Semiology of Culture in James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Leila Baradaran Jamili, Razie Arshadi


This study sheds new light on the role of city whether real or fictional in modern novel as one of the signs of man’s cultural fate. For the same reason, city is not a mere physical place, but a spatial concept. Not only has city become inseparable from man’s personal and national destiny but also one’s life continues to unfold on city’s streets. James Joyce’s (1882-1941) A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (A Portrait, 2000) deals with Joyce’s home, Dublin. Joyce aims to universalize and simultaneously eternalize his home through his art. Accordingly, the reader of his text is to decipher the cultural signs of Dublin to get into it. As Michael Ryan (1946-) refers to culture as the total way of life that it has multiple meanings; to understand the culture of a city, to read its meaning, one has to decipher it. Semiology, based on Roland Barthes (1915-1980), is the science of signs whose emphasis is on the interpretation of codes, signs and symbols in a particular culture. Thus, the culture of Dubliners portrayed in A Portrait can be decoded through semiology by the readers. Stephen Dedalus is one who deciphers the cultural signs such as paralysis, religion, prostitution and confession through his walking in Dublin. He considers them as nets of Dublin that he tries to escape from them.


City, Culture, Semiology, Real City, Fictional City

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