Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Mockery of Bloom

In Episode 12: Cyclops, Joyce presents the episode as a series of parodies and satires. We have been watching Bloom struggling in the past episodes with his ability to communicate and present himself effectively to others around him. Bloom continually fails to assert himself or his values, even when under direct assault from his acquaintances. In Episode 6, the men in the carriage discuss suicide as one of the greatest of all sins and how this decision was inexcusably immoral. Rather than standing up for the memory of his father, Bloom allows the men to disparage his father’s final decision and suggest that eternal peace still eludes him. In the beginning of Episode 12, we witness Bloom attempting to make himself heard and to communicate effectively with the others. He states, “You don’t grasp my point…what I mean is…” (306). Bloom unsuccessfully tries to communicate with the men in the pub in an attempt to forge friendships and make a lasting and meaningful connection with another person that seems to have eluded him his entire life. We do, however, finally see Bloom stand up for his values and his identity as an Irish Jew in the episode. Yet, because this section remains nothing more than a series of mockery and parody, Joyce reduces Bloom’s assertions to another example of derision and ridicule in the text. After Bloom defends himself and his position as a persecuted individual, the men in the pub dismiss his statements as ineffectual and vaguely pathetic. Wyse responds, “Right…Stand up to it then with force like men” (333). Rather than respecting Bloom’s present self-assertion, Wyse ridicules Bloom and the Jewish people for not addressing the problem as a group head on. Even though Bloom finally stands up for himself, it appears to be too little, too late in the eyes of the surrounding men. His one rebuttal will not undo their perception of Bloom as a weak man “limp as a wet rag” (333). By placing Bloom’s long-awaited self-assertion in the middle of this particular episode, Joyce positions Bloom in a position to be further mocked and scorned by the men around him as well as the reader.

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