Language, Form and Emotion in James Joyce’s Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man: A Literary Analysis

Robert S.P. Jones


James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man has fascinated readers for more than a century and there are layers of psychological meaning to be found throughout the novel. The novel is the perfect vehicle to discuss the relationship between form language and emotion as Joyce deliberately manipulated the emotional response of the reader through innovations in form and language, departing dramatically from previous literary traditions. This paper attempts to take a fresh look at the novel from a psychological perspective and seeks to examine underlying conditioning processes at work in the narrative – particularly the concept of associative learning. Understanding emotional responses to different stimuli is the bedrock of psychological investigation and 100 years after the date of its publication, Portrait of an Artist presents remarkably fresh insights into the human experience of emotion. Despite its age, Portrait of the Artist contains many contemporary psychological insights.


Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Emotional Reaction; Textual Analysis; Psychological insights; Associative Learning; Death-imagery

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