Episode 7: Aeolus, ~pp 115-148

Important Themes of Episode 7

  • Individualism and Speech: Buried in an appendix by Gifford and Seidman is a catalog of the rhetorical “art” of the characters in “Aeolus.” Gilbert discusses this in greater detail. I leave it for you to harvest the specific notations, but there remains a broader theme that the notes prove. Diversity reigns even in parochial Dublin, even in a newsroom where homogeneity is expected. Humanism touts the worth of the individual whether pompous, punning, potted, principled, Papal, or impecunious, but it’s stature, confidence, and personality that carries the argument. Gilbert’s matrix shows the technic of “Aeolus” as Enthymemic. This is a syllogism lacking the support of one premise or failing to state the conclusion. Logic is less important than the relentlessness of the argument. “Bushe?” The editor said. “Well, yes. Bushe, yes. He has a strain of it in his blood. Kendal Burke or I mean Seymour Burke.” “He would have been on the bench long ago,” the professor said, “only for… But no matter.” A scrambled syllogism, the reason for his blocked ascension to the bench is unstated.
  • “We are the boys…heart and hand” and gender-swapping: The plot of the song has a lyric sung by a maid dressed as a boy to go to war. This reprises a theme that occurs throughout the novel. Consider the mentions of cast and plot of Shakespearean plays, Achilles dodging the draft cross-dressed, and tales of escapes in female disguises. The animus/anima interplay of the modern spirit will take center stage in the “Circe” episode. An expansive Humanism, hopeful and generous was beginning to emerge in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. All this optimism was to unravel with the horrors of The Great War.

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