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as it appears in Ulysses. How does it figure into
In one sense, Dublin appears as a metropolis
in Ulysses. It has the trappings of a large city—a
public transportation system, a marketplace district, a harbor,
several newspapers, a library, a museum, a court system, a university
and so on. These elements all appear in Ulysses, and
in episodes such as Episode Seven they serve to emphasize the institutional
systems that play into Dubliners’ daily lives, instead of local
or rural concerns. Joyce also emphasizes the feel of the urban space
by carefully incorporating the geography of the city. The progress
of the characters is relentlessly tracked by street and building
names. This technique reaches its climax in Episode Ten, in which
the progression of many characters in disparate parts of the city
is briefly tracked. Episode Ten creates a sense of the large spatial area
of Dublin and the bustle of modern life.
In another, sense, however, Dublin appears to be a small
town, especially socially. As Bloom moves around the city all day,
he constantly runs into friends and acquaintances, and his acquaintances all
seem to know, or know of, each other. News and gossip travel quickly,
by word of mouth rather than mechanical means. Politics and press
seem to intersect with the personal sphere, for example, when Stephen
uses his connections to get Mr. Deasy’s letter printed in the evening
newspaper. Dublin appears to be not a modern, urban space of anonymity
and isolation but a community run by personal interaction and influence.
the narrative styles of the first six episodes of Ulysses differ
from the rest of the novel. How does this effect how one interprets
The first six episodes of Ulysses feature
a third-person narrator, with dialogue and interior monologue interspersed.
The narrative is realistic and straightforward, but is sometimes
hard to distinguish from the interior monologues. The interior monologues
attempt to realistically render bits of the stream-of-consciousness
of the two main characters, Stephen and Bloom. The focus seems to
be on developing and depicting the characteristics of each of these
individuals through the ways in which their thoughts work. Thus,
several episodes, such as Three and Five, consist mainly of Stephen’s
or Bloom’s thoughts with very little dialogue or narrative. As the
novel progresses, however, the narrative becomes increasingly ambiguous.
Some of the later episodes feature first-person narrators with distinctive
styles (as in Episode Twelve) or a self-conscious third-person narrative
that gestures to the text as a text by referencing phrases
from earlier episodes (as in Episode Eleven). Narrative devices,
such as the genealogy of English literary style in Episode Fourteen,
or the question-and-answer technique of Episode Seventeen can somewhat
obscure what is “actually” happening with the plot. Consequently,
our attention shifts from the characters and their individual trials
and motivations to an interpretation of narrative style. We are
forced to realize the extent to which style effects what can
a novel in which few women appear and even fewer speak. Consequently,
much of the thinking about women comes from male viewpoints in the
novel. How are Stephen’s and Bloom’s treatment of women different?
How are they similar?
Stephen’s and Bloom’s different treatments
and understandings of women seem to follow the basic differences
in their ages and temperaments. Youthful Stephen does not seem to
have much experience with women. We see Stephen interact only with
the prostitutes at Bella Cohen’s brothel, and we hear of his past
relations with the prostitute Georgina Johnson and, possibly, the
“virgin” at Hodges Figgis’s bookstore whom he remembers in Episode
Three. The mature Bloom, on the other hand, is at ease with women
and converses with several in a friendly way in Ulysses. Bloom
thinks of women in a physical way—he often perceives Molly in terms
of how she feels or smells. Bloom is attentive to women’s appearances,
and his sightings of women often spark sexual fantasies or physical
reactions. Stephen, on the other hand, thinks of women more often
in the course of his aesthetic or religious arguments than in sexual
fantasies. The women of his arguments fit easily into “types” (Eve
and Ann Hathaway as betrayers, for example) and are defined by those roles,
rather than by their appearances.
The two men are similar in their sense of women being
mysterious and powerful. Bloom’s idea of putting two women writing
on a cart as an advertisement and Stephen’s story about the woman
at the Queen’s hotel mysteriously writing words on paper (both in
Episode Seventeen) both depend on an innate curiosity about what
women hide. Stephen’s crediting of Ann Hathaway’s role in Shakespeare’s artistic
life and Bloom’s understanding of the sacred nature of childbirth
suggest that both men regard women as powerful, if in limited ways.
Their parallel appreciations of women as mysterious and powerful
are, in fact, not that surprising given that both men are “haunted”
by women—Stephen by the ghost of his mother and Bloom by the idea
of Molly’s infidelity. Finally, both men seem to consider women
as subjects of art. In Episode Three, Stephen’s memory of the Hodges
Figgis “virgin” and his view of a female cocklepicker on the beach
combine to form the female subject of the poem he composes. Similarly,
Bloom, at the end of Episode Four, considers writing a short story
for Titbits based on Molly’s sayings.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Ulysses!