"Is he a jew [sic] or a gentile or a holy Roman or a swaddler or what the hell is he…or who is he?" (Ulysses 438) asks Ned Lambert regarding the character of Leopold Bloom to the pub-dwellers at Barney Kiernan's. This appears to be a predominant question that runs through Ulysses and many characters in the novel have different answers to this question. For instance, Mulligan cautions Stephen in the "Scylla and Charybdis" episode to keep away from Bloom as he appears to be homosexual (279). At the other end of the spectrum, Lenehan has an appreciative view of Bloom in the "Lotus-eaters" episode where he says to J. J. M'Coy that "he's a cultured allroundman, Bloom is, … seriously. He's not one of your common or garden … you know … There's a touch of the artist about old Bloom" (301-2) .
[...] From the outset when we are introduced to Bloom, he is seen as wifely and motherly as he prepares Molly's breakfast and gives milk to the cat. On his way to the bath, he tries to mimic the walk of a woman he noticed earlier. We also learn that Bloom has fantasized about and experimented with crossdressing: tried her things on only once, a small prank, in Holles street” was Gerald converted me to be a true corset lover when I was a female impersonator in the High School play Vice Versa” (648-9). [...]
[...] And there is no doubt that Joyce had these in mind when creating Ulysses and Bloom, particularly Otto Weininger who declared the Jewish man as the most complete example of emasculation (Rado in M.A.I. 18). The Online Oxford English Dictionary defines androgyny as a “union of sexes in one individual; hermaphroditism”. Although at first glance Bloom does not appear to be hermaphroditic, there is something about his personality which signals to the reader that we are not dealing with a normal traditional male character. [...]
[...] Bloom has no son and, therefore, no heir to his throne too, last my race.” just as Joyce has no paternal authority to pass on because he has ventured outside the failing traditional conventions of past canons of literature: the “male artist-subject” and the “female muse-object”(Rado in M.A.I. 30) juxtaposition. However, it is my opinions that Joyce has regained his paternal authority through the use of his androgynous imagination by creating Bloom and Molly and this triumph is evident in the “Penelope” episode where, before he goes to sleep, Bloom asks Molly to get him his breakfast in bed the next morning because he never did a thing like that before as ask to get his breakfast in bed with a couple of eggs” (871)). [...]
[...] Also, indications such as makes a Masonic sign”(684) suggest that Bloom belongs to the Freemasons: object of the society [ ] being mutual help and the promotion of brotherly feeling among its members” (Online OED). Bloom's heated argument with the Citizen in the “Cyclops” episode also exemplifies his Masonic qualities: But it's no use, says he. Force, hatred, history, all that. That's not life for men and women, insult and hatred. And everybody knows that it's the very opposite of that that is life. [...]
[...] While Dr.Mulligan and the other sexologists pronounce Bloom as “bisexually abnormal” (613) and finished example of the new womanly Bloom undergoes a sex change and then proceeds to give birth to octuplets: I so want to be a mother” he exclaims. However, Bloom soon learns his place at the hands of Mistress Bella Cohen, the manly-woman: “Henceforth you are unmanned and mine in earnest, a thing under the yoke. Now for your punishment frock. You will shed your male garments” (647). [...]
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