A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: Character Profiles
Father Arnall: Father Arnall is a priest who teaches Latin at Clongowes. He also gives the lectures on hell at Belvedere College that have such a dramatic effect on Stephen.
Athy: Athy is a student at Clongowes Wood College whom Stephen meets when they are both in the infirmary.
Mr. John Casey: Mr. John Casey is a friend of Simon Dedalus. He attends the Christmas dinner when Stephen is small, and along with Simon he argues fiercely with Dante about Charles Parnell, whom Casey supports.
Uncle Charles: Uncle Charles is Stephen's great-uncle who lives with the Dedalus family. In summers at Blackrock, uncle Charles is Stephen's constant companion on errands and walks. He is a fit old man, in spite of being a heavy smoker. He is also religious and takes no part in the family arguments over Irish politics.
Father Conmee: Father Conmee is the rector at Clongowes Wood College. When Stephen complains to him that he has been unfairly punished, Father Conmee reacts in a just and kindly way. The students regard him as the most decent rector Clongowes ever had.
Cranly: Cranly is Stephen's closest friend at University College. Stephen confides in Cranly all the tumult and longing of his soul, and Cranly excels as a listener. He reminds Stephen of a priest. Later, Cranly often offers Stephen advice, which Stephen rejects. It is Cranly, for example, who advises him to attend church to please his mother, which Stephen is unwilling to do.
Simon Dedalus: Simon Dedalus is Stephen's father. He has had many occupations in life, including, as Stephen describes it, "somebody's secretary, something in a distillery, a taxgatherer, a bankrupt and at present a praiser of his own past." As a young man Simon was a medical student, but he has not been a success in life. As Stephen grows up, the family sinks from being relatively well off into poverty. Simon is a strong supporter of Charles Parnell, the Irish nationalist, and over one Christmas dinner when Stephen is small, he gets into a fierce argument with Dante over the matter.
Mrs. Dedalus: Mrs. Dedalus is the long-suffering wife of Simon Dedalus. At the Christmas dinner when Simon argues with Dante, she appeals in vain for peace. She is a conventionally religious woman and she does not understand it when Stephen drifts away from the church. She opposes his desire to attend University College.
Stephen Dedalus: Stephen Dedalus is the main character in the novel, which follows his life from when he was very young until he is in his early twenties. The young Stephen is a studious, intelligent, sensitive boy. He attends two Jesuit schools, Clongowes Wood College and then Belvedere College. At Belvedere he wins a reputation for piety, and he seems to be destined for a career in the church. But he also feels the pull of sensuality, and has his first sexual experience with a prostitute at the age of sixteen. This and further visits to prostitutes cause him great feelings of guilt. After Belvedere, Stephen attends University College, Dublin. He no longer feels any desire to become a priest, and he loses his religious faith. Instead, he feels a calling to become an artist, and he develops an aesthetic theory that places the highest value on beauty and art. He is determined to pursue his own creative calling, and he knows that he will have to leave Ireland in order to do so. He rejects his family, the church and any political involvement in the Irish cause, determined to shape his own destiny rather than have it shaped by others.
Dante (Mrs. Riordan) : Dante, whose real name is Mrs. Riordan, is the governess of the Dedalus children. She is a clever, well-read woman, and she is also a fierce and pious supporter of the Catholic Church. Over one Christmas dinner, she gets into an argument with Simon Dedalus and Mr. Casey over Charles Parnell. She believes the church was right to reject him because he was involved in a divorce scandal.
Davin : Davin is a friend of Stephen's at University College. He is steeped in Irish history and legend and his fellow students call him a Fenian, meaning that he advocates forcing the English out of Ireland. But Stephen teases him about this, calling him one of the "tame geese," who do not act on their professed beliefs.
Father Dolan: Father Dolan is the domineering prefect at Clongowes Wood College who beats Fleming and then also unjustly beats Stephen.
Emma: Emma is the young woman who is the object of Stephen's romantic longings. Even though he encounters her from time to time over a period of many years, he never gets to know her very well.
Fleming: Fleming is a boy who attends Clongowes Wood College. Father Arnall accuses him of being lazy, and as a result he is beaten with a strap by Father Dolan.
Mike Flynn: Mike Flynn is an old friend of Stephen's father who coaches Stephen at running. Flynn has trained many fine athletes in the past, but he is past his best and Stephen has little trust in his abilities.
Vincent Heron: Vincent Heron is a student at Belvedere College, and a rival of Stephen's. He gets in an argument with Stephen about who is the greatest poet, and joins with his friends Boland and Nash to bully Stephen because he does not like Stephen's choice of Lord Byron.
Lynch: Lynch is a student at University College and a friend of Stephen's. He has a coarse sense of humor, but this does not stop Stephen explaining his aesthetic theories to him.
MacCann: MacCann is a student at University College who is very involved in political causes. He tries unsuccessfully to get Stephen interested in politics.
Brother Michael: Brother Michael is the amiable priest who takes care of Stephen in the infirmary.
Aubrey Mills: Aubrey Mills is a friend of Stephen's at Blackrock, during the summer after his last term at Clongowes. They are the nucleus of a small gang that has a number of harmless adventures.
Temple: Temple is a student at University College who admires Stephen and tries to emulate him.
Eileen Vance: Eileen Vance is a young girl who is Stephen's neighbor. They are about the same age, and when he is very young, Stephen says he wants to marry Eileen when he grows up. Dante is angry with him because Eileen's family is Protestant.
Wells: Wells is a boy who attends Clongowes Wood College. He is the school bully who mocks Stephen and on one occasion pushes him into a cesspool.