As others see us

“As he and others see me”: regarding himself in the mirror held up by Mulligan, Stephen recalls two well-known lines of the Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759-96). Burns wrote, "O wad some Power the giftie gie us / To see oursels as ithers see us!" The thoughts that follow in Telemachus ("Who chose this face for me? This dogsbody to rid of vermin") make clear that Stephen knows the whole poem and is thinking about its message: objective representation threatens subjective self-satisfaction, and the body humbles the mind. Bloom knows the poem too, and thinks about its crucial line in similar ways.

JH 2011

Cropped image of oil portrait of Robert Burns by Robert Naysmith, held in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Detail of mother picking head lice from a child in Jan Siberechts' 1662 painting Cour de ferme, held in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Brussels. Source: Wikimedia Commons. 

Hamlet forcing his mother to compare the pictures of her two husbands, in Kenneth Branagh's 1996 film. Source: