An intelligent, sensitive, anxious, and ill-tempered boy growing up in an increasingly impoverished Catholic household in Dublin. In his long student years, Stephen passes through many discrete stages. He matures from a shy, frail child… (read full character analysis)
Stephen’s father, a joker and merrymaker from Cork who supports the Irish nationalist Parnell and distrusts the church. He has held a string of different jobs in his lifetime; as time goes on, he finds it more and more difficult to support his large family.
Stephen’s mother, a modest and retiring woman who struggles to keep the family afloat when they begin to struggle financially. She is a devout Catholic. She disapproves of Stephen’s studies at the university, and does her best to convince Stephen to be a good Catholic despite his artistic ambitions.
The Dedalus Children
Stephen’s nine younger siblings, who appear most often sitting around the kitchen table chatting and drinking tea. It is implied that most of them do not receive the same advantages as Stephen.
Dante (Mrs. Riordan)
Stephen’s governess, and a friend of the family. Dante is a devout Catholic who fights bitterly with Simon and Mr. Casey about Parnell and the role of the Catholic church, favoring the Church.
Mr. John Casey
A friend of Simon’s who shares Simon’s pro-Parnell nationalist politics.
Stephen’s great uncle. Stephen spends a large part of his summer at Blackrock listening to Uncle Charles’ stories.
A boy at Clongowes who pushes Stephen into a ditch.
Simon Moonan and Tusker Boyle
Two boys in Stephen’s year at Clongowes who get caught engaging in some sexual activity with two older boys.
A boy at Clongowes who asks Stephen riddles in the infirmary.
A kind and gentle priest who tends to Stephen in the infirmary.
An ill-tempered Latin teacher at Clongowes. He gives guest lectures at Belvedere during the religious retreat, which inspire in Stephen terrible guilt and fear.
A head teacher at Clongowes who gives Stephen an unjust beating for laziness.
The kindly rector of Clongowes who takes Stephen’s side in his dispute with Father Dolan.
A retired athletic trainer and a friend of Simon’s, who coaches Stephen in running during his summer in Blackrock.
Stephen’s friend during his summer in Blackrock.
Stephen’s closest friend at Belvedere, a rowdy, clever bully.
Stephen’s closest friend at university, an intelligent medical student who is in equal part sincere and scornful. Stephen thinks of Cranly as a sort of secular confessor.
One of Stephen’s close friends at university. Davin comes from the Irish countryside; he is single-mindedly devoted to his country. In Stephen’s life, he is the voice of Irish patriotism.
An intellectually ambitious but awkward student at the university. Other students constantly mock him for his half-baked ideas.
A politically engaged student who tries to convince Stephen to sign a petition for world peace.
A philandering friend of Stephen’s with a particularly crude sense of humor. Stephen lectures him on aesthetic philosophy.