Ulysses

An Extraordinary Ordinary Man

As Leopold Bloom goes through the ordinary motions of a single day, he tries at times to add excitement and mystery to his life so that he may imagine himself as an extraordinary man with exceptional problems. Bloom does this so as to dispel the frightening notion that he is only an ordinary man with relatively commonplace troubles. If he can imagine that he is an extraordinary man in extraordinary circumstances, his tragedies gain a sense of importance, instead of being meaningless miseries that he must bear alone, in silence. Bloom's "affair" with Martha is just one of the ways that he attempts to add excitement to his life, so that he does not feel quite so ordinary. The fact that he has a forbidden secret lends excitement and mystery to Bloom's life, as does the actual act of keeping his affair hidden from everyone else. Bloom takes unnecessary pains to avoid having his communication with Martha discovered, indulging his fantasy that somebody might care about his life. Additionally, Bloom seems, at times, almost to revel in his sadness about Molly's affair, presumably because this allows him to imagine himself a tragic hero valiantly bearing his hard life. Bloom is unquestionably an ordinary man, and...

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