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,.

Religious Mind

“He offered up each of his three daily chaplets that his soul might grow strong in each of the three theological values, in faith in the Father Who had created him, in hope in the Son Who had redeemed him and his love of the Holy Ghost Who had sanctified him; and this thrice triple prayer he offered to the Three Persons through Mary in the name of her joyful and sorrowful and glorious mysteries.”

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Pg. 125)

I love the way this passage begins to sound like a prayer, especially in the end with “her joyful and sorrowful and glorious mysteries.” There is no change in punctuation to show that this is anything different from traditional narration, but I think this is an example of the Uncle Charles principle. This is a clear tone shift from ealier in the novel- now it is noticeably more religious. As Stephen becomes more religious and a “good Catholic” his thoughts may become almost prayer-like.