An Awful Power

“No king or emperor on this earth has the power of the priest of God. No angel or archangel in heaven, no saint, not even the Blessed Virgin herself has the power of a priest of God: the power of the keys, the power to bind and to loose from sin, the power of exorcism, the power to cast out from the creatures of God the evil spirits that have power over them, the power, the authority, to make the great God of Heaven come down upon the altar and take the form of bread and wine. What an awful power, Stephen!”(Joyce 133)

Joyce uses a lot of repetition in this passage, emphasizing the power that priests possess. There’s some irony in this emphasis, as the priest begins to claim power over angels and archangels, the Virgin Mary, and even the power to force God to Earth; all of which runs counter to the faith. Through this, Joyce suggests that the priest and the church conversely, have no real, tangible power that Stephen should believe in, or be forgiven by – instead, they are motivated by an emotional and spiritual power to control and lord over others,.

No Sympathy for Stephen

“-I told them all at dinner about it and Father Dolan and I and all of us we had a hearty laugh together over it. Ha! Ha! Ha!” (Joyce 76).

Joyce, J., & Deane, S. (2003). A portrait of the artist as a young man. Penguin Books, pp 76

I find it interesting to see the provincials’ words being spoken by Mr. Dedalus as it seems to separate Stephen from the authority figures in his life. Seeing this moment through Stephens’s point of view emphasizes his isolation as he witnesses the adults around him making light of a painful memory.