Confessions of love, in varying forms, provide continuity within Stephen's changing allegiances from church to art in Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Part III culminates in Stephen's confession to a priest of sinful love, a pivotal moment that serves as a paradigm for Stephen's many earlier and later confessions, to laity as well as clergy. But the confessional mode, naturally a dominant influence on a young Catholic's efforts at self-expression, threatens to undermine Stephen's artistic detachment. In Part V, he criticizes art he calls kinetic-that is, art that arouses desire or loathing -and confession, as practiced in the Catholic church, is designed precisely to create a sense of loathing for one's sins and a desire for spiritual purity. Profane confession also arouses desire, but for opposite reasons. In either form, confession tends to generate an art counter to Stephen's ideal of stasis, art that arrests the feelings of desire and loathing in the contemplation of beauty.
"Confessions of Love in Joyce's Portrait,"
University of Dayton Review: Vol. 17:
3, Article 11.
Available at: https://ecommons.udayton.edu/udr/vol17/iss3/11