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MonkeyNotes-Ulysses by James Joyce
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The scene now shifts as it does in the Odyssey, to the lost Ulysses himself. Joyce’s Ulysses is Bloom, a Dublin Jew. He is a Ulysses with no Telemachus and cut off from his Penelope. We now follow Bloom’s adventures on the day of June 16, 1904. Lotus-eaters allure him; he is confronted by Laestrygonians. He assists at the burial of an Elpenor and descends with him in imagination to the under-world; he suffers from the varying favor of an Aeolus. He escapes by ruse from the ferocity of a Cyclops and he disengages himself through prudence from the maiden charms of a Nausicaa. And he emerges finally a man again from the brothel of a Circe who had transformed him into a swine.

In the Odyssey, the final shipwreck of Ulysses and his subsequent misfortunes are the result of the impiety of his companions, who in defiance of all his warnings have killed and eaten the Oxen of the Sun. So Bloom is pained by the impiety of the medical students as they joke obscenely about childbirth and maternity. Yet Bloom has himself in his own way offended against the principle of fertility by his recent prolonged neglect of Molly. She is the Calypso who has detained him since his shipwreck. It is this sin against fertility which (at a time when Mrs. Bloom is entertaining Boylan) lands Bloom on the Phaeacian strand indulging in further erotic daydreams in connection with little Gerty MacDowell, the Nausicaa of the Dublin beach.

There is a drunken altercation between Dedalus and Buck Mulligan at the tram station, in which Antinous and Telemachus apparently dispute over the key to the tower and Telemachus goes away homeless. Stephen gets embroiled with two English Tommies and knocked down. Bloom has followed and as he bends over Stephen, beholds an apparition of his own dead son,


Language

The language employed by Joyce is not his language but the language of his characters. Joyce attributes an appropriate language to each character. The difference in language between characters is not one of tone, despite Bloom’s jokiness. Bloom, like Stephen, is alive to the pleasures of language, which often takes the form of a joke.

For Joyce the selection of words is precious. The language of "Ithaca", for instance, is unnaturally and clinically lucid and objective. By contrast "Eumaeus" offers a fog of words. Much of the narrative is "Nausicaa" is conducted in the language of a cheap novelette. The dominant language in "Oxen of the Sun" is dictated by Parody.

In this way Joyce employs language appropriately to suit the character of the situation or the experience presented.

The "Stream of consciousness" technique in "Ulysses"

"Stream of Consciousness" was a phrase used by William James in his Principles of Psychology to describe the unbroken flow of perceptions and feelings in the waking mind. It has since then been adopted to describe a narrative method in modern fiction. James Joyce developed a variety of devices for stream-of- consciousness narrative in Ulysses. In "Proteus" Joyce deals with the thoughts passing through Stephen’s mind, as he perceives the world around him and broods over his own nature. The chapter is predominantly concerned with the human response to the physical world around. The protean nature of experience comes to Stephen’s consciousness as a stream in which sights, sounds, smells, touch and taste get neatly defined. Various nostalgic reflections and intimate descriptions of bodily functions begin to flow from Stephen’s mind. In another chapter a casual reference to oranges sends Bloom’s mind on an imaginary voyage through oriental orange-groves and remind him in the next moment of Molly’s Mediterranean background and events connected with his courtship and early married life. In a passage of interior monologue from the "Lestrygonian" episode Leopold Bloom saunters through Dublin, observing and musing: "Pineapple rock, lemon platt, butter scotch. A sugar- sticky girl shoveling scoops of cream for a Christian brother. Some school great. Bad for their tummies." In this way the stream-of-consciousness mode of narrative is sustained.

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