Intellectual Leopold Bloom Versus Intellectual Stephen Dedalus

Did Bloom discover common factors of similarity

between their respective like and unlike reactions

to experience?

Both were sensitive to artistic impressions musical

in preference to plastic or pictorial. Both preferred

a continental to an insular manner of life, a cisatlantic

to a transatlantic place of residence. Both indurated

by early domestic training and an inherited tenacity

of heterodox resistance professed their disbelief in

many orthodox religious, national, social and ethical

doctrines. Both admitted the alternately stimulating

and obtunding influence of hetero sexual magnetism .(U 586)

The above quotation from Ulysses represents part of similarities and dissimilarities of the two protagonists of the novel very accurately. Thus, James Joyce himself seems to be interested in comparing these two together. Although, Joyce substitutes the two names as stoom and Blephen to suggest the possibility of their final unification of souls, he at the same time believes in their individual differences. He reveals this through a question and answer in the novel: “what two temperaments did they individually represent? The scientific. The artistic” (U 603). Bloom represents, in Joyce’s opinion, a logical, father-like figure with mixed womanly emotions for children. He is not an academic or a formally educated man. His education as Blades also notices is a “simple, basic one” and actually he is a “self-educated” (125) man. One of his friends, for example, notices Bloom’s buying a book about astronomy and regards it as Bloom’s intellectuality and his difference of thoughts and beliefs. On the other hand, Stephen representing the artist tends to be a young, academically trained man. The language he uses is definitely different from that of Bloom, in spite of some similarities of their ideas to some extent. Blades in How to Study James Joyce mentions this primary difference quite cleverly as follows:

Where Stephen’s interior monologue clearly reveals his

erudition, in its sophisticated sequence of academic

allusions, that of Mr. Bloom tends to be wandering,

unfocused, piling up perceptions on top of each other

in an agglomeration of material. Generally, the contents

of Bloom’s monologue arise more often from

his immediate environment. It is characteristically

speculative and most often it focuses on people and

objects. Its component units tend to be shorter than

Stephen’s. (Blades 127)

Joyce again within the novel emphasizes that “though they did not see eye to eye in everything, a certain analogy there somehow was, as if both their minds were traveling, so to speak, in the one train of though” (U 577).

Edward Said opens up his celebrated book Representations of the Intellectual by giving Antonio Gramsci’s definition of intellectuals. According to Gramsci, all people could be regarded as intellectuals, but only some of them have the role of intellectuals in society. Regarding this definition, both Bloom and Stephen could be classified among the intellectuals. Besides, considering Said’s illustration of the intellectuals too, both Bloom and Stephen retain some intellectual characteristics.

Leopold Bloom, the kind-hearted, considerate, and self-educated Jewish Dubliner represents some intellectual signs. Bloom’s consideration for other people’s ideas is a basic one. This is what Molly mentions in her final soliloquy, comparing Bloom’s behavior with Boylan’s. Besides, Bloom stands for love, mutual love and understanding. Consequently, he believes in equality of all people, from any religion or any race. In this way, he definitely resists against authoritarian powers, from his very weak position, of course. This “speaking truth to power” and resisting “injustice” and cruelty is among the intellectual representations mentioned by Said. Furthermore, another outstanding feature of Bloom’s personality is his tolerance. He declares that he “stands for union of all, Jew, Moslem, and gentile” (462). What he yearns for is, somehow, utopian and reformists ideals rather than assassination and omission. This is what an intellectual should desire for human societies; Union of all, no superiority of any race or any nationality over others. Besides, his definition of nation “same people living in the same place . . . or also living in different places” (22-3) shows his open-minded and democratic view of differences among nations. Obviously, he rejects all the traditional definitions of, for instance, nation, race, country, or religion, because most of these traditional definitions tend to be pious and biased. Bloom stands fervently not only for a united nation, but he is severely against racism of any kind. He states, “it is a patent absurdity on the face of it to hate people because they live round the corner and speak another vernacular, so to speak” (U 563). In spite of his vulnerable position in Dublin, as a Jew and of a Hungarian origin, he speaks for international freedom, love, religious unity and justice. He does not easily incline to the conservative and prejudiced mass ideas of the majority of Dubliners. According to Said, Bloom could be an intellectual, because of his struggles to retain his individuality. Another important factor creditable about Bloom, regarding Said’s views on intellectuals is the fact that he can not be classified easily in defined existing groups. He breaks down the “stereotypes and reductive categories”. According to Howes, the reader will admire Bloom’s kind desires for all and his universality and “understands that this universalism’s ‘big words’ have an historical, troubling, and often hidden relationship to violence, both imperialist and nationalist” (263). Therefore, Bloom could be a simple Everyman intellectual. Bloom is one of those intellectuals who do not have a role of intellectual in society, but his illuminating ideas and views are comprehensive for simple men. He is not one of those intellectuals lost in a world of jargons and professionalism, demanding translation and interpretations to understand their words.

The other intellectual in exile is the young Stephen Dedalus. He is known as one of the most radical young intellectuals of modern times. The revolutionary Stephen Dedalus questions and denies the simplest issues accepted by the majority of people: “paternity may be a legal fiction. Who is the father of any son that any son should love him or he any son?” (U 207). This is in addition to Stephen’s rejection of all the traditional nets of Irish life: family, religion, and nationality. The nonconformist Stephen Dedalus, like Bloom, struggles very hard to retain his individuality and independence. The difference is that Stephen has fervent ambitions to fulfill his artistic ideals, while Bloom does not seem to be demanding of something for his self. Stephen is according to Said ,one of those intellectuals who “will not adjust to domesticity or to humdrum of routine” (17). Consequently, Stephen as an intellectual figure confronts “orthodoxy and dogma” and tries to “break down the stereotypes and reductive categories.” Therefore, a young, modern intellectual like Stephen is not “fit for domestication” (16). Besides, Stephen stands against authoritarian symbols and professes for individual liberation of thought and action. According to Said, an intellectual’s main career is related to education and freedom.

In Ulysses, Joyce introduces two different types of Dublin intellectuals and makes them meet each other. Joyce seems to be very excited and interested about their meeting. He repeatedly compares them. Joyce declares “though they didn’t see eye to eye in everything, a certain analogy there somehow, was, as if both their minds were traveling, so to speak, in one train of thought” (U 577). The main difference between these two protagonists’ intellectual ideas comes from the difference between their personalities. One of them stands for the artist and the other for the scientist. One is more radical and emotional, the other more logical and forward-looking with fatherly affections toward the younger artist. One of them is more of an academic intellectuals’ background whose specialized vocabulary in expressing his ideas is definitely different from the simple words of the “Everyman” character. Of course this categorization is not absolute, because Joyce mentions in the novel “there is a touch of the artist about Bloom” (U 234) and Stephen “proves by algebra that Hamlet’s grandson is Shakespeare’s grandfather and that he himself is the ghost of his own father” (U 24). Edward Said believes that a critic that is called by him a “public intellectual” must “refuse to be locked into the narrow professional specializations which produce their own arcane vocabulary and speak only to other specialists” (U 35). In this sense, Bloom is more a “public intellectual” than Stephen is; While Stephen at times is trapped in the “narrow professional specialization.” However, the young intellectual Stephen is hailed everywhere in Dublin society. This connotes the fact that Stephen’s language is not so much professional for them. However, he is more an academic intellectual in comparison with Bloom, the Everyman symbol.

Seamus Dean in an article in Semicolonial Joyce also mentions that the contrast between the two protagonists is one of the major dynamic elements in Ulysses:

The contrast between the abstract and speculative Stephen and

the physically immersed Bloom is one of the governing features

of the opening episodes. Eating, drinking, urinating, defecating,

burping and farting, bathing luxuriating in sensations of warmth

and taste, scent and odor, sexual fantasy and longing, Bloom is

grounded to a comically extravagant degree in the world of the

body, of the city-world and its streets, of the stereotype of

l’homme moyen sensual. With a comparable emphasis, Stephen

belongs to the world of theorist-intellectual who longs for a world

disembarrassed of the physical and the sexual, where the self can

achieve a purity of origin that radically distinguishes it from the

common or dominant forms of society. (Deane 32-33)

However, although there are some differences between Bloom and Stephen’s personalities, as Joyce himself mentions, there are some certain similarities as well, such as their isolation and dislocation in Dublin. Their exilic life and isolation in Dublin life is, of course, the result of various reasons, but they have been exiled from one common society. The similar features relating these two post-colonial people as intellectuals in exile is their insistence to retain their individuality and independent opinions, each one in its own personal style. Sherry also mentions this difference in an interesting manner,

Bloom’s idiom provides a usage as expansive and

comprehensive (and inexact) as his Everyman character

; this sense of word stands manifestly at odds with that

of the neo-scholastic Stephen, who is a lover (successful

or not) of linguistic precision, and whose words seek a

meaning as integral and well defined as the individual

he fables in the myth of the solitary, transcendent artist

Daedalus. (Sherry 85)

Joyce’s two protagonists in Ulysses are living an exilic life in colonial Dublin; both of them experience a physical, as well as, a spiritual exile at home. In their one day wander in Dublin there are some implications of their searching for a surrogate father and an adopted son. Bloom and Stephen’s sense of loneliness, alienation, miserable family life, and some distinguishing intellectual features in their treatments, as well as, an oppressing colonial life at a deeper level, sends Stephen and Bloom to a marginal position, in which, they choose an exilic life.