ageing great-uncle who lives in the Dedalus household. He seems able to relate better to Stephen than his own father.  He is a relic from Ireland’s distant past and a staunch Nationalist.

John Casey

He is a close friend of Simon Dedalus and it is he who champions Parnell in the face of criticism from Mrs. Riordan. He has been imprisoned on several occasions for making public speeches supporting Parnell.

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