Publication Date

April 2019


Joseph Fitzpatrick




English (United States)


Ulysses and Omeros are both foundational national texts that are deeply steeped in the colonized island spaces that produced them. Joyce’s Dublin is a teeming epicenter of Irish life; his characters, fully realized and highly localized Irish subjects. The same can be said of Walcott’s St. Lucia and the islanders who inhabit it. This thesis aims at demonstrating that both pieces, however, seek to situate themselves in a globalized colonialist context that goes beyond their respective islands. Ulysses does this through Gibraltar; Omeros, through Ireland. Gibraltar provides Joyce with a connecting axis back to the Greek myth from which his text so heavily draws while simultaneously giving him a space through which he is able to link his book to modern British colonialism and expansion. The space is compounded in Molly’s mind with Ireland, as are the people she knows from both places, in moments of fluidity that blend the boundaries between nations and identities. Molly’s body becomes an embodiment of both Ireland and Gibraltar, two distinct yet fundamentally connected entities, and Molly herself comes to epitomize Stephen’s “cracked lookingglass.” Ireland functions similarly for Walcott. He aligns Joyce with Homer, and so Ireland, like Gibraltar, can be understood as a connecting mythological axis for Omeros. It is also another colonized space, inhabited by the British military, that allows Walcott to situate his epic in a modern context of British imperial expansionism. Taken together, the two islands come together as fragmented pieces of Walcott’s restored vase of Antillean art. The fact that Walcott likens his homeland to Gibraltar before communing with Joyce in Ireland demonstrates that he is engaging with Ulysses through a highly specific colonized lens: Joyce links Ireland with Gibraltar to situate his novel in a simultaneously mythological and modern colonized global context; Walcott then does the same thing with St. Lucia and Ireland. What results in Omeros is a cyclical fruition of myth and colonization from Ireland to Gibraltar to St. Lucia and back again.



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