Characters Discussed

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Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 910

Stephen Dedalus

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Stephen Dedalus, a proud and sensitive young Irishman. He is a writer and teacher called Kinch (from “kinchin,” meaning “child”) by one of his friends. In his search for the nature and meaning of life, Stephen examines all phases of his existence. History, he says, is a nightmare from which he is trying to awake. As he looks back to his childhood, he can remember only his family’s poverty and his father as a patron of taverns. His devotion to Ireland is not the answer to his search; she is an old sow, he believes, that eats her own young. His religion is not enough to make life purposeful. Stephen cannot dismiss his mother’s deathbed prayer that he avow his belief, and his inability to comply causes him to fret with remorse. Symbolically, Stephen is Telemachus, the son in search of a father. In effect, he finds a symbolic father in Leopold Bloom, an older man who takes care of Stephen after the young man has been in a street fight with British soldiers. Declining Bloom’s invitation to live with him and his wife, Stephen goes out into the darkened street to return to the Tower where he is staying and to his dissolute life among the young men and students he knows.

Leopold Bloom

Leopold Bloom, a Jewish advertising salesman who is, symbolically, Ulysses, the father of Telemachus. Bloom’s yearning for a son stems from the long-past death of Rudy, his eleven-day-old son. A patient husband, he is cuckolded by his wife’s business manager, but he is carrying on a furtive flirtation of his own. Bloom is Any Man, plodding through the daily routine of living—visiting bars, restaurants, newspaper offices, hospitals, and brothels of Dublin—because he hopes for something out of the ordinary but must be satisfied with the tawdry.

Malachi “Buck” Mulligan

Malachi “Buck” Mulligan, a medical student and the friend of Stephen Dedalus. He points up Stephen’s attitudes and philosophies, the two young men being opposites, the scientific and the philosophical. Buck says that death is a beastly thing and nothing else; it simply does not matter. According to Buck, Stephen’s religious strain is all mockery; if it were not, Buck says, Stephen could have prayed with his mother. Buck is doubtful that Stephen will ever produce any great writing. The model for Buck Mulligan was Oliver St. John Gogarty, an Irish physician and poet.

Marion “Molly” Tweedy Bloom

Marion “Molly” Tweedy Bloom, whose background differs greatly from her husband’s. Brought up in the atmosphere of a military post in Gibraltar, Molly, a lush creature and second-rate concert singer, finds life with her husband and life in Dublin dull. Her escape from the reality of the humdrum comes through love affairs with other men. Her latest lover is Blazes Boylan, a virile younger man. Bloom’s suggestion that Stephen Dedalus come to live with them gives Molly a momentary tingle as she contemplates the pleasure of having a still younger man in the house. Molly’s thoughts and reverie make up the final section of the book, as she considers the present but finally lapses into reminiscences of a sexual experience of her girlhood. She is Penelope to Bloom’s Ulysses.

Blazes Boylan

Blazes Boylan, Molly’s lover and the manager of a concert tour she is planning. The business aspect of their meetings does not delude Bloom.


Haines, a young Englishman who lives in the Tower with Stephen Dedalus, Buck Mulligan, and other students and artists. His indulgence in drinking orgies alienates the more ascetic Stephen. Because Haines has considerably more money than the other young men, he is frequently the butt of their sarcasm. Haines is an anti-Semite who fears that England may be taken over by German Jews.

Paddy Dignam

Paddy Dignam, Bloom’s friend, who dies of a stroke.

Father Coffey

Father Coffey, who performs the funeral rites over the body of Paddy Dignam.

Mrs. Breen

Mrs. Breen, a neighbor to whom Bloom gives the account of the funeral.

Mrs. Purefoy

Mrs. Purefoy, another neighbor, who, Mrs. Breen reports, is in a maternity hospital. Bloom’s visit to the hospital to inquire about her leads to his meeting with Stephen Dedalus.

Davy Byrnes

Davy Byrnes, a tavern owner whose establishment attracts all types of people who discuss many subjects.

Barney Kiernan

Barney Kiernan, the owner of a bar where Leopold Bloom gets into an argument with a patriotic Irishman and is ejected.

Mr. Deasy

Mr. Deasy, the headmaster of the school where Stephen teaches. Deasy probably assesses Stephen’s aptitudes rather exactly when he tells the younger man that he is more a learner than a teacher. In lamenting the influx of Jews in England, Deasy points out to Stephen that Ireland is the only country where Jews have not been persecuted—because it never let them in.



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Latest answer posted June 19, 2015, 12:52 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

Ethel, and


Lily, some of Stephen’s pupils. Their indifference and ineptness are discouraging to their young teacher, giving rise to Deasy’s prognosis of Stephen’s career.


Milly, the Blooms’ daughter. Her existence does not mitigate Bloom’s longing for a son, nor does it lessen Molly’s desire for romance and release from tedium.

Gertie MacDowell

Gertie MacDowell, a young girl who exhibits herself to Leopold Bloom on Sandymount shore.

Myles Crawford

Myles Crawford, a newspaper editor.


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Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1586

A. E.
The pseudonym of George Russell, A. E. is a highly respected Irish poet. He associates with other established literary people, a group which includes Haines and Mulligan but which excludes Stephen Dedalus, though he wishes to be a member.

Richard Best
Richard Best, a librarian at the National Library, takes part in the Scylla and Charybdis episode discussion of Hamlet. His comments represent conventional views of the play.

Leopold Bloom
Leopold Bloom, a thirty-eight-year-old canvasser, lives with his wife Marion at 7 Eccles Street in Dublin. Bloom is an empathetic, sensitive, earthy, sensual person who responds to the weather, to the smell of organ meat cooking, to women he sees on the street, and who puzzles over laws of physical science. He loves his daughter, fifteen-year-old Milly, and still mourns for his son Rudy, who died when he was a baby about eleven years earlier. On June 16, 1904, Bloom attends a funeral, visits a newspaper office and the National Library, has dinner at a hotel, and meets up with Stephen Dedalus in a brothel and invites him home. On this day in Dublin, Leopold Bloom anticipates and dreads his wife’s infidelity with Blazes Boylan, yet he himself continues a clandestine correspondence with Martha Clifford and masturbates on Sandymount beach as he watches Gerty MacDowell.

Marion Bloom
Voluptuous Marion Bloom, called Molly, is thirty-four years old and a professional singer. Her father was a British officer, and her mother, Lunita Laredo, was a Spanish Jew. Molly grew up in Gibraltar, and presumably she moved to Dublin with her father sometime in 1886. Since the neonatal death of her second child, Rudy, she has not had a sexual relationship with her husband or any other man, but on this day, while he is away from home, she has a sexual encounter with Hugh Boylan.

Millicent Bloom
Millicent Bloom, called Milly, is the fifteen-year-old daughter of Leopold and Molly Bloom. She lives in Mullingar and is studying to become a photographer. On this day, Leopold enjoys a letter from Milly, in which she thanks him and her mother for birthday gifts.

Hugh Boylan
Hugh Boylan, called Blazes, is Molly Bloom’s concert manager. Boylan is a womanizer, a fancy dresser, and man about town. He walks in slick, highly polished shoes and his car jingles through the streets making a sound reminiscent of Molly’s bedsprings.

Josie Powell Breen
Josie Breen was years earlier a girlfriend of Leopold Bloom. She is now the wife of Dennis Breen, a paranoid who requires a lot of her attention and care.

The Citizen
This unnamed character, prominent in the “Cyclops” episode, is a vitriolic, narrow-minded nationalist, in favor of a free Ireland and willing to blame social ills on foreigners, especially Jews. In the pub, he verbally attacks Leopold Bloom, who responds logically and withdraws quickly. The citizen is the kind of man who sits around in a pub waiting for someone else to buy him a few drinks and then sounds off in a political harangue.

Martha Clifford
Martha Clifford writes letters to Leopold Bloom, whom she does not know face-to-face, addressing him by his pseudonym, Henry Flower. Martha’s letters indicate that she is poorly educated and not particularly daring in pursuing a sexual relationship with Bloom. Yet she enjoys the titillation of their clandestine correspondence.

Bella Cohen
Bella Cohen is the madam in charge of the brothel that Stephen Dedalus and his friends visit in Nighttown. She is domineering, with a large build. Concerned with appearances, she attacks the rowdy visitors in her establishment.

Martin Cunningham
One of the mourners at Patrick Dignam’s funeral, Martin Cunningham takes the initiative to start a collection for Dignam’s widow and son. He is sympathetic and kindly, speaking up on Bloom’s behalf several times during the day. In the late afternoon, he and Bloom visit Dignam’s widow in Sandymount Strand.

Garrett Deasy
Misogynistic, anti-Semitic Garrett Deasy is the headmaster of the boys’ school where Stephen teaches history. Mr. Deasy has written an essay on hoof-and-mouth disease and wants it published in local papers. He gives it to Stephen, asking him to present it to the newspaper editors with whom he is acquainted. He suspects that Stephen is not suited to a professional life in teaching.

Dilly Dedalus
Dilly Dedalus, one of Simon’s daughters and Stephen’s sister, has as much natural intelligence as Stephen has, but she is unlikely to have his opportunities to become learned. Nonetheless, she seeks to become educated and with a penny buys a used French primer in order to study the language. She waits on the street to get a shilling from her father and take the money home to her sisters who are washing shirts there and would have virtually nothing to eat were it not for the soup brought to them by a local nun.

Simon Dedalus
Father of Stephen and four daughters, Simon Dedalus recently buried his wife May and still mourns her. Simon has quite a good singing voice and likes to entertain his drinking friends with funny stories. Born in Cork and once rather successful, Simon has recently had financial problems. During this day, he spends money in pubs, doing nothing to help or protect his daughters at home. Simon is highly critical of Stephen, and when Stephen is asked if Simon is his father, Stephen demurs.

Stephen Dedalus
Recently home in Dublin from a year or two in Paris where he studied medicine, Stephen Dedalus is an intellectual and would-be poet, a well-read young man who takes himself very seriously and is depressed after his mother’s recent death and his ongoing alienation from Ireland and the Catholic Church. A teacher at a boys’ school, Stephen spends his time talking about his literary theories and drinking with his friends. At this point in his life, he is aware of having not found his professional place. He dissociates himself from his sisters and is alienated from his father, Simon.

Ben Dollard
A drinking friend of Simon Dedalus, Ben Dollard has a good voice and enjoys singing in pubs. He performs with Simon at the Ormond Hotel.

Lydia Douce
Lydia Douce is a barmaid at the Ormond Hotel. She has a crush on Boylan. She and Mina Kennedy are seen hanging out the second-floor window watching the viceregal cavalcade go by in the streets below.

John Eglinton
A published essayist, John Eglinton spends time in the National Library, where he hears Stephen expound on his theory about Hamlet. He finds Stephen over-confident and egotistical.

Richard Goulding
Suffering from chronic back pain, Richard Goulding, called Richie, has dinner with Bloom at the Ormond Hotel. Goulding is the brother of the deceased May Dedalus and thus Stephen’s uncle.

An Englishman who is temporarily staying at the Martello Tower with Buck Mulligan and Stephen Dedalus, Haines has a bad dream during the night of June 15, waking the others by shooting a gun at an imagined tiger. Later, on June 16, Haines, an Oxford student, socializes with Buck and other literati, who exclude Stephen from their circle.

Joe Hynes
A local newspaper reporter, Joe Hynes borrows three pounds from Leopold Bloom but conveniently forgets to pay back the loan. He meets the narrator of the Cyclops episode in the street and accompanies him to Barney Kiernan’s pub for a conversation with an unnamed character referred to as the citizen.

Corny Kelleher
Corny Kelleher is the undertaker who officiates at Patrick Dignam’s funeral and is later seen in his shop doorway. Corny intervenes on their behalf when Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom get involved with two policemen on the street near Nighttown.

Mina Kennedy
Mina Kennedy is a barmaid at the Ormond Hotel. She and Lydia Douce flirt with their male customers. Blond Mina is more reserved than Lydia. Both women are seen hanging out the second-floor window watching the viceregal cavalcade go by in the streets below.

Lenehan is a sports editor for a local Dublin newspaper. Disliked by Molly Bloom, Lenehan makes fun of Leopold Bloom. He is a friend of Simon Dedalus.

An old friend of Stephen Dedalus, Lynch is a medical student. He is involved with the prostitute, Kitty Ricketts.

Thomas W. Lyster
Quaker librarian at the National Library, Thomas Lyster patiently hears Stephen expound on his Hamlet theory and is open-minded about it.

Gerty MacDowell
Gerty MacDowell is influenced by romance literature and women’s magazines and takes special care of her clothes and skin. She dreams of meeting a strong, handsome man who will marry her. Bloom is sexually aroused by her when he sees her on Sandymount Strand in the Nausicaa episode.

John Henry Menton
John Menton was once Leopold Bloom’s rival for Molly. A lawyer by trade, Menton was Patrick Dignam’s boss. Menton looks down on Bloom.

Malachi Mulligan
Popular Malachi Mulligan, called Buck, is a medical student and friend of Stephen Dedalus. Buck is lively, theatrical, and able to satirize anything. He is well-read and tells funny, off-color jokes. Neither Bloom nor Simon Dedalus thinks well of Buck.

J. J. O’Molloy
J. J. O’Molloy is an unemployed lawyer who on this day is unable to borrow money. At Barney Kiernan’s pub, he defends Bloom.

Kitty Ricketts
A prostitute with aspirations for a better life, Kitty Ricketts dates Lynch.

George Russell
See A. E.

Florry Talbot
One of the prostitutes at Bella Cohen’s establishment, Florry Talbot entertains the medical students who visit the brothel with Stephen.

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