Ready Player Earwicker

Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker

The book's male protagonist, if such he can be called. He is first seen sailing into Dublin Bay, to replace Finnegan-Everyman, the hod-carrier/warrior/progenitor that fell in the first chapter, who in turn is an alternate for Finn MacCool, St. Patrick, and all the founding heroes that have fallen to become the foundation of the city. As everyman, his fall into ignomious scandal is every man's fall, his family every family.

Earwicker is (at one level) a Scandinavian who has taken a native Irish wife, Anna Livia Plurabelle (whose initials ALP are also found in phrase after phrase). HCE personifies the city of Dublin (which was founded by Vikings), and ALP personifies the river Liffey, on whose banks the city was built; the couple stands for every city-river pair in the world. They are, like Adam and Eve, the primeval parents of all the Irish, and all of humanity. ALP and HCE have a daughter, Issy, and two sons, Shem and Shaun, eternal rivals for replacing their father and for Issy's affection (among other things).

Having countless embodiments, his initials HCE appear in phrases throughout FW. He is often affectionately referred to by readers as "Here Comes Everybody" (and Joyce himself makes several plays on this term at several points in the book) as this also creates the same inclusion as the removal of the apostrophe from "Finnegan's Wake", that we are all involved in the cycles implied in the book, just as we are all drawn into imbuing the book with meaning. HCE, as he takes many forms, is often overlooked on initial readings, but it is also noticeable that as the book proceeds and HCE's mind becomes more scrambled, his name also become scrambled, as acrostics such as "hec" or "ceh" pop up more as the book progresses, but fade closer to the end.