Important Symbols & Phrases of Episode 7
- House of Key(e)s: This refers obviously to Bloom’s ad for the grocer and wine merchant of that name and his missing house key. It also refers to the crest of the Isle of Man. Surrounded in the Irish Sea by England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. Man held little interest for invaders. The tap water isn’t even potable. The Celtic natives were usually left in peace by potential invaders. The Isle of Man is a dominion of the UK but not part of it and enjoys Home Rule. Keys adorn the crest on the parliament building (also known says Tindall as the House of Keys). Keys on Man are the symbol of Home Rule. A key might also be symbolic of Home Rule at Bloom’s 7 Eccles Street. MacLir, the shape changing god of the sea from “Proteus,” originated from the mythology of the Isle of Man. The isle is separate from the society of English domination to a great extent and enjoys the isolation. Currently, Man is a tax haven for the wealthy and prospers from its independence. Crawford jingles his keys as O’Connell did in the graveyard. Crossed keys decorate the Vatican flag too. These are all symbols of power, according to Tindall.
- The Haggadah: Fathers share this “telling” with sons at the Passover Seder. Later in the novel, a symbolic Haggadah and Seder will be shared.
- Not Heart of the Metropolis but the Lungs: This according to William Tindall. The newsroom offers an inhalation and exhalation of characters entering and exiting. The presses underlay audible, rhythmic respiration and a fine collection of windbags, some present, others quoted in their absence.
- Cloacae: The obsession of empires (British and Roman, others too like Minoan and Aztec) with carrying off its waste and devastation is consistent with imperialism’s imperatives. Out of sight, out of mind.
- Blavatsky’s Planes of Consciousness: Helena Blavatsky, an internationally (in)famous spiritualist and charlatan, preached a metaphysical structure. The four lower stages were purely physical, but the three higher realms promised transformation was possible from human to universal to Divine. At one time, Bloom practiced the cabal of the Rosicrucian and would be susceptible to these teachings. Stephen might have been most interested in the universality of communing with his dead mother when he inquired about the planes of consciousness. Dr. Marc Connor of Washington and Lee University posits that Joyce’s intention in Ulysses is to show the juvenile Stephen’s transformation into the mature Bloom. This can be seen as the metamorphosis from Human to Universal development in Blavatsky’s schema.
- The Pisgah Sight of Palestine or Parable of the Plums: Two very different symbolisms are at play in this fable. Spinster servants of the empire, enfeebled but treating their wounds with holy water from miraculous Lourdes or with a workingman’s beer, climb the phallic obelisk dedicated to their Anglo Master. They become lightheaded for want of oxygen and a one-handed touch. They spit plum pits from the erected tower. The panorama offers steeple after dome after spire of the Churches of Dublin. They are surrounded and awed by the English and Italian masters that Stephen swears not to serve (Tindall.}. Like Moses, Stephen will never see the Promised Land accepting self-imposed exile. In fact, Joyce did return to Ireland for brief stays on a couple of occasions for business.
- Reception for the Young Scribbler: You might return here to compare Stephen’s reception in the newsroom to one he will receive from intellectuals later at the library. Crawford wants Stephen to crank out copy for the paper. He is enthusiastic about young Dedalus’ abilities. Though welcoming of Stephen, newsroom hangers-on are all failures and omens of what little could come of Stephen’s talent.