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Haines suggests that he might publish a collection of Stephen’s sayings, but Stephen impertinently suggests he’ll participate if he stands to make any money by it. He thinks to himself how Mulligan’s and Haines’ habit of bathing is an attempt to cleanse themselves of more than just dirt.
In the first panel of this page, there’s a kind of exchange between Haines’ dialogue and Stephen’s internal monologue. Of course, what Stephen is thinking to himself (in the dark boxes) is harder to understand than what Haines is saying out loud. “They wash and tub and scrub” refers back to Mulligan’s teasing about Stephen’s infrequent bathing (check the last page), which Stephen also associates with Lady Macbeth’s scrubbing.
“Agenbite of Inwit” is a little more obscure. It’s a Middle English phrase that means (again according to Professor Gifford) “remorse of conscience.” When you think about it, it makes wonderful sense. Your inner wits bite you. again.
The kick under the table is Mulligan kicking Stephen, so as to get him to perform his Shakespeare theory and close the deal on Haines’ support. Or at least to get Haines to buy a few round of drinks. But Stephen does not want to play–apparently he’s in no mood, and since he’s getting paid today he doesn’t need Haines’ help. So he does a decidedly un-English thing and puts his desire to be paid for his work out in plain view.
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Mulligan boldly tells Stephen to go to his job and earn money so they can all go out drinking later. Haines shares his plan for the day — a trip to the National Library — and Stephen shares his unusual approach to personal hygiene.
Thanks to Professor Gifford, I’m reminded that Mulligan’s line “Ireland expects that every man this day will do his duty” is lifted from Admiral Horatio Nelson.
Specifically, it is one of the final communications he made to the English fleet before the Battle of Trafalgar, where he was killed. And yes, he said “England” instead of Ireland on that occasion. We’ll be hearing more about “Nelson’s Pillar,” a monument erected to him in the middle of Dublin, but for now it’s interesting to note that the tower the gentlemen are living in is a souvenir of the Napoleonic wars in which Nelson was so instrumental. The design is copied from one that his navy found in the Mediterranean. And Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar is what made the tower largely superfluous.
So what are we to make of Stephen’s dislike of bathing? In Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Stephen experiments with mortification, and this could be seen as a revisiting of that experience. It also goes along with his mourning, and with what certainly looks like a diagnosable depression. It will also set a sharper contrast with Leopold Bloom, who we will see bathing later in the day.
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