Though I realize that Ulysses is a masterful paradigm of innovative techniques (or so the faculty of the university would have one believe) – it is the conflicting natures of Buck Mulligan and Stephen Dedalus which I find of primary (if not sole) interest.
Dedalus is a disillusioned, Jesuit trained academic with literary aspirations. His academic pursuits have led to a symbolic burning of his wings (his emotional detachment) as he rose to “the enlightenment of the Sun.” He tolerates neither the abusive Buck Mulligan nor the condescending Oxonian Haines (the coinhabitants of Martello Tower) and feigns interest in the citizenry of Dublin.
Buck Mulligan is a cynical man of action. He mocks Dedalus’ beliefs and intellectual prowess. Whereas Dedalus fears water (perhaps symbolizing baptism) – Mulligan once saved a drowning man. Mulligan “plunges into life” while Stephen meekly questions existence and his place in reality. Mulligan can ingratiate himself to the “peasantry” (see the encounter with the unpaid Milk woman) while Dedalus broods on Irish history and appears the elitist.
Stephen has been “blinded by the Sun” and lives in a shapeless world. His feelings of guilt (primarily concerning his mother’s hideous death and the abandonment of his sisters to poverty) coupled with his sense of estrangement necessitates a continuous introspection as recourse. His relentless pursuit of absolute truths (a concept dear to the Aristotelian Jesuits) clarifies little and fuels his discontent. As a teacher he is uncaring – oblivious to the inadequacies of his students. As an employee he is held in light regard. “You were not born to be a teacher, I think…To learn one must be humble” states the schoolmaster, Mr.Deasy (35). His literary views are scorned by his contemporaries and he is not considered a poet of any promise.
Yet Dedalus is a hero of a different ilk. Stephen is a sincere “thinker” and as such is diametrically opposed to Mulligan – “the man of action.” He considers the import of his actions and grieves his perceived sins – Mulligan hides in cynicism.
A Tale of Two Cities Essays: A Sad Tale Of Two Cities
A Tale Of Two Cities
The focus of A Tale Of Two Cities concerns the impetus and fervor of 18th century European socio-political turmoil, its consequences, and what Dickens presents as the appropriate response of an enlightened aristocracy and just citizenry.
The tale opens with Dr. Manettte having spent the last 18 years of his life in the Bastille – innocent of all crimes save his disdain for the base actions of a French Marquis. The heinous nature of his confinement induced a madness remedied only by the devoted love of his Lucie.
We next encounter these characters five years later attending the trial of Charles Darnay – a nobly born French immigrant who relinquished his station rather than partake in the barbarous class structure of 18th century France.
The beautiful and virtuous Lucie Manette is admired by both Sydney Carton and his repugnant legal partner, C.J.Stryver. It is the inherently ethical Carton, not the aristocratic (and bellicose) Stryver who realizes that marriage to Charles Darnay would bring the greatest happiness to Lucie. Their bliss is short lived however,as the honor bound Darnay returns to Paris.
His prosecution is propelled by a vengeful and newly empowered Madame Defarge a “patriot of the revolution” who utilizes the revolutionary “People’s Tribunals” to redress grievances committed by the Evremonde clan. Aided by her cohort (aptly given the code name of “Vengeance”) retribution, not justice, is her sole concern. “…I have this race a long time on my register, doomed to destruction and extermination.”(370).
This savage character – “Madame’s resolute right hand was occupied with an axe,…and in her girdle were a pistol and a cruel knife”(244) – exhibits an anger so resolute and ferocious that its like may be comparable only to newly divorced female students here at N.Y.U. – but that is simply my experience.
Dickens does not portray Madame Defarge and her compatriots as morally bankrupt but rather depicts their inevitable creation in the oppressive aristocratic class structure of 18th century Europe. A Tale Of Two Cities is written in a perfectly linear progression of this theme. It initially portrays the oppressive nature of the aristocracy (the imprisonment of Dr. Manette, the accidental death of a child and the trite response of the Marquis – among other graphic illustration) which leads to the fervor of revolutionary assassins seeking justice.