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Mrs. Bloom's Soliloquy

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Twentieth-Century Fiction
Prof. Avishek Parui
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences
Indian Institute of Technology, Madras
Lecture – 47
Ulysses – Part 8
(Refer Slide Time: 00:12)

So, hello and welcome to this NPTEL course entitled Twentieth Century Fiction, we are reading James Joyce’s novel Ulysses. So, we will begin to wind up the novel now and I hopefully finish this text in another couple of lectures from now. So, in this particular section because you are looking at certain selected sections in the novel because the huge novel it is virtually impossible to do it fully, but for the purpose of this course we are looking at certain selected sections.
So, in today’s lecture I will cover this conversation we see between Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus and we look at how these two men represent two different orders of masculinity, but are also connected - there is some kind of intellectual kinship or existential kinship that is there between these two men. And, we talk about we see how Joyce portrays them as an entanglement as far the difference, right. And that is something which we will see in some detail today and this should be on your screen. This is page 1093 in the version that we are following.
(Refer Slide Time: 01:03)

So, of what did the duumvirate deliberate during their itinerary? Music, literature, Ireland, Dublin, Paris, friendship, woman, prostitution, diet, the influence of gaslight or the light of arc and glow lamps on the growth of adjoining paraheliotropic trees, exposed cooperation emergency dustbuckets, the Roman catholic church, ecclesiastical celibacy, the Irish nation, jesuit education, careers, the study of medicine, the past day, the maleficent influence of the presabbath, Stephen’s collapse.
So, we have a series of very random topics which are deliberated by these two men. And, we see how there seems to be this omniscient narrator who is telling us the difference in opinion of these two men – how these two men think about different things what are the commonalities in the taste, what are the dissimilarities in their tastes and so on right. And, so, we find the very good example of two different kinds of masculinity emerging from this section and how despite the differences there seems to be some kind of a kinship between Stephen and Leopold Bloom ok.
(Refer Slide Time: 02:09)

Did Bloom discover common factors of similarity between their respective like and unlike reactions to experience? Both were sensitive to artistic impressions, musical in preference to plastic or pictorial. Both preferred a continental to an insular manner of life, a cisatlantic to a transatlantic place of residence. Both indurated by early domestic training and inheritance inherited tenacity of heterodox resistance professed their disbelief in many orthodox religious, national, social and ethical doctrines. Both admitted the alternately stimulating and obtunding influence of heterosexual magnetism. Right.
So, again we find how both these figures are sort of marginalized and in this very conservative culture of Dublin and how both of them seem to be again, sort of resisting certain very orthodox beliefs and national, religious, social and ethical doctrines, in terms of their experience, in terms of their inclinations, in terms of their ideas both of them are quite subversive in quality and that is something which connects both these men, Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus.
(Refer Slide Time: 03:38)

Were their views on some points divergent? Stephen dissented openly from Bloom’s views on the importance of dietary and civic self help while Bloom dissented tacitly from Stephen’s views on the eternal of affirmation of the spirit of man in literature. Bloom assented covertly to Stephen’s rectification of the anachronism involved in assigning the date of the conversion of the Irish nation to christianity from druidism by Patrick son of Calpornus, son of Potitus, son of Odyssus, sent by pope Celestine I in the year 432 in the reign of Leary to the year 260 or thereabouts in the reign of the Cormac MacArt, suffocated by imperfect deglutition of aliment element at Sletty and interred at Rossnaree.
(Refer Slide Time: 04:01)

So, again we find how historical anachronism plays a very important role in in Ulysses. So, Stephen and Leopold Bloom they seem to agree on the right date of conversion of the Irish nation to christianity and that is something which we find interesting because that obviously, undercuts some dogmatic and hegemonic historical knowledge. And, you find the history becomes a very important theme in Ulysses so to say and you know at the very beginning we find Stephen very very poignantly saying history is a nightmare from which he is trying to awake which is to say history becomes the normative knowledge which is clampdown on people which is which suffocates people which sort of consumes people.
And, Stephen’s rectification of anachronism is important over here, Stephen’s rectification of historical inaccuracy is important over here. And, also important is how Bloom connects and agrees with that rectification and that is something which you see quite interesting in Ulysses how a personal take in historical knowledge becomes subversive in quality and historical knowledge can become you know if it is owned by the state entirely. It can become a sort of hegemonic in its own right ok.
So, the collapse which Bloom ascribed to gastric inanition and certain chemical compounds of varying degrees of adulteration and alcoholic strength, accelerated by mental exertion and the velocity of rapid circular motion in a relaxing atmosphere,
Stephen attributed to the reoperation of matutinal perceived by both from two different points of observation Sandycove and Dublin at first no bigger than a woman’s hand. So, again we find how divergent views are interestingly described over here.
Was there one point on which their views were equal and negative? The influence of gaslight on a or electric light on the growth of adjoining paraheliotropic trees. So, again look at the way in which the seemingly flippant and a seemingly important compounded together in very interesting combinations. So, the both of them are very very vocal and they agree on the negative influence of gas light or electric light and growth of heliotropic trees; you know trees which survive on sunlight and how gas light is bad for them and the both of them agree on that.
Had Bloom discussed similar subjects during nocturnal perambulations in the past? So, again look at the way in which there is often there is almost an interrogative quality about this entire episode. Question – answers which basically reflect the characters’ inclinations and the characters’ imaginations and how this question – answers they bring out the features on the characters which are important which are otherwise hidden and buried in subterranean layers.
So, we ask and we as readers also get to know these peoples past so, the question now is had Bloom discussed similar subjects during nocturnal perambulations in the past.
(Refer Slide Time: 06:52)

In 1884 with Owen Goldberg and Cecil Turnbull at night on public thoroughfares between Longwood avenue and Leonard’s corner and Leonard’s corner and Synge street and Synge street and Bloomfield avenue.
So, again look at the preciseness of the places in Ulysses. So, in that sense it is interesting the reason why I am choosing this today, this particular section is because it tells us very interestingly how Ulysses despite being a very modernist experimental novel is also very very grounded in realism. So, in a sense that you know all the addresses mentioned in Ulysses are valid addresses, they all exist.
And, you know we find that you know Bloom says nocturnal perambulations in the past all the spaces in which he had walked and a time which is taken which had taken him to go from point A to point B or exactly the same time which would take any person to go from those same points across the same points in Dublin, all right. So, these places do exist historically geographically, geopolitically and so, that adds to the dimension of realism in the novel which essentially highlights or accentuates the very imaginative transportations the novel makes in different kinds of streams of consciousness.
So, we have on one hand the very experimental streams of consciousness technique which are used by Joyce over and over again and on the other hand the same streams of consciousness technique is mapped onto some very very graphic and detailed realism in which the novel is embedded. Okay. Where else has discussed this.
In 1885 with Percy Apjohn in the in the evenings, reclined against the wall between Gibraltar villa and Bloomfield house in Crumlin, barony of Uppercross. So, Gibraltar becomes the very symbolic presence in Dublin. We find that it is something which keeps coming up over and over again. And, obviously, that has a very symbolic seafaring quality because you know obviously, this is a novel which is some kind of a retelling of the Homeric Odysseus and Gibraltar had played a very important part in any sea voyage narratives.
We find Gibraltar coming back again in Molly Bloom’s final stream of consciousness with which the novel ends. Obviously, Molly Bloom was essentially from Gibraltar and that is something which situates her very firmly in the seafaring narrative of Ulysses. (Refer Slide Time: 09:04)

In 1886 occasionally with casual acquaintances and prospective purchasers on doorsteps, in front parlours, in third class railway carriages of suburban lines. In 1888 frequently with major Brain Tweedy and his daughter Miss Marion Tweedy, together and separately on the lounge in Matthew Dillon’s house in Roundtown. Once in 1892 and once in 1893 with Julius Juda Mastiansky, on both occasions in the parlour of his (Bloom’s) house in Lombard street, west.
So, again look at the preciseness of the addresses, preciseness of the people’s names etcetera which is part of realism in Ulysses which is something which extends to accentuate the stream of consciousness technique in Ulysses.
What reflection concerning the irregular sequence of dates 1885 1884, 1885, 1886, 1888, 1892, 1893, 1904 did Bloom make before their arrival at their destination? He reflected that a progressive extension of the field of individual development and experience was regressively accompanied by a restriction of the conversed domain of inter individual relations.
So, again the whole idea of progression and the whole idea of restriction are simultaneous events in this particular novel. So, again this is part of the liminality in the entire novel experience how consciousness is always a liminal experience, how it is an act of progression as well as being an act of restriction an act of regression right. So, that is the equation that he is having at the moment. And, also look at the way in which thinking about numbers accentuate streams of consciousness in this particular novel.
So, numbers play on imagination, numbers extend imagination, and each number relates to certain experience. So, in other words what we are seeing over here is the experientiality attached with numbers. So, how numbers over here do not stay as hard digits, but they actually become signifiers and markers of experience which open up to more phenomenal avenues of experience in this particular novel ok.
So, from inexistence to existence he came to many and was as many as one received: existence with existence he was with as and any with any: from existence to nonexistence gone he would be by all as none perceived. So, again look at the way in which absence and presence play with each other in Ulysses that is a very important point which I want to spend some time in. So, absence and presence are not really ontological opposites in Ulysses, but they actually supplement each other. So, presence in is informed by absence and absence is informed by presence because both absence and presence they are seen as movements in Ulysses.
So, absence is the movement away from presence while also being movement towards presence, but presence likewise is a movement away from absence as well as a movement towards absence. In other words, this is obviously highlighting the liminality of human life, the liminality of human consciousness which is always a cyclical process which is always a shuttling process between points. It is never really movement away or movement towards, but simultaneously movement away and a movement towards and that is something which is seen in this part of Ulysses.
(Refer Slide Time: 12:06)

And, now we find that the very curious combination in Ulysses where you know this combination between the profound and the flippant, but it is something which is almost metaphysical as you just saw absence, presence and being and non-being etcetera. And, then it is immediately juxtaposed as something very comical and banal like Bloom forgetting the key of his house and how he sort of almost becomes trespasser into his house.
I remember this play between the comic and the profound between the metaphysical and the very mundane has always been a part of Ulysses. If you remember the very opening in which we studied where Bloom comes back and tells talks to Molly Bloom about the whole idea of metempsychosis, the transmigration of soul which is essentially that of change from one state to another state, and how will having the conversation which is getting more metaphysical and profound.
He suddenly realizes he has put the kidney on fire in the kitchen and the kidney becomes something else. It is almost become inedible. It is not really a meat anymore; it has become a charred object. So, again that becomes example of metempsychosis in a very parodic kind of a way. So, this curious confluence or the curious combination as well, between the very metaphysical and very mundane has always been part of the narrative politics in Ulysses the narrative landscape in Ulysses.
So, what act did Bloom make on their arrival at their destination? At the house steps of the fourth of the equidifferent uneven numbers number 7 Eccles street. This is the address in Ulysses and if you go to Dublin ever this address actually exists this house actually exists, again it is very realistic.
(Refer Slide Time: 13:47)

So, when he arrived at 7 Eccles street know he inserted his hand mechanically into the back pocket of his trousers to obtain his latchkey. Was it there? It was in the corresponding pocket of the trousers which he had worn on the day but one proceeding right. So, it was the wrong trouser that he is wearing. So, he does not really have that latchkey over here to enter his own house.
Was he Why was he doubly irritated? Because he had forgotten and because he had remembered that he had reminded himself twice not to forget. So, again look at the way in which forgetting and remembering become simultaneous events in Ulysses just like absence and presence just like being and non-being. So, he is very angry with himself, he is very irritated with himself because he had forgotten, but also because he reminded himself not to forget and also because he remembered not to forget right twice not to forget.
So, again remembering becomes an act of forgetting over here and forgetting becomes an act of remembering over here. So, again the difference between these seemingly ontological opposites, they blur away absence and presence, being and non-being, memory and forgetting. So, all these become supplements of each other, they almost inform each other in very interesting ways.
So, what were then the alternatives before the, premeditatedly respectively and independently, keyless couple? So, again the keyless couple is interesting how Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus become something like a keyless couple and obviously, the keylessness is in a very symbolic situation. It is in a way saying the directionlessness of these two people - they are stuck in a limbo situation between different zones.
To enter or not to enter. To knock or not knock ok. So, again this very Hamletian quality is interesting because in some sense you know Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus may be seen as having a relationship between the older Hamlet, the ghost of Hamlet and the Prince of Denmark the other hamlet. So, again this is a father – son relationship very interesting kinship which you see in this particular novel. So, to enter or not to enter to knock or not to knock which is the obvious allusion to hamlet and this allusion obviously under, sort of underlines the sense of kinship these two men have, Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus.
(Refer Slide Time: 16:43)

Bloom’s decision. A stratagem. Resting his feet on the dwarf wall, he climbed over the area railings, compressed his hat on his head, grasped two points at the lower union of rails and stiles, lowered his body gradually by the length of five feet nine inches and a half to within two feet ten inches of the area pavements. So, again look at the precision of measurement over here - the inches, exact inches are given to us and again if you want to try it getting to the house as you know Eccles street this is exactly the measurement that would be correct that that we have to take.
And allowed his body to move freely in space by separating himself from the railings and crouching in preparation for the impact of the fall. Did he fall? By his body’s known weight of eleven stone and four pounds in avoirdupois measures. So, again even the measure the quality of the measure, the name of the measure is given to us which you know which counts measures Bloom’s body weight. So, again the exact body weight is given to us, exact movement is given to us, exact measure of movements is given to us in very graphic realistic terms.
(Refer Slide Time: 16:54)

As certified by the graduated machine for periodical selfweighing in the premises of Francis Froedman, pharmaceutical chemist of 19 Frederick street. So, that chemist shop in 19 Frederick street is again a real address in Dublin, is where Bloom had his body weight measured; north, and on the last feast of the Ascension, to wit, the twelfth day of May of the bissextile year one thousand nine hundred and four of the Christian era, jewish era five thousand six hundred and sixty four, mohammadan era one thousand three hundred and twenty two.
So, the Jewish era, the Mohammadan era, the Christian era they are all put together and again this is an interesting combination because what it does is that it gives us a relation, a sense of the different orders of temporality that are at play with each other. So, we have the Christian era followed by the Jewish era then followed by the Mohammadan era. So, the though Islamic time, Jewish time, Judeo-Christian time and we can see the Christian the Jewish and the Islamic time they are all part of the same Judeo-Christian network from which different temporal orders emerged.
So, golden number 5, epact 13, solar cycle 9, dominical letters C, B Roman indiction 2, Julian period 6617, MCMIV. So, again the whole idea the roman letters become important over here because what these numbers do over here interestingly is that it gives you a different sense of historical time because this roman time which predates Christian time and then Christian time comes in, but of course, Christian numbers are Arabic numbers. So, we have the different kinds of temporal narratives, different kinds of knowledge narratives which are mapped onto each other.
And like I said a little while before historical knowledge in Ulysses is a very complex combination of you know knowledge systems because in one hand historical knowledge can be clamped down, can be consumed by people without questioning and on the other hand what Ulysses shows us is how historical knowledge is very plastic in quality how it can be changed - there is the mutability is a very interesting component of historical knowledge so to say.
And, what this particular section does is that it goes back to the genesis of historical knowledge narratives. We go back in time and dig out the points in which these historical calendars began and that gives you a sense of the constructed quality of time, that gives you the sense of the constructed quality of temporality which we consumed sometimes unquestionably as religious subjects.
And of course, all this is being said to us in a very flippant way, where setting being Bloom falling down while getting to a, while trying to enter his own house. So, that the setting is actually very comic and within this superficially comic structure we have this very interesting depictions of historical time. So, while talking about time in a metaphysical, historical you know very very mystical terms you know we also talk about Francis Froedman, the pharmaceutical company the pharmaceutical you know shop in a certain section of Ulysses Frederick street 19 Frederick street in Dublin and of course, the whole setting over here as Bloom falling while entering his house. So, we have this again the very interesting combination of the comical and the banal and a mystical put together in very interesting ways.
(Refer Slide Time: 20:51)

Did he rise uninjured by concussion? Regaining new stable equilibrium he rose uninjured though concussed by the impact, raised the latch of the area door by the exertion of force at its freely moving flange and by leverage of the first kind applied at its fulcrum, gained retarded access to the kitchen through the subadjacent scullery, ignited a lucifer match by friction, set free inflammable coal gas by turning on the ventcock, lit a high flame which, by regulating, he reduced to quiescent candescence and lit finally a portable candle.
So, again the movements are described in very graphic details he gets the house and lights the candle by you know navigating through the different sections of the house. What discrete succession of images did Stephen meanwhile perceive? So, again look at the focalization at play over here. So, till this point in this particular episode, everything was focalized through Leopold Bloom and obviously, the shift happens to Stephen’s eyes. So, now everything is seen from Stephen Dedalus’s eyes. Obviously, he is you know he is not familiar to this house. So, everything will be a little more different for him and there is a sense of astonishment I am sure which will come up as Stephen sees what is happening before him the furniture, the architecture, the space which obviously, is new to him.
(Refer Slide Time: 21:30)

Reclined against the area railings he perceived through the transparent kitchen panes a man regulating a gas flame of 14 CP, a man lighting a candle of 1 CP, a man removing in turn each of his two boots, a man leaving the kitchen holding a candle.
So, obviously, Bloom is a man over here. So, again look at the way in which the moment of focus shifts to Stephen, the focalization has shifted you know and Bloom becomes a man moving with a candle. And, just before there just prior to this we saw Bloom was one who was essentially focalizing or foregrounding the entire event. So, saw everything through his eyes and now Bloom becomes character in Stephen’s narratives. He enters Stephen’s narratives with a candle right.
So, again look at the way in which what focalization does in Ulysses – it converts narratives into characters, characters into narratives and you know the whole combination takes place in very cognitively complex ways. So, Bloom who was the main protagonist so far in terms of entering the house now becomes a character in Stephen’s vision because entire focus now shifts from Stephen’s, Stephen becomes a focalized character and that his experience is foregrounded over here.
Did the man reappear elsewhere? Did Bloom reappear elsewhere. After a lapse of four minutes the glimmer of his candle was discernible to the semi-transparent semicircular gas fan light over the halldoor. The halldoor turned gradually on its hinges. In the open space of the doorway the man reappeared without his hat, with his candle.
Did Stephen obey his sign? Yes, entering softly, he helped to close and chain the door and followed softly along the hallway the man’s back and listed feet and lighted candle past a lighted crevice of doorway on the left and carefully down a turning staircase of more than 5 steps into the kitchen of Bloom’s house. What did Bloom do?
He extinguished the candle by a sharp expiration of breath upon its flame, drew two spoonseat deal chairs to the hearthstone, one for Stephen with its back to the area window, the other for himself when necessary, knelt on one knee, composed in the grate a pyre of crosslaid resintipped an tipped sticks and various coloured papers and irregular polygons of best Abram coal at twentyone shillings a ton from the yard of Messrs Flower and McDonald of 14.
So, again look at the way in which there is a digressive quality about this narrative. So, you know we are told one thing and then one thing leads to another thing and so on and so forth.
(Refer Slide Time: 23:48)

And, now we have been told where Stephen is seeing everything happen before him, we are also told where Bloom bought his candles from, where Bloom bought his colour papers from and coal from right and what was the price of the coal 21 shillings a ton from Messrs Flower and McDonald of 14 D’Olier street, kindled it at three projecting points of paper with one ignited lucifer match, thereby releasing the potential energy contained in the fuel by allowing its carbon and hydrogen elements to enter the free union with the oxygen of the air.
So, something as banal as lighting a candle, something as banal as lighting a match is described in very chemical terms right. Again, this is a very good example of defamiliarization. This has obviously been shown and from by we are told the story, we are given the story, this particular visual images by you know made to look at, through Stephen Dedalus’ imagination and that imagination defamiliarizes everything.
So, something as banal and mundane as lighting a candle is described in almost chemical terms, it is almost like a very complex laboratory experiment of lighting the candle, where carbon and hydrogen elements enter into free union with the oxygen of the air which is basically telling us he is lighting a candle.
(Refer Slide Time: 24:08)

Of what similar apparitions did Stephen think? Of others elsewhere in other times. Again, now Stephen begins to think of more macro times, this lighting of a candle suddenly triggers a series of you know realizations inside him, a series of thought processes inside him which move into more mystical landscapes.
(Refer Slide Time: 25:02)

Of others elsewhere in other times who, kneeling on one knee or two, had kindled fires for him, of Brother Michael in the infirmary of the collage of the Society of Jesus at Clongowes Wood, Sallins, in the county of Kildare: of his father, Simon Dedalus, in an unfurnished room of his first residence in Dublin, number thirteen Fitzgibbon street: of his godmother Miss Kate Morkan in the house of her dying sister Miss Julia Morkan at 15 Usher’s Island: of his aunt Sara, wife of Richie Richard Goulding, in the kitchen of their lodgings at 62 Clanbrassil street of his mother Mary, wife of Simon Dedalus, in the kitchen of number twelve North Richmond street on the morning of the feast of Saint Francis Xavier, 1898: of the dean of studies, Father Butt, in the physics’ theatre of university College 16 Stephen’s Green, north: of his sister Dilly Delia in his father’s house in Cabra.
So, you know it is almost like an apparition of images which keep coming up in his mind and again look at the way in which something as banal as striking a candle can trigger an epiphany in Ulysses. And epiphany - the quality of epiphany in Ulysses is sort of nothing sacred about it, there is nothing religious about it, it becomes a series of secular images a very domestic, secular, banal, mundane images from real life from family life from you know domestic settings.
So, all these apparitions of people with candles keep coming back in Stephen’s mind now you know, having seen Leopold Bloom light a candle in front of him. So, lighting of a candle over here obviously, becomes a symbolic act. So, again this is a very good example of the transition of matter into metaphor. So, the candle over here becomes metaphor for memory and that you know it ignites a series of memories in Stephen’s mind.
What did Stephen see on raising his gaze to the height of a yard from the fire towards the opposite wall?
(Refer Slide Time: 27:10)

Under a row of five coiled spring house bells a curvilinear rope, stretched between two holdfasts athwart across the recess beside the chimney pier, from which hung four small sized square handkerchiefs folded unattached consecutively in adjacent rectangles and one pair of ladies’ grey hose with Lisle suspender tops and feet in their habitual position clamped by three erect wooden pegs two at their outer extremities and the third at the point of junction.
(Refer Slide Time: 27:46)

What did Bloom see on the range? On the right smaller hob a blue enamelled saucepan: on the left larger hob a black iron kettle. Now, again look at the way in which different kinds of focalizations are put together now. So, Stephen seeing something, Bloom is seeing something else, obviously, both are not seeing the same thing and the difference being this is Bloom’s house. So, his gaze is more familiar, it is more familiar with whatever is around him whereas, Stephen’s gaze is one which is more imaginative in quality and that is making him images from early spaces, other spaces which he had been to.
So, again what we see over here is a juxtaposition of two different kinds of focalization.