Monday, April 28, 2008


Usurpers play a huge role in unveiling the events of the day. There is an argument for almost every character to be a usurper in one way or another. Some of the obvious ones are Buck and Boylan. I would argue that our three main characters also have some usurper-like qualities about them, but of course Joyce doesn’t bring anything to closure as to who THE usurper of the novel is. With all this usurping going on, I’d like to lay out a few reasons I think the main characters might be called usurpers to maybe spark an idea for a paper topic (as I’m taking the test).

Stephen: Usurper of his mother’s faith. Buck criticizes him for this in Telemachus and I think Stephen is haunted by the ghost of his mother for this very reason. Stephen also somewhat usurps Bloom’s feelings of paternity for him by not reciprocating the connection as well as Bloom would like. I think the case for this is reinforced in Ithaca, as the differences between the two are more clearly defined (for instance in the song about the murderous Jewish daughter), and could provide an interesting spin on the way Stephen’s identity as Telemachus in the novel.

Molly & Bloom: We view most of the novel from Bloom’s side of the Boylan-Molly affair. Therefore, it is easy to call Molly a usurper of fidelity and of Bloom’s love, as we see the estrangement that has come upon Bloom as a result. However, in Penelope we get a taste of Molly’s side, and see that Bloom is wrong in his assumption of her having many suitors. Boylan is her first compromise of their marriage. She feels Bloom has distanced himself from her and may be having fun of his own. Having seen both sides now, I can see Molly and Bloom as being usurpers of each other. However, this doesn’t seem to drive them apart. Instead, Bloom comes to terms with Molly’s affair and Molly seems to choose Bloom at the end of Penelope.

1 comment:

Clay Mason said...

Trey, I think you bring up some interesting points. Most specifically, if Stephen truly is a usurper, what implications does that make about Joyce himself? We've talked at length about the obvious connections between Stephen and Joyce (in that Stephen is essentially our "Joyce" character), and I wonder whether or not Joyce would consider himself as a usurper.