The Forlorn Loves in Joyce's novel, Ulysses
Greek has words for four kinds of love: agape, or spiritual love; storge, or familial love; the love between friends, or philia; and sexual love, the familiar eros. All four figure in Joyce's novel Ulysses, yet all eventually evade the two male protagonists, Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom: Ulysses proves ultimately to be a love-less work.
Agape -- spiritual love, the charitable love among coreligionists or between Man and God -- seems sure to appear, given Ulysses' protagonists' backgrounds and the host of Christian symbols that flock about them. Yet Stephen Dedalus is torn with doubt in his Catholicism, and we find in the course of the novel that Bloom renounced his Judaism, first to convert to Protestantism with his father and then, conveniently, to convert to Catholicism to marry Molly: both have fallen from their original faith. Within two paragraphs of Ulysses' opening we see a mock Mass -- "Introibo ad altare Dei" (p. 3) -- and hear the lurking Stephen scornfully called a "fearful jesuit" by mocking Mulligan. Stephen is certainly no recipient of agape here! Interestingly, Simon Dedalus identifies Mulligan as Stephen's "fidus Achates" (p. 73), a glancing Virgil image to set Stephen up as "pius Aeneas", "pious Aeneas", Virgil's hero of proper behavior to gods and men. But, as we see, home-stealing, ever-jeering Mulligan is no more "fidus" than whoring, drunken Stephen is "pius".
Stephen Dedalus is a prolix speaker, an engaging theorist and theologian, well versed in ecclesiastical history, particularly in the Church's early heresies. Yet, for all his knowledge and cogent arguments, he shows little inclination for belief. His arguments on ...
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...9), yet that is exactly what Bloom does -- kiss her buttocks, the most anonymous and androgynous part of her body.
In fact, Molly's final thoughts in Ulysses only underscore the lack of eros that has afflicted Bloom throughout the book. She begins to menstruate ("this bloody pest of a thing" (p. 642)) even as she considers trying to re-establish sexual relations, and moves in her thoughts to their tryst on Howth Hill -- the same rendezvous Bloom has recalled so fondly before. Yet, like all too many of the happy occasions in Ulysses, this one is in the past, dead and gone. Indeed, the book ends in Molly's "yes I said yes I will Yes." (p. 644), but the "Yes" is in the past, only another sad comment on Bloom's lack of love. Love is a thing of the past, dreams are sick counterfeits and cheats: agape, storge, philia, eros, the four loves, are forlorn.