Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Finnegan, the title character, whose name is derived from Finn MacCool, for two hundred years the legendary captain of Ireland’s warrior heroes; the name change is coined in a Joycean pun “Mister Finn, you’re going to be Mister Finnagain.” Finnegan, a hod carrier, has fallen from a ladder and is apparently dead. The fall is symbolic of the various falls (with implied corresponding resurrections) of humankind. At the wake, Finnegan’s friends become noisy and unrestrained, and in the course of the festivities, at the mention of the Irish word for “whiskey” (usquead-baugham!), Finnegan sits up, threatening to rise. The mourners soothe him back. With Finnegan’s demise, a new day is structured, and the hod carrier is supplanted by a man who has arrived to start life as Finnegan’s successor.

Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker

Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker, also Here Comes Everybody and Haveth Childer Everywhere. HCE, the newcomer, is a tavern keeper. In keeping with the metamorphosis, his initials are a carry over from Finnegan’s vocation of “hod, cement, and edifice.” Another connection between the two men lies in Earwicker’s emerging from Howth Castle and Environs, to which locale Finnegan’s interment fades in the story. HCE has wandered widely, leaving his progeny along the way, from Troy and Asia Minor, through the lands of the Goths, the Franks, the Norsemen; he has traveled in Britain and Eire; he has Germanic and Celtic manifestations; up through history he becomes Oliver Cromwell. In short, he is Here Comes Everybody and Haveth Childer Everywhere, representing civilization. At present, he is Earwicker, HCE, a sympathetic character, harrowed by relentless fate. In Phoenix Park (the Garden of Eden), he is caught exhibiting himself to several girls. This impropriety and the Dubliners’ resentment of HCE as an intruder give rise to rumors that plague Earwicker, as the scandal takes on aspects of troubled times throughout history. The tumult in Earwicker’s soul is consistent with the struggles of all battles in the past. The trials and tribulations of HCE continue until, after a description of the shadows on a windowblind of him and his wife in copulation, HCE turns from his wife. He is now the broken shell of Humpty Dumpty. The hopes of the parents are in the children. The cycle of man is ready to start anew.


Ann, also Anna Livia Plurabelle,...

(The entire section is 1004 words.)