“He felt his cheeks aflame and his throat throbbing with song. There was a lust of wandering in his feet that burned to set out for the ends of the earth. On! On! his heart seemed to cry. Evening would deepen above the sea, night fall upon the plains, dawn glimmer before the wanderer and show him strange fields and hills and faces” (Joyce 122).
Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Dover Publications, 1994
Stephen’s urge to sing emphasizes how much more he wants from his life. He is trying to force himself to live a life of intense piety, relying on religion as a sole means of fulfilling his needs. However, it is only causing him to feel deep resentment for religion itself and those around him. Art is a motivator for him; a way to explain and understand life, and to feel he has a purpose within it. When he can begin to accept the fact that he does not need to be solely defined by God or by restrictive and oppressive behaviors, he can begin to heal and grow as a person, and truly contribute his talent to the world.
“ ‘A second chance—that’s the delusion. There never was to be but one. We work in the dark—we do what we can—we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art’ ”
James, Henry. “The Middle Years.” In Complete Stories 1892-1898, edited by John Hollander and David Bromwich, 335-55. New York: Library of America, 1996, p. 354
All the doubt and fear Dencombe felt was the accumulation of passion which he designated to be the purpose of human life and as a result, his passion for writing gains the respect and admiration of Doctor Hughes. His work is what inspires and preserves the doctor’s passion for literature (a dying field.) In a handful of words, the author portrays a fulfilled circle of life one that serves to reassure us of own doubts. Rather than try and dismiss our fear of the uncertainty, it is portrayed as being a necessary component of passion that drives us to live. This vicious cycle of self-doubt, regret, and fear finds itself in our lives and our sense of fulfillment, but perhaps this is necessary to help us complete our purpose?