Joyce's decision to disappear into Stephen's consciousness represents an investment in him that would evoke the reader's sympathy for Stephen's aspirations. There is no stronger evidence of Stephen's enthrallment to religious authority than his aesthetic doctrine; though he means to affirm the autonomy of art, the doctrine is parasitic on that very authority. In an interesting study of Portrait, Joseph Buttigieg takes Stephen to task for spiritual fecklessness in escaping the common life. He believes that Joyce's irony is directed against Stephen's desire to transcend. Joyce's break with Stephen is already anticipated in the irony directed toward him in Portrait, but the irony remains a dissonance in what is the lyrical and celebratory mood of the prose. Bersani's complaint is focused on Joyce's obsession with language, which leads away from an imaginative attention to the real world. The transparencies of traditional realism were no longer available to Joyce, nor were the illusions of a transcendent aestheticism.