Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ulrich's Meaning

I decided to look into the matter of discussing Ulrich on an extremely literal level. First I did a little searching on what the name “Ulrich” could possibly mean. From dictionary.com I discovered that “Ulrich” means the following:


Ulrich: masc. proper name, from Ger., from O.H.G. Uodalrich, lit. "of a rich home," from
uodal "home, nobolity" (related to O.E. æðele "noble," O.N. oðal "home").


I think that the name itself is very fitting for all of the details that have been given to us so far about Ulrich and his childhood environment. (His father has a very high standing in the community of Vienna and obviously has money if he is able to help Ulrich buy a house.) With such an authoritative name given to him, Ulrich must have always felt that he had to live up to that name and live a ‘noble’ life coming from a rich and well standing point in the community.

With such high standards put on himself along with his constant comparative attitude, it is easily seen how Ulrich would see himself as an inferior part of the community and his family.

3 comments:

Deserae Abed-Rabbo said...

I find it very interesting that you looked up his name! What a novel thought! I do think that Musil put thought into the meaning of Ulrich's name. In addition, I think that it furthers the irony in Ulrich and his deficiency of noted qualities. I agree that the prestige of his name probably made Ulrich feel as though he would never be good enough within greater society., and I also will add that perhaps his father's expectations of him, even before his birth, weighed very heavily on him throughout his life in his familial setting as well.

Brooke Bowen said...

That makes sense especially in light of the fact that the expression 'man with qualities' is a self-made man or someone who works hard for what they have. Ulrich has been given what he has, and is 'without qualities.'

Sterling Mackinnon said...

Annie,
I also find this piece of personal research illuminating, and in a sense, it seems to re-enforce some of the literary irony that Musil uses in the other titles he gives Ulrich, namely "The Man Without Qualities" This isn't to say, however, that Ulrich doesn't enjoy the fruits of his class or his families social standing. Ulrich does come from a rich home, yet he doesn't identify with values or lifestyles pertaining to the Viennese middle class. Despite his name or his families history Ulrich symbolizes the dawn of a new generation...the distorted offspring of the bourgeoisie.