The Role of Loneliness in James Joyce's Ulysses Essay

The Role of Loneliness in James Joyce's Ulysses Essay

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The Role of Loneliness in James Joyce's Ulysses

Have you ever had one of those days when the world seems cold and unfeeling? Where the people that surround you are far away and uncaring? Ulysses is about one of those days, and two people who are stuck within it, searching desperately for a way out. Loneliness runs like a thread through Ulysses, a novel by James Joyce. It constantly tugs at the character's minds, and drives their lives in subtle ways. Joyce drives the point home by giving a drab, grey description of the character's lives.

Ulysses is set in 1904, Dublin, Ireland. Joyce's book was first published in 1922. The plot of Ulysses is fairly simple. The novel re-creates the days of two Irishmen, Leopold Bloom, the main character, and Stephen Dedalus, the son of Bloom's good friend, Simon Dedalus. The story starts with both characters waking up, and follows their lives through a single day. Stephen is a school teacher, and Leopold works as an advertizing canvasser for the local newspapers. For Stephen, it's only a partial day of school, so after receiving his pay, he goes and visits a nearby relative and then goes for a walk on the beach. Meanwhile, Leopold has woken up, and prepared breakfast for himself and his wife. After going to the butcher's and the post office, he goes to the funeral of an old friend, Paddy Dignam. After the funeral, he goes about business in town, and comes across Stephen twice. Finally, as Bloom visits a friend in the hospital, he sees Stephen, extremely drunk with a group of medical students. All of them go to a pub. At the pub, they all get bombed, and Bloom takes Stephen on a drunken rampage through town. When Bloom realizes the state Stephen is in, he takes him home, and offers to let Ste...


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...death of Stephen's mother is still filling his mind - during his drunken spree, Stephen actually thinks that his mother had come back to haunt him. Bloom, on the other hand, after subconsciously searching through Dublin since his son's death, has found someone to help, and be a father figure for them. Although Bloom's gesture of kindness is rejected by Stephen, Bloom has taken the first step out of the dark grip of loneliness by trying to help another.

James Joyce's Ulysses is a story that conveys the drab lives of two miserable Irishmen. The setting portrayed in this book is bleak. Both characters are absorbed in their own loneliness, and lack the perspective to see beyond it. Although Ulysses may seem long and extremely confusing, Joyce creates a thorough depiction of this human condition.

Works cited

Joyce, James. Ulysses. New York: Random House, 1961.

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