chapter  6
18 Pages

Richard Rowan's Deep Wound of Doubt

In many ways, the amatory struggles of Stephen Dedalus and Richard Rowan are similar. Both characters use romance as an impetus for artistic success, struggle with the conflict between love and freedom, and pursue exiles that push them away from their lovers and their individual ambitions. Thus, it is not surprising that Richard suffers a similar fate as Stephen, as the self-centered foundations of his amatory pursuits prevent him from achieving a “uni[on] … in body and soul in utter nakedness” with Bertha, his “bride in exile” (E 112; 111). Critics have long noted Richard’s narcissism in Exiles, casting him as a cruel manipulator who treats Bertha, Beatrice Justice, and Robert Hand as “moral and aesthetic pawn[s] to implement his own psychological liberation” (Henke Desire 92).1 However, while Richard is certainly fascinated with dissolving the monogamous bonds that constrain him, his meditations on love throughout Joyce’s play demonstrate a compassion yet to be seen in Joyce’s romantic protagonists.