The Character of Molly Bloom in Ulysses
In James Joyce's Ulysses, the character of Molly Bloom appears significantly only twice in the entire span of the novel. She appears for the first time in the episode "Calypso," then we do not hear from her again until the very end, in her own words, in "Penelope." Yet in these two instances, Joyce paints a very affectionate, lighthearted and humorous portrait of Molly Bloom -- perhaps not a complete rendition, but a substantial one, with enough colors and lines to sketch the person adequately.
Simply put, Molly (Marion) Bloom is an earthy woman. The "Penelope" episode provides a no-holds-barred, candid look into Molly Bloom's whirling mind. It is through this episode where Joyce gives us a startlingly frank look into her thoughts, which include rather coarse language as well as explicit references to sexual encounters. But Joyce presents them with humor, and never allows the material to grow heavy in terms of convoluted symbols and mechanisms. Instead, we witness Molly ponder various topics, and hence we begin to understand who she is.
When Joyce introduces us to Molly in "Calypso," he almost immediately presents us with a rather amusing image of a nonchalant, perhaps even aimless -- and to a certain degree, lazy -- woman. Remaining in her bed, she urges Leopold to "Hurry up with that tea" (62) and, inquires about a certain word after "having wiped her fingertips smartly on the blanket." (64) Her careless attitude demonstrated here adds to the lightheartedness Joyce intends. Later on in "Penelope," we witness another example of the humor:
I never thought that would be my name Bloom when I used to write it in print to see how it looked on a visiting card or practising for the butcher and oblige M Bloom youre looking blooming Josie used to say after I married him well its better than Breen or Briggs does brig or those awful names with bottom in them Mrs Ramsbottom or some other kind of a bottom. (761)
More humor consistently appears in this episode than any of the others in the novel. Some of it runs through at a flowing pace, such as the example above, and other types originate from Molly deliberately, such as when she discusses her visit to Dr. Collins on Pembroke road: "I said I hadnt are you sure O yes I said I am quite sure in a way that shut him up." (771) Joyce does not drown the episode in humor, but instead allows it to appear consistently (but stronger in some parts than others), which gives the soliloquy a wonderful light rambling quality.
On the flip side, Molly also has deeper thoughts than that of her pleasures and annoyances. The tremendous loss of her son affects her as much as it had affected and still affects Leopold. Her thoughts regarding this are the most poignant in her entire soliloquy:
I suppose I oughtnt to have buried him in that little woolly jacket I knitted crying as I was but give it to some poor child but I knew well Id never have another...