Tuesday, April 29, 2008


on the topic of our main characters' happiness, i would daresay that none of the three (stephen, bloom, molly) is genuinely happy...

stephen is still mournfully moping around on account of his mother's death. he allows himself to be controlled by others (e.g. giving both money and housekey to mulligan). he seems to be overruled by his students in the classroom. he sees his own childhood in the pathetic face of one of his students, cyril sargent. he doesn't really even believe himself (e.g. when asked about his own view of his hamlet theory). like bloom, he doesn't stand up for himself (e.g. when mulligan asks for the housekey or when he feels left out having not been invited to the poet gathering). he evidently turns to drink to alleviate his misery, but then this only digs him into deeper trouble (e.g. with bella cohen and with the privates). he doesn't put much stake in his job or responsibilities as we see him tell his friend in the street that mr. deasy's school should have an opening for a teacher soon. he is apathetic throughout much of his conversation with bloom, and although he seems to cheer up from time to time... he overall demeanor seems hopeless.

bloom, as we have discussed, is also a victim of usurpation. he allows himself to be cuckholded by his wife, and the whole town knows it. i feel as though bloom tries to put on a happy face and go on with his life by ignoring his hurt. he knows about his wife's affair, and i suppose he knows that molly knows that he knows about the affair, yet he doesn't confront her about it. instead, he continues to let it happen, all the while allowing it fester in his mind throughout the whole day. he simply can't take his mind off of it. everything reminds him of molly. he is also frequently reminded of his son's premature death, and this is obviously another source of depression for bloom. like i said, i feel like he outwardly maintains a facade of content, but i think his deeper psychological feelings escape in episode fifteen. i tend to see his hallucinations in episode fifteen as manifestations of his repressed feelings (e.g. the transformation of himself into a woman represents his relationship with molly, the elevation of himself to a position of power perhaps represents a desire to make something greater of his life, the apparition of his deceased son addresses his sadness at never having been able to father a boy and pass on his lineage, etc.). however, bloom puts great priority in his responsibilities (e.g. securing advertisements for the paper, helping the dignam family, visiting the hospital on account of mrs. purefoy's childbearing), and maybe this is his way of taking his mind off of his problems and pushing forward with day to day life. thus, we see him take on a final responsibility of the day to help stephen through the night.

molly does not seem genuinely happy either, though perhaps she does the best of job of masking her unhappiness (or maybe it only seems this way because we are limited to one episode's worth of her thoughts). molly seems to simply take life as it comes to her. her lack of guilt allows her to be selfish; thus, getting her way in most situations prevents her from dwelling too much on her troubles. as we see in episode eighteen, when she begins to think about something depressing (i.e. rudy), she quickly tells herself to not dwell on such gloomy thoughts. thus, molly is not necessarily happy, but because she is always in control, she can sort of feign a certain sort of happiness/content to herself that prevents her from ever being too depressed... if that makes sense...

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