Words can’t describe an epiphany. So much thought and emotion build up inside of you while you are not looking and all of a sudden it happens. The clouds clear, and on the sparkling horizon is you, plain and simple. Somehow all the chaos in life disappears and your answers are staring right back at you, be they good or bad. Such a powerful experience cannot be taken lightly especially when trying to relate this emotion to the reader. And no one does it better then Joyce in A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man.
Stepen Dedalus, like any other young man, is very confused in his life. So many choices are in front of him; what he will do with the rest of his life, how he really feels toward Ireland (his homeland). His experiences as a young man have been, to put it simply, less then good. From the horrors of boarding school, to the constant political arguments his family are engaged in, Stephen has had enough. To escape this he goes for a walk, a long one. And then it happens.
In front of him is a beautiful young girl. And Stephan’s emotions and thoughts explode in a climatic realization of his entire purpose. An epiphany. Every element of the girls person and clothing snap something into perfect focus for Stephan. Her beautiful body tells him of his sexual needs, while a simple piece of seaweed draped over her shows him of his commitment to Ireland. His elation is overwhelming and he runs, set free by knowing his final purpose. Stephan is changed.
Joyce, gave epiphany the second meaning of this undescribable feeling, yet his descriptions are remarkable given what he is trying to put across. Think of it this way. Have you ever been in a near car collision, what is the feeling that passes through your body after you realize that you are safe. Now times that by ten. That is epiphany. And in Portrait, as well as other Joyce stories., it becomes prevalent and makes the book what it is.