JAMES JOYCE’S “ULYSSES” By Venturini Chiara
WHY IS JOYCE’S NOVEL NAMED “ULYSSES”? • As suggested by the title, “Ulysses” by Joyce is related to Homer’s epic, which is about Odysseus and his travels after the Troian war. • Joyce used the “Odyssey” as a structural framework for his book using Homer’s heroic models to build Bloom (corresponding to Ulysses), Stephen (corresponding to Telemachus) and Molly (corresponding to Penelope).
“ULYSSES” STRUCTURE • Joyce’s “Ulysses” is divided into 3 parts and 18 episodes. The chapters are called: • Telemachiad (chapter 1-3); • Odyssey (chapter 4-15) • Nostos (chapter 16-18). • This subdivision is connected to the three main characters and at the same time it imitates the three parts of “Odyssey”. However, each chapter is addictionaly organized around different hour, a color, an organ of the body, a sense, a symbol and a narrative technique suitable for the subject-matter.
THE THREE MAIN CHARACTERS • LEOPOLD: is a middle-aged advertising canvasser a non-practioing jew. In Joyce’s vision he represents the common man. He is pure intellect and he embodies very young man who is looking for maturity. • MOLLY: is a woman who is sure of herself, she is a sensual woman, she likes being looked ar and she makes herself up in order to being watched by man.The most striking difference between Homer’s Penelope and Molly Bloom is that while the first is faithful to her husband, the second is not. Moreover Penelope represents the image of a woman who is dependant on her husband, while Molly is more sure of herself and independent, especially on the sexual point of view. Molly represents the flash because she totally identifies herself with her sensual nature. • STEPHEN: is the protagonist of Joyce’s “A portrait of an artist as a young man”. It is possible to say that the common man rescues the alienated artist even if they can’t achieve personal communication. It is possible to say that he represents everybody, mankind.
THE FIGURE OF THE HERO In Joyce’s novel, our epic hero is an average Jewish and salesman who has been feeling a bit dumpy. On top of that, his wife is cheating on him, he has a head full of senxual neuroses, he has bad gas. Leopold Bloom is one average guy. In the course of the day, Bloom goes to a funeral, tries to secure an ad, goes to maternity hospital where a woman is giving birth, follows Stephen Dedalus and then saves him from getting arrested.
HOW DOES JOYCE MANAGE TO RE-ELABORATE THE TRADITIONAL MYTH? Joyce manages to re-elaborate the traditional myth by opening his thoughts, by moving from the realm of action to the realm of the mind. Indeed the intelligent reader can notice a differnce between Joyce and Homer: “Ulysses” prose is based on the “Mythical method” and not on the “Narrative method”. It is based on two different experiences which merge the one into the other. On one side there were the progresses made by phychology, ethnology and anthropology which determined a new conception of time and a new insight into the human mind (flux of thoughts); on the other sife there were the parallels created by the author with the “Odyssey”. Homer’s myth was used to make the actions and the people of a day in Dublin larger than they were, universal.
THE AIMS • The more that Joyce read, the more he began to notice a disparity between literature and life. Bookes seemed to operate by their own rules, which very different from the rules of the world. A character like Ulysses is held up as a hero, someone to emulate. • He wanted to pull it down to earth, to reveal the way that ordinary people make heroic quests in their daily lives. • No metter how average we think we are, we are living lives worthy of literaty epics. Bloom is not just an imitation of Ulysses. He is Ulysses. Both Ulysses and Bloom came from the creative minds of authors with similar purposes: Model for the community CREATION OF HEROIC EXAMPLES A model valid for the hero himself