Friday, April 4, 2008

Life Intertwined in Death

Bloom is cynical about death and treats it with unusual casualness, suggesting at one point that it would be more practical to bury corpses standing up. He doesn't believe in the idea of resurrection, and even makes a joke about the Lazarus story. Perhaps his cynicism comes from his experience with death.

He thinks of romance occurring in cemeteries. This idea of an act of procreation in a place that serves as the resting house of death shows Bloom's musings on the intertwining nature of life and death. "In the midst of death we are in life. Both ends meet." That's the theory, anyway. Maybe what Bloom really feels is that he's had too much of the latter, with his father committing suicide and his son, who is supposed to be the continuation of his life, prematurely passing on. In his case, it's unbalanced.

The unbalance shows in episode 6's heavily death-themed setting. Aside from the obvious fact that he's on his way to a funeral, the presence of death is made clear in subtler ways. A man who stands on a barge, floating slowly on the waterway, bears some resemblance to Charon, the ferryman of Hades. We even have a Cerberus-like figure; "bully about the muzzle he looks," thinks Bloom of Father Coffey, noting also that Coffey sounds like coffin. We're missing a Hades figure, though. Maybe it's the man in the mackintosh, number 13, "death's number."

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