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Stephen's brothers and sisters-there were ten-appear only briefly. He is not close to them and is not even sure how many his mother has had altogether.


Stephen's great uncle is one of the few adults drawn with humor and real affection. The genial old codger may have wasted a fortune, but he keeps his dignity-even when exiled to the outhouse where, sporting a tall black hat and singing Irish ballads, he smokes his foul black tobacco. With his carefree talkativeness, Uncle Charles may remind you of Simon Dedalus. Yet Stephen accepts him as he doesn't accept his father. Perhaps it's because, like children, elderly great uncles are permitted to be a little irresponsible while breadwinners of large families are not.

Uncle Charles and his friends are part of Stephen's happy Blackrock summer. Stephen enjoys hearing the old man talk about Irish politics, athletics, and family lore. He seems to represent a happy side of Ireland and of the Dedalus clan you don't see elsewhere. Yet the glories he speaks of are all in the past. And soon he himself is sliding into senility. If you view Uncle Charles both as a colorful character in his own right and as a symbol of a family and a nation, you may suspect that Joyce wants you to see that Ireland, and the Dedalus family, are enduring a decline similar to Uncle Charles'.


Stephen's governess, Dante, is an intelligent, well-informed woman of strong convictions and an ardent Irish nationalist. Her hair brushes sport the colors of her political heroes but she strips the colors off when the politicians lose her favor.

Most of all, Dante is a fervent Catholic, a devout believer who almost became a nun. You can see her either as a good Church member or as a religious bigot. When her hero, the nationalist Parnell, is condemned by the Church, she rejects him. The Christmas dinner scene is proof of her strong feelings. Her rigidity is a symbol of the kind of Catholic thinking against which Stephen rebels.


Casey, a close friend of the family, is a loyal follower of Parnell. John has even gone to jail because of involvement in pro-Parnell demonstrations. He represents the revolutionaries who later organized the Sinn Fein movement for independence from Britain. Although outraged by the Church's denouncement of Parnell on moral grounds, his anger does not make him renounce his faith. He protests he is "no renegade Catholic."



Eileen Vance, the little girl Stephen wants to marry when he is very young, remains a romantic ideal. As the youngsters frolic together, you see her golden hair streaming in the sun. The feel of her cool white hands like ivory is one of Stephen's earliest sensual experiences. The ivory hands and the golden hair merge into a recurrent phrase, "Tower of Ivory. House of Gold," which is part of the Roman Catholic Litany of Our Lady. Like Stephen's mother, Eileen represents a vision of womanhood associated with the Virgin, but with overtones of warmth and comfort.

EMMA (E. C.)

Can you describe Emma? Probably not. She is a provocative look under a hood, dark eyelashes, tapping footsteps, girlish laughter, and not much more. There are few encounters between Stephen and Emma. She may have flirted with a young priest-or she may not have.

Like Mercedes, the heroine of The Count of Monte Cristo (by Alexandre Dumas pere) who nourishes Stephen's fantasy life, or Eileen, Stephen's childhood friend, Emma is a symbol of frustrated romantic fervor. She is there to show you how Stephen relates to women. He is shy, moody. He regrets he didn't take advantage of a chance to kiss her. Instead, he possesses her in his imagination.

Emma's physical image often blends with that of the Blessed Virgin and Church rituals in Stephen's mind. The imagery in the poem (villanelle) he writes about her is both sensuous and religious.



If there is a villain in Portrait of the Artist, it is the Clongowes Dean of Studies. He not only hits Stephen harder than necessary, but he also seems to take pleasure in the act and in humiliating him. He is both cruel and unjust. Joyce depicts him vividly as having a "whitegrey" face with "no-colored eyes" behind steel-rimmed eyeglasses. Father Dolan is a central part of the horror of the pandybat incident that is permanently etched in Stephen's memory. His cruelty warns Stephen that all priests are not what they should be. It is the first step toward his later rejection of the Church.


The Latin teacher is a mild man who tries to be fair. Stephen is surprised to see him angry at times. He concludes that if the priest can permit himself to be angry, anger need not be a sin. But Arnall is also ineffective and weak. He doesn't protect Stephen from the cruelty of Father Dolan, Arnall's superior, and the boy resents this. It is further proof that adults-even priests-as well as boys can be cruel and unfair.

An older, more forceful Arnall turns up later as the retreat master at Belvedere College who strikes terror into Stephen with his lurid sermons on Hell. His warnings of eternal torment for sinners are meant to frighten the boys into conformity.


The diplomatic rector of Clongowes comforts the indignant Stephen when Stephen complains about the unjust physical punishment inflicted by Father Dolan. But Father Conmee's concern turns out to be hypocritical. Instead of reproaching Father Dolan for his "mistake," Conmee has a good laugh with Dolan about "the manly little chap." The priests once again disappoint Stephen.



Vincent Heron and Stephen Dedalus, the top students at Belvedere, have a strained relationship. Heron is a tease and a bully. But Stephen and he are constant companions, mainly because both of them feel alienated by their intelligence from other students.

Heron has a bird's face as well as a bird's name. His eagle-like features and his faintly cruel smile call to mind the eagles in the prelude that threaten Stephen's eyes. Heron's repeated, bullying commands that Stephen admit certain things echo the earlier demands that the boy apologize. Like the menacing eagles, Heron is a reminder of social pressure to conform as well as religious pressure to confess one's sins.


Boland and Nash are ignorant allies of Heron whose attacks on Stephen's literary idols particularly anger him. They help reinforce the image of Stephen as a nonconformist and loner.



Lynch is the down-to-earth audience who provides comic relief during Stephen's lengthy, and somewhat overblown, explanation of his artistic conceptions in Chapter Five. Stephen feels contempt for the crass, cynical Lynch, as he does for many of his university classmates. In contrast to Stephen's intellectual and spiritual orientation, Lynch is explicitly, crudely physical; he grimaces, rubs his groin, and admits having eaten dung.


Stephen's closest companion Cranly is from a back-country town south of Dublin. In spite of his lack of sophistication and his intellectual inferiority, he plays the role of father confessor to his doubting, religiously tormented friend. Representing the voice of society and tradition in its most understanding form, he tries to warn Stephen of the extreme loneliness he will incur if he leaves Catholicism, Ireland, and the ties of family and friends. His reminders about friendship and love point up Stephen's essential inability to be close to others.


The idealistic MacCann represents the liberated Irish intellect of his day. He looks beyond Ireland and works doggedly for world peace. Although, like Stephen, he rejects the narrowness of local concerns, his devotion to abstract ideas of social equality and a united Europe is the opposite of Stephen's solitary devotion to his personal vocation as an artist. In fact, MacCann scolds Stephen for being antisocial and "wrapped up in himself."


Davin is a simple, rustic student steeped in Irish lore. An ardent nationalist, he tries earnestly to interest Stephen in the Gaelic language of ancient Ireland as well as its present political struggle for independence from England. "A man's country comes first," he tells Stephen. "You can be a poet or mystic after."

Stephen seems fond of Davin and perhaps even envious of the gentle simplicity he knows he lacks himself. He finds himself haunted by Davin's story of a late-night meeting with a mysterious country woman. At the same time however, Davin represents to him an Ireland that by over-romanticizing its past stifles its citizens in the present-the Ireland he must escape.

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