Sunday, April 27, 2008

Important Concepts from the text

For those who are taking the exam (and even those writing the papers) I figured this is as good of a forum as any to collectively gather thoughts on the main themes of the novel.

Immediately coming to mind are themes such as Agenbite of Inwit, Parallax, and metempsychosis. From what I have gathered from the text these are some of my interpretations, but this is a great way to start adding and commenting on ideas so we all have a good understanding of what should have been focused on from the epic.

Agenbite of Inwit discusses the idea of regret within one's conscious. This can be associated with all three main characters: Stephen, Bloom, and Molly. In Stephen's case his regret as not being as successful as a poet as he would have liked to be at this point in his lifetime, along with his thoughts on how to handle his younger sisters as they live in poverty and whether he should attempt to work to help them or to avoid being "drug down with them". Also included is Stephen's possible regret towards how he handled the death of his mother.

Parallax- Dealing with the view of different matters from more than one perspective. Not only does this help us to more deeply learn about the characters, but also to look into some truth into each matter. A couple examples that come to mind are everyone's thoughts towards Molly's possible affair and then her own reflection at the very end of the novel and the different perspectives on Stephen and Bloom. Not only Bloom's attempt at a more intimate relationship with Stephen that he does not reciprocate as Bloom may have wanted, and each minor character's view on each of them.

Idea of Paternity- Obviously this mostly focuses around Bloom and Stephen, Stephen and his lack of a relationship with Simon, then Bloom after the death of his son Rudy and his need for another "son".

Any and all other ideas are a great way to start developing thoughts as the semester comes to a close.


Ruthie Sacks said...

Another important theme...

Amor Matris means mother love. I think this term first appears in "Nestor," when Stephen is teaching at the boys' school. He is helping a student named Sargent, who is ugly, chubby, and clumsy, with math. Stephen starts thinking about the boy's mother and how only a mother could love him. He decides that the boy does not appear to have a lot going for him; nevertheless, there is a woman out there who loves this child. This idea coincides with Stephen's vision of humanity which involves the idea that everyone is loved by someone. Also the theme of mother love is important because it is something Stephen is internally struggling with due to the fact he did not abide by his mother's final wishes (to pray for her at her bedside) and thus he feels guilty. Because he did not obey her last wishes, he feels as if her love for him has been taken back and he no longer has the mother love that every individual including Sargent possesses. Stephen has remained in mourning more so because of the personal guilt that he carries and the fact that he feels he has somehow lost his mother love (and this is his way of consoling himself).

Trey Mullins said...

Another idea that I think is pretty common is nationalism. Nationalism reflects feelings that require a larger perspective, and I feel it is something that parallax lends itself well to viewing. In 'cyclops' we see how Bloom's perspective on nationalism is much different than the narrator or the citizen. Though he pronounces his state to be Ireland, it becomes evident that everyone else seems to believe that being Irish is incompatible with being Jewish. This conflict drives the mockery of Bloom in several situations, and can also be used to expound upon the other things that Bloom is mocked for.

Aileen said...

The past goes on existing in the present. The substance of Ulysses depends on the references to all these past works, songs, rhymes, people, etc.
Stephen is haunted by his mother’s memory, Bloom by his father’s memory (the suicide note he keeps in his drawer is physical proof of the past). Stephen says history is a nightmare from which he is trying to awake, which means that he is living it right now; he is experiencing history in the present. The power of the past is evident, and he says in the Nestor episode, “What if that nightmare [history] gave you a back kick?” We see it in his hallucinations about his mom, his obsession with proving that Shakespeare’s ghost is Hamlet’s grandfather, etc.