Monday, April 7, 2008

Hurray for the Irish, but not the Irish Jews

In episode 13th, the Cyclops, antisemitism gets pushed to the forefront allowing the reader to witness it in its raw form where it is not hidden under the auspice of jokes or unspoken thoughts. The citizen openly antagonizes Bloom, the only jewish individual in the pub. He viciously attacks Bloom's identity as a Jew and views Bloom's perception of himself as an Irishman as laughable.

One would think that the citizen would be sympathetic towards the persecution of the Jews due to the fact that his own nation is suffering from English rule and oppression. Instead of focusing his anger on England, he decides to attack Bloom and all Bloom stands for: a jew and a second generation Irishman. The citizen does not realize that by ostracizing and harrassing Bloom he is partaking in the vicious cycle of oppression and persecution that he is trying to destroy in Ireland. Hence, the citizen is an elitist due to the fact he believes the rules involving freedom and persecution apply to some and not others.

If Joyce intended Bloom to be a Christ-like figure in this episode then the citizen mirrors a Judas-like figure because although he is fighting for Irish nationalism and unity, he believes this right belongs only to the real Irish. The citizen appears as if he is advocating togetherness; however, he betrays and persecutes those that do not fit his criteria like Bloom. By ostracizing and mocking Bloom, the citizen presents Bloom to a world where he can be further persecuted and follow a path similar to Christ.

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