Monday, February 25, 2008

Seeing the World Properly

In the ugly countenance of Cyril Sargent, with “his tangled hair and scraggy neck… his misty glasses weak eyes look[ing] up pleading,” Stephen sees himself (27). He identifies with the boy, in part because the boy reminds him of “amor matris” and his own estranged relationship with his mother, but also because of their shared worldview. Cyril “peered askance (with mistrust) through his slanted glasses” out at the “hollow knock of a ball and calls from the field” (28). Both characters see the world though a quizzical lens.

This point is further accentuated by the subsequent appraisal of “Averroes and Moses Maimonides, dark men in mien and movement, flashing in their mocking mirrors the obscure soul of the world, a darkness shining in brightness which brightness could not comprehend” (28). Averroes, a Muslim, and Maimonides, a Jew, both reject the “light” of Christ to which Deasy and the rest of society so strongly adhere. They see the world through the reflection of a mirror, much like the “cracked lookingglass of a servant…a symbol of Irish art” through which Stephen sees himself and understands his history (16). Moreover, these non-Christian religious leaders are portrayed as “darkness shining in brightness”. Joyce has already established a kind of reversal of the traditional dark vs. light imagery with Stephen dressed in all black and Buck, the “usurper”, dressed in bright colors. Here, Joyce draws a parallel between Stephen and two of the most prominent thinkers of their respective religions, and thus identifies Stephen not as an atheist or an apathetic loner, but rather as a founder of a whole new belief system.

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