The Blooms’ Amatory Metempsychosis
In previous chapters, I examined the self-serving motivations behind the amatory pursuits of Joyce’s characters. From this perspective, Joyce’s early fiction reads like a cautionary tale against narcissistic desire, as his protagonists’ promotion of their interests over those of their loved ones limits them to alienating forms of self-love that undermine their personal and political goals. With the introduction of Leopold Bloom, Joyce begins to articulate an alternative to narcissism by crafting a character whose empathy enables him to negotiate his body politic more effectively than his predecessors. For that reason, Joyce’s progression from Stephen and Richard to Bloom also constitutes a textual evolution from negative portrayals of self-centered desire towards a positive love ethic that can challenge the paralysis of everyday Dublin.