There are several phrases that have been used repeatedly by Leopold Bloom in the course of Ulysses. For example ‘High Grade ha’ – this seems to be referring to the novel itself. The ‘high grade’ is so because the author can show off knowledge of Hebrew, discourse on reservoirs and gravity. The author is depicted as an annoying genius without self control, washing the reader away in vain and infantile torrent of words.
Stephen Dedalus is the literary alter ego of James Joyce. He appears as a protagonist and antihero of his first autographical novel. He appears in Ulysses as the character who corresponds to Telemachus. He is the protagonist of the first three chapters. Ovid described Stephen in Metamorphoses VIII: 183 -235 as being shut up in a tower so as to prevent his knowledge of the labyrinth from spreading to the public. Stephen shares his opinion about religion as they relate to the recent death of his mother.
Stephen teaches a history lesson on ancient Rome. He had the information about all things- past, present and the future but was reluctant to say what he knew. He then discredits his own ideas afterwards giving a suggestion on lack of self confidence. Stephen mirrors many facets of Joyce’s own life and personality. Bloom regards Stephen’s excellent tenor voice after hearing him singing a song by Johannes Jeep. This is similar to Joyce who was a talented singer.
Leopold Bloom functions like some sort of everyman. Joyce exploits the irony of the fact that his father was a Hungarian Jew. Readers tend to forget Bloom’s Irish mother and the multiple baptisms. Bloom is clear sighted and is depicted as unsentimental when it comes to his male peers. His status as an outsider and combined with his ability to envision and inclusive state, puts him at a place where he is seen to suffer from and exposes the insularity of Ireland and Irishness in 1904. His social exclusion is actually not one sided. He is not a fan of drinking nor gossiping and is depicted as a person who is always friendly and is not sorry to be excluded from their circles.
Blooms characters are noteworthy for the differences it has from Stephen’s character. Stephens cerebrality makes him comfortable with the physical world as it seems more remarkable. Bloom appear in the beginning to be bending down his cat as he wonders how her senses really work as opposed to Stephen who shuts himself off from the material world to ponder the workings of his own perception.
Bloom’s comfort with the physical is also manifested in his sexuality which is a dimension not present in Stephen’s character. The evidence of Bloom’s sexuality is portrayed from his penchant for voyeurism and female underclothing to his masturbation and erotic correspondence. On the other hand, Stephen seems to lack experience and celibate. Some other things that define Bloom’s characters are the disparities between the two men. Stephen is somehow dramatic and depressive while Bloom on the other hand is mature and even headed. Bloom is portrayed as someone who can cheer himself up and tend to avoid thinking about depressing topics.
The similarities between the two are found in their nature of operation and lifestyle. Both of them are unrealized artists but with completely different agendas. Bloom’s conception with arts is bourgeois as he considers art as a way to effect people’s actions and feelings in an immediate way. Both of them share a love for music and Stephen’s companionship is attractive to Bloom.
Joyce, J. Abbreviated profile from World Authors 1900-1950. Accessed October 16, 2008.
Ovid, J. In his Metamorphoses