Shortly after this, as he relishes the prospect of attending University College and discovering his true destiny, he imagines his new adventure in terms of music: "It seemed to him that he heard notes of fitful music leaping upwards a tone and downwards a diminished fourth, upwards a tone and downwards a major third, like triple-branching flames leaping fitfully, flame after flame, out of a midnight wood" (179). Music, then, whether heard directly or imagined, offers Stephen a way into the depths of his being.
So too Stephen Dedalus is trapped in a labyrinth that consists of the paths made by others, such as family, religion, and nation. Following the paths laid out by others leaves him wandering in a maze that offers him no fulfilment. There are a number of false exits in the labyrinth, times when Stephen feels elated and free, but none of these is the real escape route. Examples include the incident at the end of Chapter 1, when he is greeted as a hero by the other boys for reporting his unfair beating to the rector; the intoxication he feels when he has his first sexual experience with a prostitute; and the relief that follows his confession to the priest. All these moments offer temporary relief only. Permanent escape comes only when, like Daedalus, he fashions his own wings and realizes his destiny as an artist.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: Metaphor Analysis