Daedalus and Odysseus: Two Mythic Heroes Influencing Fatherhood as Represented in James Joyce’s Ulysses. When you have a wife in graduate school, you often hear about books you have no real interest in reading. This is the case with me. I know far more about James Joyce and his novel Ulysses than I really care to at the moment! However, I do enjoy seeing my wife explore interesting academic themes so I can not really complain about having to read the various drafts of this paper she wrote.
Rather than trying to summarize it, I'll just post her conclusion here. If this looks interesting to you, follow the link above to read the whole article.
From the site:
In conclusion, Ulysses is one of the most complex novels in literature to analyze. Joyce offers layers of meaning in his novel—layers in which beginners can get lost. One of the most obvious layers, and a good place for beginners to start, is the layer of Greek influence. The first Greek influence discussed in this paper is the Daedalus myth. Stephen’s last name, Dedalus, suggests a connection to the myth. By consulting the myth, a reader can realize that Simon Dedalus, Stephen’s biological father fails to influence his son in the role of father and mentor. Leopold Bloom, in the role of what Campbell calls the “spiritual father,” emerges as the one who will most likely help Stephen avoid a similar fate as Icarus, and stay on a safe trajectory during the process of becoming an artist.
The most obvious Greek influence is the Homeric parallel, an aspect of the novel that has been studied by scholars for about as long as the novel has existed. It is quite apparent that Joyce structured his novel after the Greek myth the Odyssey. The structure helps a reader to identify the shared pattern of the story line which depends on the two male characters starting out on the journey apart and then ending up together. Readers can also identify the purpose of bringing the two male characters together (protecting the mother figure) by referring to the Homeric parallel.
Renowned Joyce scholar Hugh Kenner warns that using the parallel can be a dangerous method to use in regards to understanding the novel. It is important to remember that the novel is loosely based on Homer’s Odyssey. Acknowledging differences between the two works and cross referencing respected authors such as Harry Blamires, Margot Norris and Don Gifford, who provide Homeric parallels for every Episode of Ulysses, can help readers avoid being misled by the parallel.