University of Cambridge

Daedalean Exile

Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo…(P1).

Stephen Dedalus, the young modern intellectual of Dublin, leaves his hometown at the end of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and chooses a life of self-imposed exile to cherish his artistic desires. Stephen reappears at the beginning of Ulysses; however, in spite of his return to home he feels a deeper sense of loneliness and exile. In this article, Stephen Dedalus’ state of exile and alienation which basically starts with his alienation and exile from his family, his religion, Catholic Church, and his motherland, Ireland. This sense of exile and alienation initiates from Portrait then continues and deepens into Ulysses. Afterward considering Edward Said’s view that the notion of exile is closely associated with the intellectual, Stephen’s intellectual exile and its artistic representations would be studied. “Tuckoo” in some biological encyclopedias is known as a kind of bird, which always lives alone and when it is time to lay eggs, a Tuckoo goes to lay eggs in other birds’ nests. Simon Dedalus is retelling the Tuckoo’s story for the very young Stephen. This is what could be called Joyce’s dexterity, because from the very beginning he provides his discerning reader what could be Stephen’s life like? His life that Joyce introduces from A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and continues to Ulysses.

The story of Portrait concerns Stephen’s growing up alienation from the inflexible social environment. Exile is what Stephen chooses in order to save his artistic desires and ambitions. Joyce made Stephen conscious of his name and the mythical role associated with it. In Ulysses, some Dubliner also refers to Stephen Dedalus’s name: “you make good use of the name . . . fabulous artificer, the hawk like man. You flew. Whereto? New heaven . . .” (210). Stephen struggles to be a Daedalus, a skillful one who by the aid of artful wings tries to fly away from the self-made maze of his life. His wings he makes in Portrait are to save him in exile, too. He leaves behind his motherland, his religion, and his family to live in exile, while his mother believes at the closing lines of Portrait that Stephen must learn away from home and friends what the heart is and what he feels. Stephen Dedalus reappears at the beginning of Ulysses. His mother is dead for about one year now; his artistic attempts seemingly failed at Paris. He has left his home and is living at Martello tower, where he pays the rent, but Mulligan, his Irish, vicious friend keeps the keys. There is a third friend living with them for some days in spite of Stephen’s dissatisfaction, an English tourist. Mulligan, as Stephen calls him, has the role of a “usurper” in Stephen’s life, one of the many in his life, though. At the end, Stephen decides that he will not return to Martello tower, or to his father’s house. Therefore, even returning from the physical exile from Paris, he is still an outcast, an exile at home. Cawelti believes that the two male protagonists of Ulysses are both physical and spiritual exiles in Dublin. He states that Stephen Dedalus’s exile goes back to earlier times:


Stephen Dedalus deeply alienated from the dominant powers

ruling Ireland-the British empire and the Roman Catholic

Church- has gone to France some time before the novel

opens on June 16, 1904. But, he has failed in his attempt

at exile. Driven by guilt about his mother’s death and his

ambiguous feelings about her, he has returned to Ireland,

only to feel himself no longer at home in any way. His

ultimate fate is uncertain, but if he follows the pattern

of his creator after the end of the novel he will go into

permanent exile. (Cawelti 42)

Edward Said in his book Representations of the Intellectual about the modern, young intellectuals like Buzarov, Protagonist of Fathers and Sons, sates that:


The first thing we notice about him is that he has severed

his ties with his own parents, and seems less a son than

a sort of self- produced character, challenging routine,

assailing mediocrity and clichés, asserting new scientific

and unsentimental values that appears to be rational and

progressive. (Said 14-15)

Edward Said’s idea is also applicable to Joyce’s modern young intellectual, Stephen Dedalus, as well. Being unsatisfied with his family relations, his obedient, passive, and pious mother; his heedless, incapable, and indolent Father, Stephen tries to break away with them as soon as possible and replace the lost family and father with a self-produced identity as an artist. Stephen’s sufferings from family problems are excessive and that causes him to stand away from his family. This is the situation of Stephen’s life in Portrait and the fact that his parents could be the first restricting elements at his home; thus, he tries to escape from them and to take refuge in another world. He imposes exile on himself and leaves behind his family to make a self-made world of art, in which, he is the authoritative figure. Deane declares that Stephen’s conflict within his family is a very painful conflict and starts from Portrait and continues into Ulysses:

It was a conflict between a son and his parents-cultural, religious,

biological-and a desperate attempt to go beyond the terms set by

such a conflict by producing a theory of the self as its own parent,

or, less desperately, a desire of the self for alternative; surrogate

parents who would permit the imagination to live its necessarily

vicarious existence. This is the plight of Stephen Dedalus in

Ulysses. (Deane 41)

One interesting point mentioned by some critics such as Gibbons in Semicolonial Joyce is that, this chaotic and turbulent condition within the family from which Stephen escapes, could be as a result of the colonial condition of Ireland. Or on the other hand this condition, in a broader scale, could symbolize the chaotic condition of Ireland. According to Gibbons:

to call into question the integrity of the family was

to undermine the foundational fictions of the colonial

public sphere, and it was perhaps this porousness

between public and private life which led Joyce to

proclaim in an early letter to Nora: “my mind rejects

the whole present social order and Christianity-home

,the recognized virtues, classes of life, and religion

doctrines. How could I like the idea of home?

(Letters II, 48) [Italics mine]. (Gibbons 168)

Stephen also claims in Ulysses that he has no home to go. No home, no hometown, no motherland. The best policy for the in progress artist is to dwell in the realm of exile, “silence, exile, and cunning.” Before moving on to investigate Stephen Dedalus’s state of actual and metaphoric exile in more details notice Joyce’s careful observance of the complicated Irish occupation condition. Joyce in his 1907 lecture in Trieste, Italy, entitled “Ireland, The Island of Saints And Sages” confesses that “I do not see what good it does to fulminate against the English tyranny while the Roman tyranny occupies the palace of soul” (173). Joyce equates English and Catholic Church in their tyrannical influences. It seems that both Joyce and Stephen in Portrait and Ulysses are aware of the destructive influence of these two forces: the imperialistic force and the tyranny of Catholicism. One has occupied the motherland, while the other has occupied the realm and freedom of soul, of the intellectual spirit; the intellectual spirit attributed to ancient Dublin and Ireland, as Joyce mentions in his Trieste lecture.

Actual Exile of Stephen Dedalus

I will not sleep here tonight, home.Also I can not go. (U 29)

Stephen Dedalus’s physical exile and dislocation in Ulysses, is not new for readers of Joyce and Portrait, where, Stephen from the very beginning is an actual exile. As a little boy, he is sent to another city to school. This is his first experience of a hard time away from home, actually, his first experience of physical exile. He especially misses his mother. He cannot forget her red nose and eyes, when they were saying goodbye, for a long time. He leaves home for the first time to receive a good education his father wishes for him. Nevertheless, his artistic desires and ambitions growing up inside, he struggles to remove the outside, physical obstacles, such as, his biological family, his established religion, and nationality. His final choice to go and live in exile, rather than to live amid familiar, but restricting nets is the beginning of an adventurous flight toward an exilic life. His heart yearns for the “oceanic silence over the flowing waters” (P 135). In Ulysses, returning home from an experience of actual exile abroad, he feels more intensely that he is not home in anyway, anymore. Once more, he fancies “a voice, sweetened and sustained, called to him from the sea … it called again” (U 29). Buck Mulligan Stephen’s Irish friend who is living with him at Martello tower and exploits Stephen and the English tourist, Haines, are aware of the fact that Stephen will not stay long in Ireland. Perhaps that is why he misuses Stephen’s money and place. He tells Stephen that you do not seem to stay long here. Besides, Stephen will not fight over what he has lost long ago. Stephen Dedalus, back to Dublin and home after some time of living away, not only feels his dislocation and alienation more deeply than before, but he has become more sensible as a prisoner of two masters. He says I feel like a “servant” of two masters: an English master as well as an Italian one.

By these two masters, as his “color is rising” he means “the imperial British state” and “the holy Roman Catholic and apostolic church” (U 26). This is how he feels at his home. Haines believes that Stephen can free himself. He tells Stephen “after all, I should think you are able to free yourself. You are your own master, it seems to me” (U 26). Mr. Deasy, the principal of the school Stephen is teaching at for a short time, also perceives the point that Stephen “will not remain in here very long at this work” (U 41). The mastery Haines and Mr. Deasy talk about indicates the fact that the people around Stephen also perceive his being dislocated and are aware of the fact that Stephen’s return into actual exile is very probable. Therefore, some friends and acquaintances around him, also feel that he is a stranger at home, in spite of the fact that many of the people who know him, hail him as a successful literary young man outside and inside. Some of them also ask Stephen: “are you not happy in your home?” (U 262). This is the way he feels at his hometown: “I have no place to sleep . . . (U 537). Stephen’s strong sense of alienation and hatred from his home and his country, might be applicable to his detest from the whole condition in Ireland. As he declares in Portrait, he believes that his ancestors gave in Ireland to a group of foreigners. He is very sensitive to what has happened to their country by the means of the English masters. Living in Ireland, Stephen’s soul feels more deeply the subjection to the two masters. For Stephen, as for Joyce himself, even the language they are speaking in Ireland belongs to the English master, before it is theirs.

According to Howes, “Stephen’s estrangement from the language in which he writes makes a classical colonial condition, in which the colonizers try to force their language and culture upon the colonized” (257). Therefore, it is possible to conclude that Stephen’s rejection of all the physical and actual idea of home, family, religion, and country could be in fact the rejection of the colonial and imperial force dominating his belongings. In order to unchain himself from the foreigner force, he has to leave behind at first, the physical home, church, and country. The first step in achieving his goal is to impose an exilic life on himself. Going into actual and physical exile indicates, at a deeper level, his spiritual exile at home. In the following part Stephen’s symbolic exile, as well as his intellectual exile as an artist would be studied.

Metaphoric and Spiritual Exile of Stephen Dedalus

Stephen Dedalus’s spiritual exile, alongside with his actual exile, begins from Portrait and continues into Ulysses. Stephen from his early teenage years becomes disoriented and homeless among many alien traditions. In postcolonial studies, this kind of spiritual exile is common in colonial societies where, the dominating political force tries to dictate his cultural and artistic ideals on the colonized people’s society. Such condition derives artists and intellectuals into exile. They feel dislocated and disoriented among a familiar culture, which is being manipulated in the hands of others. Stephen’s artistic soul yearns for a free environment to breathe in. However, from his early twenties in Portrait, when he is justifying his final flight for his friend, Cranly, he is aware of the fact that there is not anything as “free thinking in this country.” Ireland is not a proper place to express his artistic and intellectuals thoughts; he says, “I also am sure that there is no such thing as free thinking in as much as all thinking must be bound by its own laws” (P 108). Stephen Dedalus’s metaphoric exile becomes more serious when one assumes his role as an intellectual in a colonized society; a society like Ireland with a very long history of subjection. In modern times, the idea of exile based on Edward Said is closely associated with the notion of intellectuals.

Stephen Dedalus is known as one of the most famous radical intellectual figures. According to Said in Representations of the Intellectual, one of the intellectuals’ features is their nonconformity toward the socially accepted norms. Of course, it does not mean that they are anarchists, but they are reformists. Stephen’s nonconformity and unorthodoxy is revealed very easily through his thorough rejection of three of the most crucial authoritative social sites of family, religion, and nationality. Stephen rejects to be the good son of mother, because she wishes him to decorate himself with one of the most threatening chains of slavery; a slavery of both body and soul, in Stephen’s view at least. He rejects to enter the gray world of priesthood, for he believes in a self-created world of ingenious artist. Stephen, on the other hand, is very skeptical of the benefits of any liberating movements to renovate the ancient Ireland. When his friends at college ask him to join the group and sign up for membership, he rejects. As Said in the introduction of Representations of the Intellectual indicates, an intellectual is someone who cannot “easily be co-opted by government or corporations”, and also an intellectual usually questions “patriotic nationalism” and “corporate thinking.” Stephen drops the Gaelic class as a consequence of this kind of beliefs and ignores his friend’s advice of “try to be one of us” (P 170). However, for Stephen retaining his individuality and his individual independent mind is too dear, even if he is told at college that “you are an antisocial being, wrapped up in yourself” (P 103). He is called an “antisocial” person, because he does not join the nationalistic movements. Since he appreciates his own individuality better than anything else, he will not join the crowd. He declares, “you are right to go your way. Leave me to go mine” (P 115).

The interesting point is that his rejection of the nationalistic movements could be at a deeper level the rejection of the colonial and imperial force exploiting his country and culture. He is aware of the fact that as far as Irish people’s destiny is in the control of the British master, talking of liberating the motherland is vain; for one real reason: Ireland has proved to be disloyal toward her patriotic sons. She had given them away one by one. One of the examples has been Parnell, an outstanding example in Stephen’s mind. Repeatedly, Stephen’s rejection of his country and religion are associated to each other in some ways. The Roman Catholic Church, the priest, and the Pope, as well as the British imperial have occupied the Irish people’s lives; one has occupied the realm of the soul, and the latter the realm of motherland. Church has shown its hostility toward any nationalistic movements several times.

For Stephen and many other intellectuals in Ireland, Catholic Church and the British master have the same role in creating hard times for Irish race. Based on the grounds that all these three traditional Irish values are considered “nets” for Stephen’s individual ambitions and desires, he should live a miserable life among all the familiar, but restricting culture. He is considered an outcast and a marginal character at such a society. Although, he lives at his native land, he experiences a spiritual exile. To become free from this metaphoric and spiritual exile, he should impose a physical exile on himself. He dares to leave behind all the actual reasons of his symbolic exile. This intellectual young Stephen is what Said believes to be the radical and rebellious product of modern times, kind of people who question, not to say undermine, the authoritative sites. For Stephen, the young intellectual artist, language, the medium of his literary expression is an alien factor. Because, as mentioned before, this language belongs to the English master, before it is his.

However, he tries to master this means of expression in his own literary world. As Howes in Cambridge Companion to Joyce mentions, “Critics have often suggested that Joyce’s linguistic virtuosity constitutes a project to re-colonize the English language, to take it away from the imperial masters” (257). This is what is true of the exilic character of Stephen at college and when he returns from Paris to Dublin in Ulysses. Gibbons in an article included in Semicolonial Joyce mentions that Stephen in Portrait notices that “home” is one of the words, along with “ale” and “master”, that sound different on English and Irish lips, and we may “speculate that the latter two words, with their associations of alcohol and colonial domination, are not unrelated to the different resonances of “home” in Ireland (166). Stephen Dedalus, both in Portrait and Ulysses experiences a sense of “half-involvements” and “half-detachments” with his home and language. He finally decides to detach himself from Ireland and all its belongings. While before his mother’s death, he had some ties to return to Ireland, now that he does not have such emotional ties anymore, he might decide to fly into permanent exile; the permanent exile, which its physical and spiritual types are deeply connected to each other. The final word on this part before going to the next part, in which, Stephen’s artistic and intellectual exile would be studied, is Howes quotation from Semicolonial Joyce. Howes believes that Stephen’s exile is a complex one:

struggling with competing ways of transforming the

local affiliations he has lost into membership in a

national community. This process depends upon two

major factors. First, Stephen’s geographical movement,

other displacements, and the homesickness they produce

, and second, fantasized but threatening construction of

rural Ireland. (Howes 70)

Intellectual Exile of the Young Artist

Young Stephen Dedalus’s pays a dear price to fulfill his artistic desires. Joyce traces the process of his character’s growth in becoming an artist. As mentioned before, Stephen rejects the authority of all the traditional Irish nets, because they betray his artistic growth. Therefore, he takes refuge in the realm of art, because in such situation, according to Deane, in Cambridge Companion to Joyce, “only art is beyond betrayal. It is the only activity to which Stephen gives his fidelity because it is a form of production in which his own authorship is secure. The problem is, of course, that Stephen is always about to become an artist” (43). Stephen’s early conflict in Portrait to his struggles in Ulysses is to liberate his lonely soul among the many threatening traditions for his artistic process. His strategy to succeed in his decision is to make a pair of artistic wings; the artistic wings which could assure his escape and a triumphant flight. The point here is that Stephen does not believe in the old Ireland’s art to be liberating. He does not believe in local art at all. He, like his creator Joyce and at times his counterpart, believes in the international rather than traditional art. Stephen becomes more alienated, when he rejects, for example, to submit to Gaelic language class, or to stick hard to Irish ideals of art or nationality. His logical perception of the Irish art is far from a biased view. He believes that Irish art is the “cracked looking glass of a servant” (U 46).According to Leonard, Stephen by this definition of Irish art perhaps is “hinting at the danger of staring back into an idealized past in order to obscure the pain of an oppressed present and an apparently intractable future” (100).

The true artist, here, does not try to conform to social norms to make progress in his process of becoming an artist at home. Stephen rejects to conform to the Irish political history as well as its literary history. His alienation from both, the political as well as literary history of his motherland, makes him a lonelier exilic figure at home. As mentioned and emphasized in the previous paragraphs, in Said’s opinion in Representations of the Intellectual, an intellectual figure confronts “orthodoxy and dogma” and tries to “break down the stereotypes and reductive categories.” He also believes that an intellectual like Joyce’s young, radical Stephen Dedalus is not “suitable and fit for domestication” (16), because the intellectual “will not adjust to domesticity or to humdrum of routine” (17). Said emphasizes again on the fact that Stephen’s entire early “career” is a “seesaw” between rejection and acceptance of the three nets. On the other hand in Said’s view Stephen should “develop a resistant intellectual consciousness before he becomes an artist,” that is because he is a “young provincial and the product of a colonial environment” (16-17). Stephen Dedalus is entirely aware of the colonially occupied Ireland’s dead environment. He soon realizes that he will not be able to develop his artistic and intellectual self, except by passing through “the boundaries of mythic individualism, which constrained equally his sense of artistic self and his use of expressive language” (Sherry 91). Only in this way, he could fully realize an emotional, artistic and intellectual life. To achieve this purpose, he had to leave behind any restricting object and concept and to live in a volunteer exile. He is sure that conforming to any ideological institutes, such as, Student’s National Movement at college would just undermine and reduce his individuality.

Thus, based on Said another intellectual sign, which Stephen represents, is the fact that he questions and rejects “patriotic nationalism, corporate thinking.” Stephen in Ulysses again shouts his nonconformity and declares that “Ah non, par example! The intellectual imagination! With me all or not at all, Non Serviam” (517). Stephen by declaring “all or not at all” might have in mind the chaotic situation of Ireland on the whole; Its political, religious, social, economic, artistic, and intellectual situation of Ireland. Joyce in his Trieste lecture of 1907 criticizes all the brutal British exploitations on Ireland, he particularly emphasizes on economic and intellectual damage caused by imperial force. For Stephen the imperial forces, British and Catholic, exploit the artistic and intellectual factors in Ireland as well. The dominating shadow of, for example, Catholic Church on the relationship between the family members in Stephen’s case, a son and a mother; or the dark shadow of the British force on the political situation of the motherland derives an intellectual mind like Stephen’s to prefer “all or not at all.” By rejecting this “all”, Stephen is determined to maintain his individuality. He seems to be aware of the colonization of not only the land, but of the minds. In Ulysses, he declares, “struggle for life is the law of existence but modern philatelist, notably the tsar and the king of England, have invented arbitration. (he taps his brow), But in here it is I must kill the priest and the king” (521).Therefore, Stephen believes in the idea that thinking as an individual can be the redeeming factor in his life. Stephen’s intellectual exile becomes intensified when he struggles to make his way through an artistic career of self-creation. When his desire to create a perfect world is not fulfilled in the real occupied colonial Ireland, consequently, he quests for freedom and individuality in a world of art; an art world based on his own literary theory, in which disloyalty does not have any synonyms, but antonyms. The repressing, both physical and spiritual, domestic condition, the colonized literary and artistic culture, as well as, the possibility of falling from the “intellectual prominence with an allusion to the sounds of Daedalus’s counterpart, Milton’s Lucifer, on the floor of hell” (Sherry82) , makes Stephen to choose a life of “silence, exile, and cunning” (P 247). This choice to live in an artistic and intellectual exile is therefore, for Stephen a heeling force. That might be because of the fact that according to Said living in exile creates a sharp vision for the intellectual artist, a kind of multi-dimensional view of things. The exiles see and notice, at least, two aspects of things; what it is now and how it came to be like this. This could be one of Stephen’s purposes to live in exile, to give force to his artistic vision.

Furthermore, Stephen’s view of this breaking away and exile is ambitious to some extent. At the end of Portrait dreaming of a utopia, he wishes to fly by so high, by the means of his artistic wings, in order that he can “forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.” Finally, Stephen Dedalus in Ulysses declares, “there can be no reconciliation . . . , if there has not been a sundering” (195). He might be in search of a kind of “reconciliation” in his artistic and intellectual exile, flying away, returning, and again …. Flying back or not?!? Restricting nets of family, nationality, and religion ultimately leads Stephen Dedalus to leave his motherland and live an exilic life. His physical exile starts at his early stages of life. Stephen’s alienating himself from the physical idea of home, country, and church denotes a deeper kind of exile, that is his spiritual exile. Stephen’s rejection of authoritative status and not confirming to any preconceived norms, and his rebellious characteristics ,which makes him not classifiable, makes Stephen a good example of an intellectual figure, fed up with the miserable condition of life in his motherland, living a painful exilic life either away from home, or at home.

Works Cited

Attridge, Derek, ed. Cambridge Companion to James Joyce .Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 1990.-.

—“Reading Joyce.” Cambridge Companion to James Joyce. Ed, Derek AttridgeCambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990, pp. 1-27.

—. Semicolonial Joyce. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Butler, Christopher. “Joyce the Modernist.” Cambridge Companion to James Joyce.Ed, Derek Attridge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990. 67-86.

Cawelti, John. “Eliot, Joyce, and Exile.” ANQ 14, 4 (2001): 38-45.

Cullingford, Elizabeth Butler. “Phoenician Genealogies and Oriental Geographies:Joyce, Language, and race.” Semicolonial Joyce. Ed, Derek Attridge. Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 2000. 219-239.

Deane, Seamus. “Joyce the Irishman.” Cambridge Companion to James Joyce. Ed. Derek Attridge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,1990. 28-48. Ellman, Richard, and Ellsworth Mason, eds. Critical Writings of James Joyce .London:Maclehose, 1959.

Gibbons, Luke. “Have You No Homes To Go? Joyce and the Politics of Paralysis.” Semicolonial Joyce. Ed. Derek Attridge .Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,2000. 150-171.

Howes, Marjorie. “Joyce, Colonialism, and Nationalism.” Cambridge Companion to James Joyce. Ed. Derek Attridge .Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990. 254-271.

James, Joyce. Ulysses with a Short History by Richard Ellman .London: Penguin Books,1969.

Said, Edward. Reflections on Exile and Other Essays. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000.

—.Representations of the Intellectual. New York: Pantheon Books, 1994.

Sherry, Vincent. James Joyce: Ulysses .Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

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