Ulysses: Agenbite Of Inwit Essay

1851 words - 7 pages

James Joyce is, to put it simply, a very difficult and pretentious writer. His style is varying within each novel and he is constantly challenging formal writing norms even in his afterlife. Agenbite of inwit is translated from Middle English as “Remorse of Conscience,” Joyce uses this term in several places throughout Ulysses to show introspection of principle characters in relation to guilt. Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus portray agenbite of inwit in the chapters: Telemachus,Wandering Rocks and Circe.
The Ayenbite of Inwyt(original spelling) is a confessional style prose translated from the French Somme le Roi into a Kentish dialect of Middle English. Due to the incredibly poor work of the translator it is viewed more as a reference to Kentish pronunciation in the mid-14th century than as a work of literature. The Ayenbite of Inwyt is a treaty on Christian morality and was translated so that is would be accessible to laymen who weren’t familiar with French or Latin. The book and the term never gained much popularity. After Joyce’s use of the term in Ulysses, agenbite of inwit saw limited exposure that has been maintained through his lasting influence on modern literature.
The principle characters of Ulysses are Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom. Stephen is a young man, lost in life. Dedalus is moody, pretentious, and self-conscious; he is like many young adults of today's generation. Stephen Dedalus deals with remorse of conscience in context to the death of his mother. Dedalus comes back to Ireland after vowing to never return and sits at his mother's deathbed until she passes. Stephen refuses to pray at his mother's deathbed having denounced his religion in Portrait of the Artist as Young Man. His refusal to pray leaves him haunted a guilt ridden in the aftermath of his mother's death. When Stephen enters Ulysses he is still wearing black clothing to mourn his mother even though nearly a year has passed. Along with feeling guilt toward his mother Stephen is filled with agenbite of inwit towards his family, mainly his sister. Stephen has left home and makes a great effort to ignore/avoid seeing his father but his guilt shows up when his sister makes an appearance.
Leopold Bloom is Joyce's other principle character and could not be more different from Stephen. Bloom is a middle-aged man, married to Molly. Bloom and Molly have not had sexual relations with each other for many years but that doesn't mean Molly isn't being satisfied by someone else. Mr. Bloom plays the role of any man, he could be your next door neighbor or the guy you always see at the grocery store, he could be any middle-aged male. Bloom is also Jewish, though he has strayed from his Jewish upbringing-this is where on aspect of Bloom's agenbite of inwit is shown. As stated above Mr. Bloom hasn't had intercourse with his wife in far too long, he is still a sexual being though so he finds other ways to expel his desire, which leads to the other contributing factor of...

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