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MonkeyNotes-Ulysses by James Joyce
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The discussion at Kiernan’s might be entitled "Bloom’s Political Education." Here he is brought face to face with the appalling revelation that his doctrines of good will are inadequate as solutions for the chaos of modern industrialism and imperialism. Confronted with the entirely disrespectful Citizen and the cynical debt-collector, he is sensitive enough to feel the naivete of his outlook. His embarrassment leads him to a ridiculous definition of a nation---"the same people living in the same place...or also living in different places."

This chapter is concerned predominantly with literary styles, particularly the heroic style. The grandiose, noble passages present how the cronies in the bar perceive reality. The moral simplifications of epic narrative and cataloguing the world around them are devices to show how their minds work. The legal jargon and parodies of newspaper style and scriptural style are equally important. The chapter presents a study of the relationship between the style of men’s thoughts and the style of their reading matter. These men are indoctrinated by the vulgarity of newspapers.

The Citizen is conceived as one belonging to the race of great Irish heroes. He sees himself therefore as the defender of Old Ireland. Drunk with liquor, nationalism and dreams of the heroic past, he becomes indeed a Dublin Cyclops. Joyce is, of course, still interested in character and environment. But his major interest is in the habits of mind and those literary styles that create and reflect them.


Some passages in this chapter parody the heroic style. The epic passages in this chapter are powerful and moving even though we realize their mock-heroic nature. The description of the Citizen, the descriptions of the sporting battles and the account of the final assault on Bloom and Cunningham are mock-heroic. The comic and long drawn out lists of the "many Irish heroes and heroines of antiquity" have a magnificent preposterousness. Joyce uses exaggeration to the point where size itself becomes impressive. The Cyclops, stupid, lazy and blind, is a menace to Ulysses simply because he is so big. The style of this chapter, similarly suffering from gigantism, is in itself remarkable. The effect is like "mock-heroic", which was one of the main vehicles of satire in the eighteenth century. Ulysses in general and ‘Cyclops’ in particular can be compared to Pope’s Dunciad, where trivial events in the literary life of Grub Street are given heroic status.

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