Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Dear Henry...

Episode 5 follows Leopold Bloom around Dublin during his trips to the post office and other assorted errands of the day. Joyce presents Bloom not as a naive husband who stands to be blindly cuckolded by his sensual wife Molly but rather as a dissatisfied married man who entertains his own thoughts of exploring relationships with other women. Bloom’s “affair” with Martha suggests that perhaps the Blooms’ marriage is dissolving as a result of both partners’ boredom and unrest. Bloom attempts to escape from his life with Molly through the creation of a new and more exciting identity, Henry Flower. He participates in erotic communications with a woman he has never met in order to leave the stagnation of his marriage and participate in the possibility of another life that is not his own. He suspects Molly of infidelity due to the “bold” letter from Boylan earlier that morning and yet he engages in similarly upsetting behavior in his letters to Martha.

Although Bloom seeks to escape his marriage with Molly and his life as a married man with little excitement, sexual or otherwise, in his engagement with Martha, he is constantly reminded of his demanding wife throughout the episode. In the end of Martha’s return letter, she asks him, “P.S Do tell me what kind of perfume does your wife use. I want to know” (78). Martha knows about Molly’s existence and brings her up in her letter. Rather than escaping into his sexual banter with a stranger, the woman reminds him of his relationship with Molly and reorients him as an unsated and disgruntled husband.

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