Sunday, March 16, 2008

Buck Mulligan

While Stephen spends his time thinking and brooding, Buck appreciates the more physical aspects of life. Buck is described as having an equine (horse-like) face, and details like this and his name suggest that he is more animalistic, more about the primitive and natural than the intellectual. He tries to suggest his name has a Hellenic ring, even though it’s Stephen who has the clearly Greek name. He is sacrilegious and thoroughly irreverent, and while this fact cannot be held against him (Joyce doesn’t seem to be entirely in favor of the Catholic Church), it seems that he is not truly qualified to hold any sort of opinion, due to the fact that he probably hasn’t thought through and understood these ideas that he outwardly rejects.

His appearance recalls the image of a “patron of arts in the middle ages” (1). Like patrons of the arts, he is not involved in the creation of art (as Stephen is), but in the financial, public, more superficial aspects. Interestingly, he refers to Stephen at one time as “Caliban,” the beast-like human who serves under the wizard Prospero in a Shakespearean play (6). While this comparison emphasizes Stephen’s servant-like role, it is also ironic in that the character of Caliban is often seen as a symbol for the wild, natural man (he once attempted to rape his master’s daughter) devoid of art or high intellect.

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