Episode 18: Penelope, ~pp 723-783

Important Symbols & Phrases of Episode 18

  • “Mrs. Maybrick that poisoned her husband”: Domestic murders like the Maybrick and the Childe cases are splattered across the novel’s pages. The Maybrick murder is mayhem stemming from a love triangle. The Childe Case involves an unused key. In her middle-of-the-night monolog, Molly mentions the masterpiece of mystery fiction The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. The plot is laid out from separate perspectives under a kind of parallax by the main characters— this is also true of Ulysses. With gore all around, the Blooms are satisfied with a more modern solution to domestic disturbance. They settle grievances not with murder but by mutual manipulation, minor machinations and inconclusive infidelities.
  • “I never know the time even that watch he gave me never seems to go properly”: Time is a function of the Sun. Tracing its arc through the sky, we mark the hour. Hours for the male protagonists are scheduled, attended and recorded. There is no natural way to trace the time between sunset and sunrise. The indigo morning before yellow-gray and rose are Molly’s hours. The watch Poldy gave Molly doesn’t work simply because it has no meaning to Lady Moon (Gifford and Seidman). You may recall Molly is groggy in the morning episode, but her mind ticks in the middle of the night.
  • “the stone for my month a nice aquamarine”: Gifford and Seidman describe  the stone’s meaning as “preservation from folly.”  Molly is certainly not prone to folly. She is the most practical of women. She has served as a wily agent in gaining and keeping Poldy’s employment (although she failed with Cuffe). She tolerates a maid who engages in flirtations with Poldy but fires her for stealing oysters. Molly even selects lovers with discrimination for practical matters. She proclaims: “ O let them all go and smother themselves for the fat lot I care he has plenty of money and hes not a marrying man so somebody better get it out of him…. ” 
  • Molly’s poetry: In comparison with a potential new lover, young poet Stephen, Boylan again fails. She indicts him: “Hugh the ignoramus that doesnt know poetry from a cabbage thats what you get for not keeping them in their proper place pulling off his shoes and trousers there on the chair before me so barefaced without even asking permission and standing out that vulgar way….” After “met-him-pike-hoses” Stephen is now also Bloom, her Odysseus home from the sea. Gilbert reveals that in one version of Penelope’s story she marries Telegonus, son of Odysseus by Circe. Just so Molly might woo Dedalus.

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