The word “parody” comes from the Latin parodia, meaning “burlesque song or poem”, but it has come to refer to any artistic composition in which “the characteristic themes and the style of a particular work, author, etc., are exaggerated or applied to an inappropriate subject for the purposes of ridicule.” Parody is used throughout Ulysses both as a form of comedy and as a critique. In the “Cyclops” episode, parody functions as a critique of the grand narrative, specifically in terms of history and the discourse of the nineteenth century. Parody is further used in order to subvert existing structures and hierarchies, as is apparent through the elements of Bakhtin’s conception of the Carnivale, which are present in the episode. In “Nausicaa”, Joyce parodies aspects of popular culture, particularly romance fiction and the censorship debate. This technique serves to highlight the relationship between language and consciousness, as well as the way in which discourses are constructed and interact with each other. By using parody, Joyce appears to be critiquing aspects of society and questioning the manner in which language is used to convey meaning.Parody in “Cyclops” serves to disrupt conventional notions of narrative. In particular, Joyce appears to be critiquing the notion of history as a grand narrative. The elevated language of the episode, as can be seen in the passage describing “a historic and a hefty battle,” acts as a parody of the literature drawn on by Irish nationalists in order to idealize Ireland’s heroic past. These writers offered popular versions of mythology using writing styles similar to nineteenth-century writers such as Carlyle. For the twentieth-century reader, however, these allusions might seem pretentious and inflated; Joyce appears to be parodying the passionate nationalists who celebrated the heroic past of the Irish people in this manner. The list of names of heroic leaders in “Cyclops” descends into complete farce, as it lists figures completely unconnected with Ireland, such as “Gautama Buddha” and “Jack the Giant Killer”, as well as some names that are simply invented. Joyce likewise parodies this idea of mindless drivel by concluding the narrator’s speeches with phrases such as “and so forth and so on”, “this phenomenon and the other phenomenon”, and “new Ireland and new this, that and the other”. These parodies reveal that extreme Irish nationalists grasped at almost anything to further their mission. Thematically, Joyce establishes an ongoing dialogue between Bloom’s “humanistic universalism” and the citizen’s narrow nationalism. The citizen refuses to acknowledge the possibility that Bloom can claim Ireland as his nation whilst also being a Jew. Bloom, on the other hand, postulates the humanistic view that “force, hatred, history…that’s not life for men and women…love…the opposite of hatred…that is really life.” Joyce seems to be critiquing the often fanatical nature of Irish nationalism, specifically the manner in which heroism is figured in terms of violence, and the fact that this fanaticism is encouraged at a cost to humanity.Furthermore, Joyce appears to be critiquing the grand narrative of nineteenth-century discourse. He does so firstly by juxtaposing colloquial passages narrated by an anonymous Dubliner with grandiose mythic passages such as “the nec and non plus ultra of emotion were reached when the blushing bride elect burst her way through…and flung herself upon the muscular bosom of him who was about to be launched into eternity.” The ridiculousness of this bombastic style is furthered by the subject matter: a wedding of trees. Indeed, the juxtaposition of this language with the narrator’s colloquial “God blimey if she aint a clinker” highlights the pretentiousness of the elevated form. Joyce uses an exaggerated multiplicity of adjectives such as “broadshouldered deepchested stronglimbed frankeyed redhaired freely freckled” to parody an overly descriptive style of writing and critique the imperialist nature of grand narratives that claim to offer a comprehensive view of events. In doing so, Joyce demonstrates an awareness that aspects of nineteenth-century literature cannot be translated. He appears to be critiquing the extent to which people who sought independence for Ireland attempted to translate to the twentieth-century notions that belong to the past and could not be recovered – especially not via inflated language.There is no clear narrative voice in this episode, as Joyce rapidly transitions from one narrative style to another. The shifting narrative also serves as a parody of the pretentious writing of the nineteenth century. Like the one-eyed Polyphemus in the Homeric parallel, each narrative presents a single view, offering the reader separate eyewitnesses who interrupt and contradict each other. This enables the characters to undergo a metamorphosis between various narrative frames. The medical journal parody, for example, transforms Bloom’s muddled scientific knowledge into a precise explication of physiology, as he becomes “Herr Professor Luitpold Blumenduft.” Through other narratives, the reader gets a vision of Bloom as a hero “O’Bloom, the son of Rory,” Bloom the “distinguished phenomenologist,” and ultimately “ben Bloom Elijah.” Joyce also appears to be engaging this type of narration in an effort to both define and limit it to a narrative structure. In doing so, he explores the breakdown in narration. At times, this occurs in the midst of a sentence, as in the episode’s final words: “ben Bloom Elijah, amid clouds of angels ascend to the glory of the brightness…at an angle of fortyfive degrees…like a shot off a shovel.” The sentence begins as a Biblical epic, shifts to a quasi-science journalistic style, and then shifts once again to colloquialism. The structure resembles a comic routine, with different voices presenting different views, which in turn highlight the unreliability of each individual perspective. Interestingly, Homer’s Polyphemus is both one-eyed and multi-vocal, echoing the ambiguities that Joyce explores in the episode. The parody in “Cyclops” can thus be seen as a microcosm of the parody of Ulysses the novel; that is to say, a parody of the epic form.Parody further functions to subvert existing structures and hierarchies. The events in “Cyclops” echo the revelries of the Carnivale as conceptualised by Bakhtin. Bakhtin underlines the predominance of “the material principle and the physical life with images of the body, or eating and drinking, and with the satisfaction of the natural urges.” The pub is site for informal socializing – the characters are tipsy from drink, and the environment is conducive to the kind of revelry associated with the Carnivale. There is a sense of anarchy about the episode, with characters indulging in excess, “[nearly eating] the tin and all,” and laying emphasis on the nether parts of the body, such as Molly Bloom’s bottom and the hanged man’s erection. Joyce appears to be staging a verbal carnival, first through the polyphony of voices, specifically the alternation of the lofty and vulgar styles, and secondly through the wordplay that characterises much of the episode. Within the episode are examples of antanaclasis (“Good Christ!…Who said Christ is good?”), etymology (“barber/barbarous/barbarian”), puns (“foul/fowl”), neologism (“codology”) and non-sequiteurs (“talking about new Ireland, he ought to go and get a new dog so he ought”). Parrinder characterises a carnival as a “world…turned bottom upwards…a forum in which a behaviour that is normally frowned upon…becomes sanctioned and overt.” In a carnival, the highest authority (usually the King) is insulted and beaten by the people. In “Cyclops”, Bloom is presented as this figure, the image of him “on point duty up” suggesting his superiority, which is highlighted by his refusal to join in the drinking session. It is thus significant that the end of the episode finds him being insulted and set upon by the dogs. The carnival is also a place where religion is parodied, and in this episode God undergoes a plethora of irreverent metamorphoses: “begob…Christ M’Keown…dog.” Here, the parody functions as a subversion of these figures of authority.In “Nausicaa”, parody serves as a critique of popular culture and highlights the manner in which aspects of popular culture seep into our consciousness. Gerty McDowell’s language and consciousness is an amalgam of romance literature, fashion magazines, advertising, and folk wisdom. The first half of “Nausicaa” is often read as a parody of the sentimental novel, and particularly The Lamplighter, written by Maria Cummins in 1864, which features a heroine named “Gertrude”. The frequent usage of exclamation marks, as in “O so lively! O so soft, sweet, soft!” and exaggerated use of “O!” parodies the emotive, heightened language of romance fiction. Joyce himself referred to the language of this half of the episode as “namby-pamby jammy marmalady drawsery.” Interestingly, many of the references to fashion magazines and advertising occur in parenthesis, such as “(because it was expected in the Lady’s Pictorial that electric blue would be worn),” suggesting a kind of ‘aside’, as if these aspects of popular culture create resonances that infiltrate our consciousness at particular moments.Gerty herself is a parody of the romantic heroine, one who “completely [represses] all sexual desires and awareness of her own physical being…she must be an object.” Gerty, however, is aware of her sexual desires and cannot keep her fantasies pure, imagining that Bloom’s “hands and face were working and a tremor went over her.” She is further aware that she is being watched, and seems to enjoy being seen, deliberately “[revealing] all her graceful beautifully shaped legs” to Bloom. This awareness of her sexual power is at odds with the stereotype of this sort of heroine, and as such, Gerty becomes the antitheses of the romantic heroine. Parody also serves to critique the censorship debate. The idea that young women were vulnerable to any moral deviance in works of fiction was particularly highlighted by the sensational novel outrage of the nineteenth century. These “sensational” novels were considered dangerous because they “made readers read with their bodies.” Gerty is a virgin who is aware of her own sexuality because she reads – exactly what advocates against sensational novels feared. Joyce’s ironic twist, however, is that Gerty read a romance novel with a typically asexual heroine, rather than “sensational” fiction, seemingly mocking the whole censorship debate. Perhaps Joyce is critiquing the readiness with which people vilify literature in order to create a scapegoat for societal problems. The issues facing Irish society during Joyce’s time are revealed through the virgin/whore dichotomy. On one hand, Irish Catholicism postulated the doctrine of Mary-olatry, but on the other, Ireland had a sizeable population of prostitutes. In The Lamplighter, Gertrude models herself after the Virgin Mary. Likewise, in the “Nausicaa” episode of Ulysses, Gerty tries to see herself in this light, as the “refuge of sinners…comfortress of the afflicted” – allusions to the Holy Virgin. However, her sexual awareness means she must fail as this figure. The juxtaposition between Gerty’s sexuality and the Virgin Mary’s takes on a comic element as the discrepancy between Gerty’s vision of herself and what she really is becomes wider. Joyce’s parody of the would-be virgin seems to allude to the hypocrisy of societal attitudes at the time. The doctrine of Mary-olatry also suggests transubstantiation. It is thus interesting that Gerty’s stockings are a diaphanous object, recalling the motif of the diaphane that permeates previous episodes in Ulysses. Aristotle spoke of the diaphane as a medium that enables things to show their actual selves only in light, begging the question of where the source of the light is located. This parallels the question of the where the source of creativity – and particularly the creation of language – can be found.This question is explored through parody, as it highlights the relationship between language and consciousness. This is firstly considered through the construction of character-specific discourses. Gerty may be a typical example of “winsome Irish girlhood,” but that is because she is a composite of the discourses that construct the ideal Irish female. The parody occurs through Joyce’s subversion of this ideal construct, wherein Gerty appears to be deluding herself into believing that she is this ideal. There are several images in the episode that suggest Gerty’s narcissistic delusions, including her placement, like Narcissus, near “the little pool by the rock,” and her bedroom mirror, in front of which she “[smiles] at the lovely reflection which the mirror gave back to her!” Gerty appears to be deliberately constructing this image of herself, perhaps in order to mask her insecurities about her role as a woman, and it is thus significant that we discover that she is lame, as we realise that she is not the ideal female form she makes herself out to be.Gerty thinks of Bloom in terms of masculine stereotypes: “her dreamhusband…[who] would embrace her gently, like a real man, crushing her soft body to him.” She is portrayed as a “typical” woman, who imagines the possibilities of marriage and children, whilst Bloom is the “typical” man, who sees Gerty merely as an object of desire. In this sense, Bloom’s narrative is very much part of his character. This raises the question of linguistic determination, and of whether we can think outside of our own language. Bloom acknowledges this question when he describes his erotic communication with Gerty as “a kind of language between us.” He is aware that something has taken place, and wonders whether or not that is a language. Joyce seems to be engaging with those points of nexus between thought and language, and makes the reader question whether it is possible to document them. The two voices in this episode create an intratextual parody. Gerty is observing Bloom as he observes her, and as such, the characters function simultaneously as both the representor and the object of representation. Bakhtin claims that this dialogical relationship can be regarded as a parodic relationship, stating that “in parodic discourse two styles, two ‘languages’ come together…the language being parodied…and the language that parodies.” Likewise, the two voices of Gerty and Bloom critique and comment on each other. The unreliability of Gerty’s account of what happened between herself and Bloom is highlighted by the juxtaposition of Bloom’s discourse against her own. Gerty romanticises her physicality, and subsequently Bloom’s reaction to it, claiming that “his eyes burned into her as thought they would…read her very soul.” This stands in direct contrast to Bloom’s matter-of-fact, coarse reaction, “I saw your. I saw all. Lord!” and after masturbating, “for this relief much thanks.” At one time, both discourses act as parodies of the other. Bloom appears preoccupied with the coarse physicality of females, thinking about them in terms of menstruation, orgasms, and their bodies, and in this manner enables us to laugh at Gerty’s romantic view of her physicality while simultaneously critiquing her constructed discourse. Indeed, Bakhtin cites critique through laughter as the first foundation of novelistic discourse, because “these parodic-travestying forms…destroyed the homogenising power of myth over language.” In these two episodes, parody serves to critique the values of Joyce’s society both present and past, and to explore the different facets of language. In “Cyclops”, parody functions specifically as a critique of the grand narrative, and is used to subvert existing structures and hierarchies. Joyce parodies aspects of popular culture in “Nausicaa” to highlight the relationship between language and consciousness, and to reveal the manner in which discourses are constructed and interact with each other.SourcesBakhtin, M. Rabelais and His World (trans. H. Iswelolsky). Indiana UP, Bloomington, 1984Bakhtin, M. “The Pre-history of Novelistic Discourse”, from The Dialogic Imagination: Four EssaysBennett, A and Royle, N. An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory: Key Critical Concepts. London: Prentice Hall, 1995Bullocks, A and Stallybrass, O. The Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thought. London: Fontana/Collins, 1977Cohen, L. “Sensation Fiction of the Nineteenth Century”, from http://caxton.stockton.edu/ulysses/disc.msg 12/10/2002, accessed 29/5/04Devlin, K. “The Romance Heroine Exposed: Nausicaa and The Lamplighter.” James Joyce Quarterly, 22.4 (1985)Goldman, A. The Joyce Paradox. Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd, London, 1966Henke, S. James Joyce and the Politics of Desire. Routledge, London, 1990Joyce, J. Ulysses. Penguin Classics, London, 2000 (ed. Declan Kiberd)Leckie, B. “Reading Bodies, Reading Nerves.” James Joyce Quarterly, 34.1-2 (1996)Newman, R. Pedagogy, Praxis, Ulysses. University of Michigan Press, Michigan, 1996Parrinder, P. James Joyce. Cambridge UP, Cambridge, 1984Tymoczko, M. The Irish Ulysses. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994
As Leopold Bloom goes through the ordinary motions of a single day, he tries at times to add excitement and mystery to his life so that he may imagine himself as an extraordinary man with exceptional problems. Bloom does this so as to dispel the frightening notion that he is only an ordinary man with relatively commonplace troubles. If he can imagine that he is an extraordinary man in extraordinary circumstances, his tragedies gain a sense of importance, instead of being meaningless miseries that he must bear alone, in silence. Bloom’s “affair” with Martha is just one of the ways that he attempts to add excitement to his life, so that he does not feel quite so ordinary. The fact that he has a forbidden secret lends excitement and mystery to Bloom’s life, as does the actual act of keeping his affair hidden from everyone else. Bloom takes unnecessary pains to avoid having his communication with Martha discovered, indulging his fantasy that somebody might care about his life. Additionally, Bloom seems, at times, almost to revel in his sadness about Molly’s affair, presumably because this allows him to imagine himself a tragic hero valiantly bearing his hard life. Bloom is unquestionably an ordinary man, and while his “affair” with Martha and his marriage difficulties are hardly extraordinary circumstances that nobody else has experienced, Bloom finds a kind of solace by creating a fantasy with himself as the central tragic figure. He revels in the secrecy surrounding his affair and his sadness about his marriage problems because they enable him to feel less like an ordinary man who is like every other man going through an ordinary day which is like every other day. This day in Leopold Bloom’s life is, while unusually difficult due to the funeral and his wife’s upcoming infidelity, not entirely out-of-the-ordinary. Although the circumstances of the day on which Ulysses takes place are slightly extraordinary, it is clear that Bloom is an ordinary man dealing with a single day in his life. Bloom is obviously an intelligent man, as the reader may infer from his intellectual thoughts regarding everything from physics to parallax, and he certainly is aware of how ordinary he is. His desire to be extraordinary — to be an exciting, mysterious man — is what causes him to initiate his “affair” with Martha. The affair, however, has thus far consisted solely of a few only indirectly suggestive letters. This is certainly no wild, passionate romance — the correspondence is hardly even incriminating. Bloom, however, has elevated the affair in his mind to heights far disproportionate to the reality of their communication. He takes unnecessary precautions to avoid being “caught”: Corresponding under a pseudonym; using a P.O. Box; shredding the envelope his letter comes in and casting it into the river. The pseudonym of Henry Flower and the phony address serve to literally transform Bloom into another person — a person, presumably, who is able to do exciting things, things that Leopold Bloom can only dream of doing. The shredding of the letter is almost a spy tactic, as though Bloom fears that someone is trailing him, picking up evidence of any subversive acts he might be engaging in. Additionally, Bloom only removes Martha’s letter from his pocket when no one is around, perhaps imagining that someone might be watching him. The reality, of course, is that nobody would pay any heed to a man walking down the street reading a letter. Nobody would even wonder what was written on the page. Yet to Bloom, the letter-writing is thrilling in it’s surreptitiousness, and the possibilities that the correspondence seems to imply are incredibly exciting, because a real affair is such a forbidden act. The relationship with Martha possesses great importance to Bloom, as he can imagine himself a man in control of his own life, not an emasculated “Poldy,” and he can feel some excitement in his life at the possibility of being caught. “Go further next time. Naughty boy: punish” (64). Bloom revels in the excitement of doing something wrong, of being a “naughty boy” for perhaps the first time ever, even if his actions are only “wrong” in his own mind. In Chapter 11, Bloom has a fantasy that he is being followed, his correspondence tracked, and so he must cover the evidence of his communication with Martha. Through this fantasy, he lends excitement and importance to what is only, in reality, a relatively tame psuedo-relationship. While sitting in the tavern and responding to Martha’s letter, Bloom draws out the experience of doing something forbidden, taking the time to disguise his handwriting and blot over the impression on the blotting-pad. “No, change that ee… Sign H. They like sad tail at end… Blot over the other so he can’t read. There. Right. Idea prize titbit. Something detective read off blottingpad” (229-30). Again, of course, the reality is that no-one would take any notice of an impression on a blotting-pad, take the time to decipher it, or even care about what was written if they could read it. However, by imagining not only that someone would attempt to discover his secrets but that they would care about them, Bloom is able to give himself a fleeting sense of being a mysterious, important man. All of the little fantasies and dramatics that Bloom engages in are ways for him to feel that he is important, special – more human. Another way that Bloom is able to make his life (in his mind, anyway) more exciting and out-of-the-ordinary than it really is is by reveling in the “tragedy” that his marriage has become. While his marriage difficulties are not fantasies, as his affair with Martha is, they have a similar effect on Bloom. How he feels about the affair with Martha and how he feels about Molly’s affair with Boylan both serve to enhance Bloom’s sense of being important, being alive. The affair with Martha makes Bloom feel like more of a man, and his sadness over Molly’s affair makes Bloom feel like more of a human. His sadness over Molly is real; a real emotion that Bloom clings to so as not to lose his humanity. He can feel that he has chosen not to take action, like he can still make choices and is almost noble for choosing not to confront Boylan. Certainly, Bloom is a non-confrontational person, but perhaps he chooses to ignore the affair and let it go on because the sadness makes him feel truly, genuinely human. Molly’s affair with Boylan adds a kind of perverse excitement to Bloom’s life by making him the center of what is really a common man’s tragedy. Bloom is forced to feel deep sadness, and almost begins to enjoy the feeling, because it makes him feel somewhat extraordinary. Deep sadness can make one feel special, important, as though no one can understand the suffering, and Bloom takes what seems, at times, to be a kind of pleasure in his misery. The emotions which he feels whenever he thinks of Molly make him feel more alive, and thus important. Although he makes an effort to banish any thoughts of Boylan that enter his head, Bloom is, subconsciously or not, encouraging the affair to some extent. Not only does he not make any effort to stop Molly, but he also buys her romance novels and lingerie. When Molly hides the letter from Boylan under her pillow, Bloom notices yet makes no comment about her secretiveness. Molly’s attempt to hide the letter, however, is very much like Bloom’s secretiveness about his correspondence with Martha. Perhaps Bloom enjoys, in a way, the degree of mystery that their respective affairs impart to their lives. Additionally, Bloom encourages Molly by not going home at the time when he knows Boylan will be visiting. Although he spends the day attempting to keep the thought of Molly’s affair out of his head, he also does absolutely nothing to stop it. Clearly, their marriage has not been going well since Rudy’s death, so perhaps Bloom feels that he is not losing anything by Molly’s affair, as he was not sleeping with her anyway, but is only gaining a degree of excitement in his life. Even though this excitement manifests itself, in Bloom, as misery, misery is better than absence of emotion. At times, misery may even feel better than happiness. Misery has a unique quality – it has the ability to make the sufferer feel real in a way that not even joy can match. Misery is a true emotion – undeniable, incapacitating in it’s strength. In Chapter 11, right after thinking about Molly, Bloom thinks “[y]et too much happy bores” (228). Although it seems bizarre, too much happiness can feel almost unreal, as though one is just waiting for something to go wrong. The advantage to misery is that there is always the certainty that one can feel no worse. Too much happiness can be boring – misery is far more exciting, for it is an emotion far deeper than happiness can ever be. Bloom sadness about Molly’s affair makes him aware that he still has the ability to feel great emotion. Perhaps this is the most emotion he has felt towards her in years, and his sadness about her loving another man is a way for him to reassert the love that he still has for her. Bloom’s misery about Molly allows him to feel a kind of excitement of feeling that affirms his humanity and his ability to experience deep emotions, and it is for that reason that he does not take action to put an end to the affair. In Ulysses, Leopold Bloom is faced with the greatest tragedy of the common man: being common. Although Bloom’s situation is hardly what one would consider ideal, or even desirable, he is doing the best that he can to impart some shred of excitement or emotion into his otherwise commonplace life. For Bloom, the fantasy of an affair is better than having nothing to dream about, and unhappiness is preferable to no feeling at all. The tragedy implicit in Ulysses comes from the reader’s ability to identify so closely with Bloom, and the subsequent realization that we are all common men. Each of us must contend, alone, with the everyday tragedies of life, and each of us persists, in our own way, in the futile search to find some meaning in the hardships of life.
Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot and James Joyce’s Ulysses are strikingly similar in style, content, and most significantly a philosophy of life. The idea of language as doubly futile and liberating is central to both works. It is found in the playfulness of language in Beckett’s dialogue and Joyce’s description. Every aspect of each form is carefully utilized in communicating this point. Language is only one institution among many that control and confine the individual. But its many flaws and contributions to our lives can represent a larger realm of meaning. Both works strive consistently to define, however subtly or indirectly, the meaning of life and the self. Like language, consciousness and experience are factors in the frustrations of existence, and therefore central to both works.In both works, experience is reduced to its simplest meaning, its briefest form. This can be seen in the setting and dialogue in Beckett’s play and Joyce’s attention to extreme detail in each moment of one day. Beckett reduces the setting of his play to simply “A country road. A tree. Evening.” (Beckett, 1) And Joyce’s stream-of-consciousness style of writing inside of Leopold Bloom’s head piles detail upon detail. These are the units of experience that are then stretched out again to expand time and examine its passing. In the human consciousness, these units are experiences. In the English language, the building blocks are the words themselves, even down to the different letters that make them up. (Philip Fisher, in lecture, 10/25/99)Words trigger recognition in the mind of the reader or human being, in the same way experience serves the consciousness. And letters, until combined in a certain way, are absurd symbols without meaning. Like human life, the use of letters and words to create meaningful language is a process in question by both of these authors. In Ulysses, Leopold Bloom explains the meaning of the word “metempsychosis” to his wife Molly when she points it out in a book. (Joyce, 52) Much later in Bloom’s day, he identifies the word as “met him pike hoses” because that is what “she called it till [he] told her…” (Joyce, 126) Here, the word becomes four words and although it means the same to Bloom, it has been dissected and expanded for the reader. Molly’s naïve blundering in pronouncing a large word makes a commentary on both the excesses and capacity for growth of the English language. And Bloom further conveys this subtle message with “She’s right after all. Only big words for ordinary things on account of the sound.” (Joyce, 126) This is dually a unit of experience and of language that is being explored. Joyce illuminates one word to propose ideas about language, and reveals one moment in Bloom’s consciousness to show an aspect of his relationship with his wife.The examination of language is different in Waiting for Godot because it must occur in dialogue, or an audience cannot see it. Beckett clearly doesn’t have Joyce’s freedom in printing words on a page for readers to examine, letter by letter. Instead, he must achieve the same effect in the spoken form. Language survives a kind of transformation when it is actually spoken. The effect of speaking is noted when Vladimir shortens the question “You want to get rid of him?” to one word, “You waagerrim?” (Beckett, 31) In the same way metempsychosis became four words, Vladimir can make one word out of many. But language also transforms in different ways. To communicate this, Beckett makes use of repetition in dialogue. Characters say the same thing in different ways, and the audience is reminded of the capacity of language. When Vladimir asks the Boy “Does he give you enough to eat?” and “The Boy hesitates,” the question is simply rephrased as “Does he feed you well?” (Beckett, 56) Although these two sentences could seem to be the same question, they are not asking the same thing. This is illustrated by the fact that the boy responds to the second one, though he had hesitated to the first. There are many moments of renaming in this manner.The back-and-forth banter of Vladimir and Estragon creates the perfect form for reducing to smaller units and then repeating. The brief, nearly incomplete sentences of the two men mean something when they are said together, each component equally completing the expression. The simple observation of a tree brings about such a moment:ESTRAGON: What is it?VLADIMIR: I don’t know. A willow.ESTRAGON: Where are the leaves?VLADIMIR: It must be dead.ESTRAGON: No more weeping.VLADIMIR: Or perhaps its not the season.ESTRAGON: Looks more like a bush.VLADIMIR: A shrub.ESTRAGON: A bush.(Beckett, 8)
If we examine Ulysses for the use of animals, we soon realize that Joyce draws on an extensive bestiary which includes basilisks, wrens, pigs, eagles, hyenas, panthers, pards, pelicans, roebucks, unicorns, dogs, bats, whales and serpents among others. All the beasts included in Ulysses carry symbolic meaning which is closely linked to the characters themselves and to the circumstances they are in. Interestingly enough, not much has been written about Joyce’s imagery as far as animals are concerned. There are some interesting journal articles but they do not go beyond analyzing porcine, cattle and horse images in Ulysses. Rather than covering a wide range of beasts and their meanings, this paper will focus on the analysis of canine imagery throughout the book and will attempt to unravel its meaning in the story.The first evident observation when dealing with dog images is the recurrent use of the word dog and its derivatives throughout the book. Take for example, Chapter 1 (Telemachus) where Buck Mulligan, who was shaving himself, kindly calls Stephen “dogsbody” (112) before asking him how the secondhand breeks fitted him. According to Gifford, this was a colloquial use of the term for a person who does odd jobs, usually in an institution. Joyce also plays with the inversion of the word God/dog in Chapter 15 when in Bloom’s hallucinations the voice of all the damned say “Htengier Tnetopinmo Dog Drol eht rof, Aiulella!” (4708), Adonai utters “Dooooooooog!” (4710) and then the voice of all the blessed pronounce the phrase in the correct way “Alleluia, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth!” (4712) and Adonai calls “Gooooooooood.”The word dog is also used in phrases such as the one Rudolph uses when scolding his son in Chapter 15. He tells Bloom: “one night they bring you home drunk as dog after spend your good money.” (267). Bloom himself uses the phrase “dog of a Christian” when, in his dream, he orders to shoot Leopold M’Intosh (1563)There are so many examples like the ones above-mentioned that no list can be exhaustive. However, the purpose of the present work is not to deal with the use of the word dog, but rather with “flesh and bone” dogs, their effects on the characters and their possible meaning and contribution to the story.In order to start analyzing their meaning in Ulysses, I will first make reference to what the Dictionary of Symbolic and Mythological Animals says about the subject of my study. According to this dictionary, there is evidence that the dog was domesticated in 7500 BC. It is not only the oldest animal companion of humanity but also has the widest range of uses in friendship, guarding, hunting and herding.Notwithstanding its use in symbolism and myth, it is ambivalent, revered and a close companion in some societies and despised and execrated in others. It can also be either a solar or lunar animal. Solar dogs chase away the Boar of Winter. They are fire-bringers and masters of fire, destroying the enemies of light.Lunar dogs are associated with Artemies, Goddess of the Moon and of the hunt. They are intermediaries between moon deities.Apuleius says that “the dog… denotes the messenger going hence and thence between the Higher and Infernal powers.” It is a guardian of the underworld, attends on the dead and leads then to the next world.Plutarch says dogs symbolize “the conservative, watchful, philosophical principle in life.” They embody qualities of fidelity, watchfulness and nobility; they are also credited with psychic powers and the dog is often a culture hero or mythical ancestor.In Sumero-Semitic symbolism, the significance of the dog varies. It is evil and demonic. The Semitic antipathy towards the dog was carried over into Judaism where, except for in Tobit, where Tobias has a dog companion, the dog was held in contempt as unclean and a scavenger and was ritually taboo (Matthew 7:6), associated with whoremongers (Deuteronomy 23:18) and sorcerers, fornicators and idolaters (Revelation 22:15)In Graeco-Roman myth the dog is again ambivalent, the term “cynic”- that is, “dog-like”- is derogatory and implies impudence and flattery. Homer says the dog is shameless, but on the other hand, it is associated with Aesculapius or Asclepios the skilled physician and healer, and the dog also heals by rebirth into life. Its fidelity survives death.It also accompanies Hermes/Mercury as messenger god – presiding wind and the Good Shepherd.The dog is important in Celtic myth and appears frequently with hunter-gods. Dogs are associated with the healing waters. They are also psychic animals connected with divination and they are frequently metamorphosed people in Celtic lore.In Christianity the dog represents fidelity, watchfulness and conjugal fidelity. It is also depicted with the Good Shepherd as a guardian of the flock and in this aspect can also symbolize a bishop or priest.In the Bestiaries dogs typify sagacity, fidelity and priests as watch dogs since they drive away the trespassing Devil and protect the treasures of God.Dogs appear frequently in Heraldry, esp. in England (greyhounds, bloodhounds and foxhounds)The Black Dog, a huge, shaggy ghost-dog with fiery eyes is a frequent theme in haunting and is usually a portent of death; it can be harmless if not touched, but to touch it is to die.Having this background information in mind, we will observe that Joyce has attached to the Ulysses’ dogs the symbolism of more than one culture.In chapter 3 (Proteus), the first real dog appears. In fact, the first dog Stephen notices is a dead dog: “A bloated carcass of a dog lay lolled on bladderwrack.”(286) He observes the surroundings, noticing “the gunwale of a boat, sunk in sand.” He draws a parallel between the sand and the language and realizes the importance hidden underneath: “These heavy sands are language tide and wind have silted here.(…). Hide gold there. Try it. You have some. Sands and stones. Heavy of the past.” Thus, this first dead dog seems to be symbolic of the metaphorical death of the beauty of language which, though a valuable asset, is hidden in the past. As Gifford points out in his note 9.953, according to Robert Graves, in Celtic mythology the dog’s epithet is “Guard the Secret.” Therefore, this dead dog may have been the faithful guardian of language.Stephen soon sees another dog: “A point, live dog, grew into sight running across the sweep of sand.”(294) This dog doesn’t trigger meditation; on the contrary, Stephen is rather afraid of him: “Lord, is he going to attack me?” (295) He seems to receive God’s response in no time “Respect his liberty. You will not be master of others or their slave.”(296) Such an answer does not bring any comfort to him. He checks his stick and sits tight until he runs back to the two figures who are walking along the shore. Stephen remarks that the “two maries tucked it safe among the bulrushes” (298) He has witnessed something he was not supposed to see. Then, the dog as the guardian of the women’s secret discovers that Stephen has been watching. “The dog’s bark ran towards him, stopped, ran back.” (310) In this case, Stephen “just simply stood pale, silent, bayed about. Terribilia meditans.”(311) It is in that moment that he starts thinking about the man who had drowned nine days before and he imagines himself in that situation and reflects upon such a terrible death. Gifford suggests that Stephen envisions himself as Acteon who, because he interrupted Diana while she was bathing, was transformed into a deer or roebuck. It is also a traditional symbol of the hidden secret of the self. In Celtic mythology its epithet is “Hide the Secret.” Likewise, Stephen will not reveal the secret to the reader. Then, there approaches a woman and a man’s dog called Tatters. He “ambled about a bank of dwinding sand, trotting, sniffing on all sides. Looking for something lost in a past life.” (331) Then, “the man’s shrieked whistle struck his limp ears. He turned, bounded back, came nearer, trotted on twinkling shanks.”(333-334) This illustrates the dog’s obedience and loyalty towards the human being. As Gifford states, Stephen then translates the dog on the beach into the language of heraldry: “On a field a tenney a buck, trippant, proper, unattired”(337) tenney: orange or tawny; trippant applied to a stag when walking; proper: in natural colors; unattired: without antlers (unusual in heraldry because it would imply impotence). The dog then “halted with stiff forehoofs, seawardpointed ears. His snout lifted barked at the wavenoise…” (243) He, as a messenger, seems to be attentive to any message coming from the ocean. It is after this moment that Tatters discovers the dead dog. “The carcass lay on his path. He stopped, sniffed, stalked round it, brother, nosing closer, went round it, sniffling rapidly like a dog all over the dead dog’s bedraggled fell. Dogskull, dogsniff, eyes on the ground, moves to one great goal.” (248-249) The dog seems very interested in his discovery; this dog is humanized and he calls the dead dog “brother.” He inspects him closely and shows sympathy towards him. He adds: “Ah, poor dogsbody! Here lies poor dogsbody’s body.” If we remember what Mulligan called Stephen in the first chapter, we may assume that Stephen has almost transmuted into Tatters and that he observes the dead dog as his own carcass. So much so that the citation reads “sniffling rapidly like a dog.” (248) This may be the burial of his former self and the beginning of something new since he has his “eyes on the ground” meaning that he is inspecting the territory, examining his past, and he “moves to one great goal.” (249) Maybe a new Stephen will arise out of his deep meditation. Joyce may be employing the Celtic symbolism of metamorphosis here.Tatter’s owners call him back and kick him for having been smelling the old dog. Stephen has not been discovered by the dog this time. Tatter’s “hindpaws then scattered the sand: then his forepaws dabbled and delved. Something he buried there.” (359-360) Stephen remembers the riddle of the fox that is burying his grandmother and he thinks Tatter is doing the same. Once more, though not told, this image may reflect Stephen digging in his past and remembering his mother’s funeral.In chapter 6 (Hades), we are first shown the image of Mr Bloom’s dog. He is taking him to the Dog’s home and on the way he thinks about poor children, illnesses and death. When he gets there, he says: “Dogs’ home over there. Poor old Athos! Be good to Athos, Leopold, is my last wish. Thy will be done. We obey them in the grave. A dying scrawl. He took it to heart, pined away. Quiet brute. Old men’s dogs usually are.” (125-128) Gifford explains that the Dog’s home was maintained by the Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The home advertised its interest in strays and proclaimed: “The diseased painlessly destroyed.” He adds that Bloom’s father’s dog was apparently named after one of the three musketeers (Aramis, Athos, and Porthos) from Alexandre Dumas pere’s (1802 – 70) popular novel “Les trois musquetaires.” (Paris, 1844) According to Gifford, we can establish a comparison with The Odyssey since when Odysseus first approaches his manor house he weeps at the sight of his old dog Argos, “abandoned” on a dung heap outside the gates. The dog struggles to greet his master, “but death and darkness in that instant closed/ the eyes of Argos, who had seen his master/ Odysseus, after twenty years.” Joyce, in this case, shows not only Athos as being respected and honored by his owner, but also the intimate links human beings are capable of creating with animals.After dealing with the image of a dead dog, we move to another death when we read about Paltry’s funeral which is connected with the canine imagery through the use of the word “dogbiscuits.” The narrator describes the funeral saying: “It’s all the same. Pallbearers, gold reins, gold reins, requiem mass, firing a volley. Pomp of death. Beyond the hind carriage a hawker stood by his barrow of cakes and fruit. Simnel cakes those are, stuck together: cakes for the dead. Dogbiscuits. Who ate them? Mourners coming out.” (499-503) Gifford clarifies the meaning of dogbiscuits, stating that they are called that not only because simnel cakes are hard but also after the Aeneid, when the sibyl guiding Aeneas into the underworld throws “a morsel drowsy with honey and drugged meal” to the three-headed dog Cerberus. This dog imagery is sustained by the fact that Father Coffey is described as “Bully about the muzzle” (596) and “with a belly on him like a poisoned pup” (599) as if he were Cerberus. Joyce may be employing Christian symbolism in this case.In chapter 12 (The Cyclops), the reader encounters a large dog named Garryowen. This dog is more menacing for Bloom, and what is worse, Garryowen is in allegiance with Citizen, who, in spite of not being his owner, feeds the dog biscuits. It is an intimidating dog that inspires no mercy on any of the pub attendants: “The bloody mongrel let a grouse out of him would give you the creeps. Be a corporal work of mercy if someone would take the life of that bloody dog. I’m told for a fact he ate a good part of the breeches off a constabulary man in Santry that came round one time with a blue paper about a licence. (124-127) In fact, they want to get rid of him. His mere name, according to Gifford, has many connotations since Garryowen is a suburb of Limerick famous for its squalor and for the crudity and brutality of its inhabitants. Such characteristics can easily be applied to this dog, who in spite of doing nothing frightens the men who are in the pub. Garryowen is also the title of an Irish drinking song and also a famous Irish setter who was owned by J.J. Giltrap of Dublin. In turn, Old Giltrap’s: Gerty McDowell’s maternal grandfather. So there may be a remote connection between the dog and Bloom and Gerty’s “affair” in the sense that this dog, with the psychic power attributed to his species, may know in advance Bloom’s intention when seeing Gerty. This may also provide an explanation for Bloom’s fear of the dog and for the dog’s growling at Bloom.The Citizen, in contrast, befriends this dog and is portrayed as his master: “A couched spear of acuminated granite rested by him while at his feet reposed a savage animal of the canine tribe whose stertorous gasps announced that he was sunk in uneasy slumber, a supposition confirmed by hoarse growls and spasmodic movements which his master repressed from time to time by tranquilising blows of a mighty cudgel rudely fashioned out of Paleolithic stone.” (200-205) When Bloom enters the pub Old Garryowen starts growling again at Bloom. The Citizen mocks Bloom and says: “Come in, come on, says the citizen. He won’t eat you.” (399) Bloom enters but the dog keeps smelling him all the time. He has no merciful feelings towards the dog, he thinks the Citizen should “get a new dog Mangy ravenous brute sniffing and sneezing all round the place and scratching his scabs. And round he goes to Bob Doran that was standing Alf a half one sucking up for what he could get.” (284 -289) Bloom even disapproves of Alf for “trying to keep him from tumbling off the bloody stool atop of the bloody old dog and he talking all kinds of drivel about training by kindness and thoroughbred dog and intelligent dog: give you the bloody pip.” (291) Even when Garryowen is eating the biscuits can we hear Bloom complaining “Gob, he galloped it down like old boots and his tongue hanging out of him a yard long for more. Near ate the tin and all, hungry bloody mongrel.” (294-295) He is even more irritated when “the old dog seeing the tin was empty starts mousing around by Joe and me. I’d train him by kindness, so I would, if he was my dog. Give him a rousing fine kick now and again where it wouldn’t blind him.” (698-699) Bloom’s negative side is seen when the dog is near him. The Citizen mocks him again.: “-Afraid he’ll bite you? Says the citizen, jeering.” (700) Bloom tries to justify himself by telling him that the dog “might take (his) leg for a lamppost.” (702) There is such an intimacy, such a communion between the Citizen and Garryowen that when he calls the dog he “starts hauling and mauling and talking to him in Irish and the old towser growling, letting on to answer, like a duet in the opera. Such growling you never heard as they let off between them.” (705-706) Bloom instead thinks that the dog should be muzzled and describes him as “growling and grousing and his eye all bloodshot from the drouth is in it and the hydrophobia dropping out of his jaws.” (709-710) Bloom then imagines the dog as “Arsing around from one pub to another, leaving it to your own honour, with old Giltrap’s dog and getting fed up by the ratepayers and corporators. Entertainment for man and beast.(252-253)When the Citizen leaves the pub, he throws an empty can to Bloom and says:”- Did I kill him, says he, or what?And he shouting to the bloody dog:- After him, Garry! After him, boy!” (1903-1905)That is the last time they see the Citizen and the dog. However, something amazing happens just after the evil characters leave: “When, lo, there came about them all a great brightness and they beheld the chariot wherein He stood ascend to heaven. And they beheld Him in the chariot, clothed upon in the glory of the brightness… And they beheld Him even Him, ben Bloom Elijah, amid clouds of angels ascend to the glory of the brightness.” (1910-1917)A possible interpretation for this is that once evil, represented by Garryowen as the Black dog hereinabove mentioned, disappears, Bloom is able to ascend to a higher level. All his aggression will be left behind and we will see a more tolerant Bloom when he encounters dogs in chapter 15.In Circe, David Hayman says Joyce seems to have taken the whole book, jumbled it together in a giant mixer, and then rearranged its elements in a monster pantomime which includes every imaginable form of foolery but which may well be the most serious chapter in the book, a true rite of passage. Joyce makes no clear distinction between minor hallucinations and the normal surface and even introduces improbable elements into the characters’ hallucinations. As a result the visions and identities of Stephen and Bloom are blurred, universalized, mythicized; the components of their days are intermingled, so that their fates may momentarily be joined.Bloom is walking along the red-light district and, in his hallucinations, dog imagery is also present. First, he is approached by a dog with his “tongue outlolling, panting.” (632)When he is considering to “Go or turn? And this food? Eat it and get all pigsticky. Absurd I am. Waste of money. One and eightpence too much,” (358) a “retriever drives a cold sniveling muzzle against his hand, wagging his tail,”(359) and Bloom, unlike in Chapter 12, wonders about the fact that he is liked by dogs and he thinks, “Strange how they take to me. Even that brute today.” (660). He sees Garryowen and says, “Better speak to him first.” (661) He goes to him and thinks, “He might be mad. Dogdays.” Bloom is, “Uncertain in his movements.” But he tells him, “Good fellow! Fido! Good fellow! Garryowen!” The dog’s response is very different now: “The wolfdog sprawls on his back wriggling obscenely with begging paws, his long black tongue lolling out.” Bloom thinks it is the, “Influence of his surroundings.” (665) Then, Bloom, “calling encouraging words he shambles back with a furtive poacher’s tread, dogged by the setter into a dark stale stunk corner. He unrolls one parcel and goes to dump the crubeen softly but hold back and feels the trotter.” (666-669) He shares his food with the dog who, “mauls the bundle clumsily and gluts himself with growling greed, crunching the bones.” (672) In that moment, two watchmen approach silently and tell Bloom:”First watch: ‘Caught in the act. Commit no nuisance.'(stammers) Bloom: ‘I am doing good to others’Bloom: ‘The friend of man. Trained by kindness.'” (680-685)We can see a complete reversal in Bloom’s attitude towards the dog. He seems to have learnt the lesson about training dogs by treating them kindly. Somehow, this setting, though certainly not an ideal one, has benefited Bloom. However, he is caught by the watch who are working for the “Prevention of Cruelty to Animals” (668) as the second watch explains to Bloom.When Bloom meets Stephen, there is a dog bark heard in the distance. This, shared by both of them, makes them become one, blurring their individual differences. The narrator tells us that “Stephen (murmurs), “…shadows… the woods… white breast… dim sea” (4941-4942) Then he “stretches out his arms, sighs again and curls his body. Bloom, holding the hat and ashplant, stands erect. A dog barks in the distance. Bloom tightens and loosens his grip on the ashplant. He looks down on Stephen’s face and form. (4944-4948) Bloom thinks Stephen’s face reminds him of, “his poor mother. In the shady wood. The deep white breast (…) (he murmurs)… swear that I will always hail, ever conceal, never reveal, any part or parts, art or arts….” (4950) Bloom is described as being, “silent, thoughtful, alert he stands on guard, his fingers at his lips in the attitude of secret master,” (4956-4957) and in that moment Rudy appears. Bloom in this final scene is also transformed into a watchful dog who will take care of the drunken Stephen as he did with Rudy. In this case, Joyce draws upon Plutarch’s dog symbolism since Bloom is the embodiment of fidelity, nobility and watchfulness.As Neil Russack stated in “Inner City books. Animal Guides in life, myth and dreams. An Analyst’s notebook,” humans and animals are capable of a deep and healing intimacy with one another. In Bloom and Stephen’s cases, their contact with dogs and their identification with them has been highly beneficial. Both of them, Stephen in Chapter 3 and Bloom in Chapter 15, seem to have developed a new self through the canine imagery. Without them knowing it, dogs change and refresh their lives. These dogs can be considered as solar animals in that they fire up Stephen and Bloom’s hearts.Joyce, besides depicting dogs as performing two of their basic roles, namely friendship and guarding, draws on the symbolism of different cultures to give his images a deeper meaning.BibliographyDictionary of Symbolic and Mythological Animals. Gifford, Don, and Robert Seidman. Ulysses Annotated. Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1989.Hayman, David. Ulysses: the mechanics of meaning. New Jersey, Prentice-Hall, 1970.Joyce, James. Ulysses. New York, First Vintage Books Edition, 1986.Russack, Neil. Inner City books. Animal Guides in life, myth and dreams. An Analyst’s notebook.Toronto, 2002.Schutte, William M. Index of Recurrent Elements in James Joyce’s Ulysses. Illinois, Southern Illinois University Press, 1982.
In Episode 8 of Ulysses, Joyce sends Bloom and the reader through a gauntlet of food that enlarges one of the novel¹s main linguistic strategies, that of gradual digestion. While Episode 10 may seem like a more appropriate choice for a spatial representation of the city, this episode maps digestion out like Bloom wanders the streets of Dublin, with thoughts entering foremost through the body and exiting them. In T.S. Eliot¹s poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” the stanzas deescalate the city from skyline to sea-bottom in accordance with the mock-hero¹s own inability digest thoroughly any complete thought all the way through.Bloom describes the process of eating with realism appropriate to the task: “And we stuffing food in one hole and out behind: food, chyle, blood, dung, earth good: have to feed it like stoking an engine” (144-5). Indeed, this is the path words take in the novel; they begin in a pure form, as written on a page (such as Martha¹s “Are you not happy in your home you poor little naughty boy?” which, despite its impure implications, is at least black ink on white paper) and filters into every stage of Bloom¹s journey (as in Episode 8, 137). The gradual digestion of words fits with another of Martha¹s lines, the typographical error “I called you naughty darling because I do not like that other world” (131). These words become “worlds,” carving out a space as they travel throughout Dublin with Bloom. Bloom tosses the “throwaway” into the Liffey, and its words sail down not only the river, but alongside Bloom, causing him trouble and marking him as a throwaway himself. Words often hint at their own creation or foreshadow another episode: “Pen something. Pendennis? My memory is getting. Pen ?” (128) Speaking both to the “pen” Joyce wields and to Molly as Penelope, the words are empty until endowed with meaning. Consider “plump,” which starts the novel off ambiguously. “Stately plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead” can be read with “plump” as an adjective for rotund or as a “sudden or abrupt fall or sinking down” (OED, 10.2), and eventually comes to stand for another of its 10 meanings prescribed by the OED, “cluster, bunch, clump” (OED, 1).This kind of word-digestion finds its spatial form in the blind stripling Bloom helps cross the street. The stripling is initially delineated by his relationship to food: “Stains on his coat. Slobbers his food, I suppose. Tastes all different for him. Have to be spoonfed first. Like a child¹s hand, his hand. Like Milly¹s was. Sensitive. Sizing me up I daresay from my hand” (148). The stripling¹s sensitivity to food, his loss of dexterity compensated for by his other senses, makes him more aware of Bloom in other ways: “Sense of smell must be stronger too. Smells on all sides, bunched together. Each street different smell” (149). The stripling digests places differently; he must cautiously approach each one as if it were new, a piece of meat dangling precariously off his fork he must safeguard. His sense of space is circumscribed visually but takes on a different, imaginative form: “See things in their forehead perhaps: kind of sense of volume. Weight or size of it, something blacker than the dark. Wonder would he feel it if something was removed. Feel a gap. Queer idea of Dublin he must have, tapping his way round by the stones” (148-9). Joyce boasted that Dublin could be rebuilt from the map of Ulysses and, indeed, we are led through it as the stripling is, with our own sensory mediationthe sound of words and their gradual digestion and deployment.”Prufrock,” too, scatters various phrases throughout its text to evoke a similar paralysis cloaking the city and its hero. The anaphoric refrain of “And” turns into a paratactic chain that bludgeons the reader with Prufrock¹s emasculated (a “prude” in a “frock”) anti-heroic inaction, forcing both Prufrock and the reader into “decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.” We are led down a path that corresponds with Prufrock¹s debased, muted voice. The “evening is spread out against the sky / Like a patient etherized upon a table,” emphasizing the paralytic (in a medical sense) telescopic view. The streets also bend to Prufrock¹s repetitive course, “follow[ing] like a tedious argument / Of insidious intent.” The opening imperative to “Let us go then, you and I” is distributed to the woman Prufrock sings his love song to as well as to the reader: we do follow the tedious argument, from the roof, window-panes, terrace and chimneys to the self-conscious descent of stairs to street level while Prufrock watches “lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out windows” to “the floors of silent seas” to, finally, the “chambers of the sea” in which Prufrock drowns, keeping an eye and ear to the surface giddiness of “mermaids singing, each to each.” Our paralysis in reading “Prufrock,” from stanzaic symmetries (“And would it have been worth it, after all”/”That is not is, at all,” used twice with minor variations) that indicate Prufrock¹s stalled action to the anatomization of pluralized body parts (“eyes”/”arms”) that rest heavily on a local item while emphasizing its multitude and power, “Disturb[s] the universe” as much as Prufrock¹s own perambulations do, that is, not at all. He only sinks further down, drowning not only in other “human voices” but, more importantly, in his own constipation.
With all the irregular movements in Nausicaa Gerty’s limping walk, Bloom’s masturbation, the jerky flight of a hovering bat , the abrupt and erratic changes of scene and perspective, and finally the seasick movement of the sea (1189; 1162, “Do fish ever get seasick?”) – one can’t help but accumulate a sensation of “nausea” (1187) over the chapter’s course. But if we can swing with the off-kilter events (and morals) in this chapter, we may begin to intuit that they are a portal to epiphany; Joyce’s espoused errata as portal has become “erratic erotica” as portal. At the outset of Nausicaa, we get many signals that the pending scene is of a special, radiant, and (self-consciously) “religiously marked” quality. Its events take place at a “mysterious” (1) hour, and will be presided over by the “pure radiance [of] a beacon… Mary, star of the sea”(7-8). Chants and incantations to Mary fill the beach; the narrative flashes quickly to evening incantations to her or related ecclesiastic ritual just before (289) and throughout the Bloom-Gerty encounter scene. We are given the slight impression that Gerty is the acting Mary in situ, the special avatar and representative of the famous virgin. A “child of Mary badge” (639) is inside her small drawer of most prized possessions as an object that associates her directly with the virgin; she might wear it on her chest and press it to her flesh, thus metonymically linking her to this “goddess.” (It seems more appropriate to call the Mary in Nausicaa “goddess” rather than “Mother of God/Jesus”; not once is Mary mentioned along with the latter description, and the Mary presented seems to be loosely linked only with other divine/saintly feminine entities, such as “Our Lady of Loreto” (288). She is a “blessed virgin” figure to whom prayers are sent in isolation; she is the prime and deity of the chapter, who “presides over all virgins” [and hence the three girl friends on the beach, two of which are “virgin-mothers” of sorts]. The mention of “Erin” further emphasizes the goddess valences i.e. as a principal and independent divinity not needing to be linked to a male deity that mark the chapter. Erin, the mythical female-name for the Irish Nation, is a “higher power” secondarily invoked by the figure and presentation of Gerty: “God’s fair land of Ireland did not hold her equal” (121-122). She, like Erin, metaphorically “reigns” over all of Ireland. The entourage on the beach catch “the last glimpse of Erin” (625), passing out as day turns to night. She, like Mary, is a temporal (moving) dusk goddess, who picks this “moving… gathering twilight” (624) time to manifest herself and be “seen”.) The Virgin’s epithet, “Mystical Rose”(374), is played out over Gerty’s body, further linking her viscerally to this “goddess.” She blushes several times, “crimsoning up to the roots of her hair” ( 454), once (she recalls) in front of a priest and also under the gaze of Bloom. Her cheeks were stained “rose”-color, and color “rose” to her face. Indeed her face (and hence person) performed a chameleon-transition to actually transmute into a potentially-mystic rose: “a burning scarlet swept from throat to brow till the lovely colour of her face became a glorious rose” (519-520), and “flushing a deep rosy red” (266). Indeed, Gerty, just post-climax, is described as having a “flowerlike face” (764). “She rose”(759), Joyce writes, just as she is getting up to leave the lingering Bloom and her “flowerlike” face looks as if it possesses a “strange shining” (763). This “shining” is both reminiscent of the halo of a saint, and an aura of sexual excitement. For, The multi-petaled rose could allude also to the female pubis. ( A perhaps complementary albeit more subtle – genitalia-reference to that of Bloom and his “stick”(895); “My fireworks. Up like a rocket, down like a stick…”. Bloom, incidentally, later throws the stick into the sand (1270); “it stuck”; indicating a successful and achieved action of metaphorical “copulation” he undertakes with the “virgin”). Bloom also notices that Gerty’s menstruation is coming on and ruminates on menstruation thoroughly, connecting it sexual excitement; this string of physiological musings can similarly be connected to an image of a blood-red rose, the (sweet) but pungent smell of the rose, and passion for which the rose is a common symbol. As avatar of the mystic rose, Gerty would not deny Bloom’s attentions or wants: “…the most pious Virgin’s intercessory power that it was not recorded in any age that those who implored her powerful protection were ever abandoned by her” (378-380). Gerty asserts in her mind that she will accept and “love him” despite his sins (see passage beginning 431). She does not deny Bloom as petitioner because she possesses the the com-passion of the virgin: she is womanly (on the cusp of menstruating and in flux with the lunar -cosmic- forces) and acts on her “natural” sexual/passionate drives with feeling (com-passion). She is an impartial agent of sexual feelings, feelings of sadness, guilt, and all others and more combined. Thus, the Bloom-Gerty tryst is linked to the pantheon of Catholic imagery and symbology. When Bloom at last ejaculates, it is to the bursting of a phallic-shaped “Roman candle”- a firework of a nomenclature alluding to the “Roman Catholic” Church, and recalls the candles in any Catholic church (or, specifically the flower-threatening candle in Father Conroy’s service (552-555)). We are left with the odd and scandalous suspicion that Bloom and Gerty are performing an illicit (but sacred) sacrament, juxtaposed to the eroticized, but “real” sacraments to Mary are taking place just over the beach and inside the building from whence arousing wafts of incense flow and fill the beach (371).But what is the nature and/or the spiritual fruits of this unsupervised sacrament? Upon the central “rose” epithet and allusion-set, Joyce fills this chapter with the greatest density of flower references in the book thus far. Reading this chapter is like walking through a field of scented and exotic vegetation; we read of “violets”(230), a “bunch of flowers”(336), “whiterose scent” (641), “violet ink” (642), “violet garters” (800), “heliotrope… hyacinth… jessamine”, (1009-1010), “sunflowers” (1089), “rhododendrons” (1098), as well as the flowers described in the various images of church ritual (“flowers and the blue banners of the blessed virgin’s sodality”: 448). And indeed, Henry Flowers/Bloom, seems to be experiencing some sort of intensified flowerly blooming: even when he opens his coat to attempt to smell a “mansmell” he is accosted with a flowerly scent (1041). The feminine has invaded every part of his being and has inundated even his most personal physicality. Bloom’s earliest and most timely envoy (in terms of the course of his epic-length day) of feminine-erotica/erotic epiphany, Martha, presaged this moment in her effusive but oblique letter. Henry, in this chapter, truly hits a timely stroke in which he may “Flower” and “Bloom” (ejaculate?); he is “damn glad” (786) that he didn’t do “it” in the bath that morning over Martha’s letter and conserved his juices for this rare moment offered up by a convergence of circumstance. First, there are the distracting fireworks that give Bloom and Gerty privacy from on-lookers (they are also at first mistaken for sheet lightning- something that would indicate the sympathy of the cosmos; a pathetic fallacy that Joyce side-steps by replacing it with a man-made “cosmic” event, but still alludes to). There are secondly the lines of force that radiate from Gerty’s person (see 949, in relation to the ball, related perhaps more generally her lunar pre-menstral pull), and the specific influence of evening that causes women to “Open like flowers” (1089). It is an uncanny “Chance”(1271) meeting over the long trajectory of “for ever”(1254), in which Bloom must grapple with the paradox of erotic return; couples in the rhododendrons and the fleeting uniqueness of one specific moment of encounter.. “It never comes the same”(1277)). It is an encounter spun up in and moving through the convergence of “different world”s (those of Mary, Erin, the Church, Ireland, and the old man and young girl of Gerty) that Martha (via her erotically-nested errata) introduced; an ecstatic potential, previously only evinced through clues in “torn space” is coming to fruition. Martha planted the masturbatory seed, as did his earlier gazing at his lotus-flower in the bath-tub. Bloom was primed with distant, removed, and apparently randomly induced fore-play of an oblique nature from ungraspable women… Indeed, a second presaging and mildly titillating incident that frames the events in Nausicaa; it is the “compressed” narrative in museum when he attempts to look “up” the skirts of the stony goddesses, to see “if they…” in Ch. 8. Bloom himself mentions this incident as one of the high points in his “Long day”: “museum with those goddesses” (1215). The scene with Gerty, where he steals a look up her skirt, is parallel (or an expanded) version of earlier inspection of the marble goddess-statues in the library. Statuesque imagery is applied to Gerty, “Greekly perfect… veined alabaster” (88-89), and moving from pagan to Christian, one can well imagine a white effigy of the blessed virgin too. In both incidents, Bloom is, from a distance, looking up the skirt of an indifferent (or quite welcoming, in the case of Gerty) goddess/woman. Even though Gerty is now a living woman of flesh (contrary to the only-imagining Martha, and the stone-women of the library), there is still the distinctive phenomenon of distance between the two “lovers” (as there is between Bloom and his wife and daughter, the central women in his profane existence). Joyce spends much narrative (tongue-in-cheek) time developing Gerty as an embodied “ideal” of Irish beauty and of young-womanhood generally, with all the allusions to her reading of fashion magazines, grace and goodness, etc. Thus, Bloom is connected directly to this ideal via eyes only, yet, paradoxically it is a highly sexualized encounter based on “look but don’t touch”: it is an “immaculate erection”.We might begin to think that Bloom truly is of the Catholic faith (despite being merely a convert): he embraces the invisible Mary perhaps more than an average Catholic. And, when he notices that she is “lame”; the universe/happenstance has engineered a perfect sacrament for him. The perfect ideal of woman (all the passages spent building up how ideal in every way Gerty is) is embodied in the host (Gerty’s and Bloom’s bodies) is brought down to the material and embodied in the imperfect (sin-infected) human flesh. Bloom’s sinning errata (which she swears to accept) is merged with her secret and hidden (like Bloom’s masturbation) physical errata. We see that they are matched and mutually attracted not unlike Bloom’s realization that he and Molly, like most husbands and wives, are quite a pair: “As God made them he matched them”(976). Both Bloom and Molly (and Gerty) are seeking ecstasy (and enlightenment?) in the orgasm of illicit sexual union. Bloom’s sexual climax, whose splendor we can only deduce from synchronized, euphemistic fireworks (and Bloom’s many “O!”‘s), marks a door through which Bloom passes beyond which he “reawakens” (see 1110: the Rip Van Winkle episode and thoughts). Blooms epiphanic “portal” allows him to rethink/rediscovers his link to Molly; two of a pair, both orgasming in their own ways. And linked still linked strongly- Bloom thinks that his watch, carried on his own person, must have stopped when Molly orgasmed with her lover.Thus Joyce leaves us with a picture of Bloom who, although wryly conscious of his aging, is still incanting the life-affirming, sex-flowers-(blooming)- food “yumyum”: “Lovers: yum yum” (1100). The bat is the joining symbolic carrier of the illicit Gerty-Bloom “union”. Just as their sacrament is a hybrid Catholic-sexual rite, the bat is a weird cross between a rodent and bird. It flies from the church bell and hovers over the “lovers”. Like Bloom “the mysterious man on the beach” the bat is a “mysterious/ weird”thing and the mediating body between the religious discipline and propriety of the church and the sexual licence (and tandem religious ecstasy) that occurs outside of the church. Inside the churchthe candles threaten the flowers “his bloom” might be destroyed. Thus, their weird yet life-affirming sexual encounter must be hidden behind a protective “no” (“Should a girl tell? No a thousand times no.” (750)), a word first heard from a child, little Master Tommy: “Nao” (70). Tommy as child and twin, is the recent “fruit” of sexual union, and the embodiment of Bloom’s theory of “twin souls” (i.e. husbands and wives) finding each other. Further, he recalls Bloom’s dead boy; all there of the young boys could be stand-ins for Bloom’s dead son, himself conceived from an unconventionally-tinged sexual union. But despite all valences of grief, loss, and sadness (somewhat assuaged by “Mary mistress of tears”: Gerty’s parting “smile that verged on tears (765)), we end with Bloom’s practical down-to-earth (lewd, man-based) commentary of sexual phenomena: “Tip. Have to let Fly” (994-995); and then, more humanely, “It never comes the same… no harm in it” (1277).
T.S. Eliot declared that Ulysses was a masterpiece because it demonstrated the futility of all prior literary styles. Indeed, the episodes of “Oxen of the Sun” and “Aeolus” could be taken as challenging primers on English style and rhetoric. This kaleidoscopic potential is seemingly reduced to a stark black-and-white vision in “Nausicaa.” As many critics have pointed out, Joyce stylizes Gerty MacDowell’s half of the narrative with a saccharine veneer which euphemizes her sexual encounter (itself a distanced and euphemized rendezvous) with Bloom. The first-time reader and seasoned critics alike are led into sneering at Gerty behind the safety of the author’s overt critique of her superficiality; only when Joyce reveals the psychological origin of her constant evasion – her lame leg, a condition which is only hinted at until Bloom notices it post-climax – are the first seeds of pity sown in the reader’s mind. The audience’s appreciation of Gerty’s “defect” grows “ten times worse” (301) in light of Bloom’s uncharacteristically cavalier and scurrilous attitude towards a fellow outsider in which he, too, is guilty of his own brand of sexual evasion. As the reader implicitly identifies Bloom’s rather heartless outlook with his own, he compensates for his initial condemnation of Gerty’s character by sentimentalizing her with a Dickensian gloss – and thus is held as culpable of evasion as the episode’s heroine and hero. Joyce’s manipulation of his audience’s expectations is never deployed through explicit moralizing but through his parallactic style (a concept distinct from the stylistic cornucopia present elsewhere in the novel), a shifting mode through which he questions the objectivity of sentiment.Euphemism, linguistic and otherwise, is the most obvious form of evasion throughout “Nausicaa.” But the root of Gerty’s flowery language runs deeper than simple women’s-magazine parody. The ambiguous tension between romanticization and shame-avoidance clouds the first half of the narrative, even before Gerty has been introduced. After Cissy Caffrey coaxes the words ” – A jink a jink a jawbo” out of the baby, Joyce continues the baby-talk alliteration: “Cissy Caffrey cuddled the wee chap” (284). Cissy later chides her two other brothers for fighting: “And you, Jacky, for shame to throw poor Tommy in the dirt sand” (285). “Shame” is the operative word here; the conservative narrative dispenses only negations and puns on prostitution: “His little man-o’-war top and unmentionables were full of sand but Cissy was a past mistress in the art of smoothing over life’s tiny troubles” (285). The cause of Tommy’s own thrice-repeated cry of “Nao,” a negation which recalls the cat’s “Mkgnao” (45) and Molly’s “Mn” (46) of “Calypso,” is incontinence, an act so shameful it must be hidden from Bloom’s view: “CissyÃ,,-whispered to Edy Boardman to take him there behind the pushcar where the gentleman couldn’t see and to mind he didn’t wet his new tan shoes” (285).Underneath the hyperbolic surface, Joyce exercises great restraint when dropping faint clues to Gerty’s lameness. When the children’s ball falls by her feet, Gerty is forced to kick it away and the narrative voice merges with hers: “Gerty drew back her foot but she wished their stupid ball hadn’t come rolling down to her and she gave a kick but she missed and Edy and Cissy laughed” (292). Gerty – or Joyce, whoever is controlling the voice here – doesn’t detail any further why “A delicate pink crept into her pretty cheek” (292) after her missed kick; the decision not to succumb to self-pity concerning her lameness is the product of a stoicism we are initially unequipped to attribute to Gerty, or is obscured by her omnipresent shame which manifests itself later in the paragraph (when induced by Bloom’s gaze): “She felt the warm flush, a danger signal always with Gerty MacDowell, surging and flaming into her cheeks” (292). Her blushing itself serves a similarly dual purpose, attracting Bloom as coquettish make-up and exteriorizing her juvenile embarrassment. Joyce prompts a dissection of his/Gerty’s heightened prose when she first acknowledges her lameness (without ever specifically defining it):Art thou real, my ideal? it was called by Louis J Walsh, Magherafelt, and after there was something about twilight, wilt thou ever? and ofttimes the beauty of poetry, so sad in its transient loveliness, had misted her eyes with silent tears for she felt that the years were slipping by for her, one by one, and but for that one shortcoming she knew she need fear no competition and that was an accident coming down Dalkey hill and she always tried to conceal it. (298)Joyce’s subtextual wordplays and rhymes are masterful in this extended sentence, one whose subject and rhythm correspond to her limping gait. “Wilt,” of course, also means “To cause to become limp” (OED, 3.2a), and plays off the sound (and a reordering of the first four letters) of the romantic “twilight.” The real versus ideal dilemma posed by Walsh receives reinforcement from the rhymes or half-rhymes throughout: real/ideal/tears/years/hill/conceal. The ideal is the sweeping language of the first half of the sentence, and the real is the awkward run-on phrasing of the remainder. As a synopsis for Gerty’s questioning of Bloom throughout the episode, her lofty and idealized self-indulgence also butts against the very real and hastily delivered admission of her “one shortcoming.” We now slightly recant our impression of Gerty and are made to group her as another of the novel’s many outsiders, a status that is difficult not to sentimentalize. The relative weight of her mysterious ailment is still too minimal compared to her superficial prose, however, to warrant our full sympathy. Nevertheless, the poetic, if hackneyed, language of “Nausicaa” does provide great relief from the previous oppressive atmosphere of “The Cyclops” and spurs an identification with Gerty away from which the reader reluctantly turns – we both detest and delight in the liberal and sensuous prose. Only later, when the familiarity of Bloom’s vulgarity becomes unbearable, does Joyce allow the reader any potential room to disavow his connection with Bloom and favor Gerty.But it is still not so easy to choose sides in “Nausicaa.” The recognition of his recent cuckolding impedes Bloom’s merriment in both his masturbatory and literary conquests and redeems him for the reader. However crass he may be, his bare, critical introspection is compensatory enough for the reader, who remains aware of the undercurrent of sexual anxiety in all of Bloom’s thoughts. He wonders about the coincidence between his stopped watch and that afternoon’s tryst: “Funny my watch stopped at half past fourÃ,,-Was that just when he, she? O, he did. Into her. She did. Done” (303). The fragmented sentences are typical of Bloom’s self-censorship of unpleasant issues, but his cry of “O” inverts the euphoric and orgasmic repetition of “O” during the fireworks: “And then a rocket sprang and bang shot blind blank and O! then the Roman candle burst and it was like a sigh of O! and everyone cried O! O!” (300) Bloom similarly negates the “O,” perhaps worth noting as Elizabethan allusion to the vagina, after he notes Gerty’s lameness: “Tight boots? No. She’s lame! O!” (301) Bloom’s causes for evasion from love are many; his interrupted scrawl in the sand of “I. AM. A” (312) can, in the context of the episode, gain some significance in the Latinate root of ama-, or love. Bloom’s diminished capacity for love finds its simile in the staying power of evanescent sand: “Mr Bloom effaced the letters with his slow boot. Hopeless thing sand. Nothing grows in it. All fades. No fear of big vessels coming up here” (312). The vessel is a symbolic constant throughout Ulysses for the woman’s body, and Bloom’s evasion from bodily intimacy throughout “Nausicaa” (where even writing fails him, unlike in previous erotic “encounters”) pivots around the centrality of the masculine gaze as a detached and alienated form of intercourse.Joyce abandons his subtle description of Gerty’s leg and exaggerates the episode’s treatment of eyes and their spatially opposed purpose of assimilating external information while applying it internally, usually to self-centered use. Edy’s “shortsighted” or “squinty” eyes are brought up three times (285, 287, 295) as evidence for her jealousy, unattractiveness, and inability to project; conversely, Gerty’s beautiful eyes, given to equally beautiful projections, are praised as “a charm few could resist” (286). Even when she is seemingly left alone, Joyce makes it clear that her gaze is always reciprocated: “Gerty MacDowell who was seated near her companions, lost in thought, gazing far away into the distance was, in very truth, as fair a specimen of winsome Irish girlhood as one could wish to see” (285-286). Gerty’s receptive role as a magnified “specimen” confers on her a distorted sense of autoerotism (or in Gerty’s euphemized case, auto-emotion-ism) rooted in her eyes: “Her very soul is in her eyes and she would give worlds to be in the privacy of her own familiar chamber where, giving way to tears, she could have a good cry and relieve her pentup feelings though not too much because she knew how to cry nicely in front of a mirror” (288). Like Martha’s malapropian dislike of “that other world” (63), Gerty’s “worlds” are a nexus of the public and private; nothing about Gerty’s internal world, not even her vision, is entirely self-directed (unlike Bloom who, at times, hardly exists outside his head). This doesn’t detract from the potency of her eyes – Bloom’s self-appraisal shows his insecurity in receiving the gaze: “Saw something in me. Wonder whatÃ,,-Ought to attend to my appearance. Didn’t let her see me in profile. Still, you never know. Pretty girls and ugly men marrying” (302). “In profile” – is Bloom hiding his Jewishness? That Gerty is the cyclopean Citizen’s granddaughter – “the photograph of grandpapa Giltrap’s lovely dog Garryowen” (289) – only heightens the irony that, even with her two perfect eyes, Gerty has little depth perception. Still, at times Gerty somehow knows details of Bloom’s life without seeing them, and at other times is completely oblivious. This polarity lies at the heart of her romanticization of their encounter, as she (and Joyce) places Bloom and herself into alternating categories of opposition.Gerty’s parallactic perceptions of Bloom are remarkable, often allowing for adjustment in a single phrase. She correctly identifies Bloom through his countenance as a “foreigner,” but is unable to determine “whether he had an aquiline nose or a slightly retroussÃ,,Ã” (293). If Bloom is hiding his profile for religious reasons, Gerty is certainly confused: “Even if he was a protestant or methodist she could convert him easily if he truly loved her” (293). Later, however, she gains petty satisfaction from the fact that Edy is out of contention for Bloom’s attention because of her outsider status, social or sexual – the one supposed link, albeit tenuous, between Bloom and Gerty herself: “Ã,,-and they both knew that [Edy] was something aloof, apart, in another sphere, that she was not of them and never would be and there was somebody else too that knew it and saw it” (297). The reader cycles between astonishment at Gerty’s sixth sense and contempt for her blind insensitivity. Just as she is referred to as a “girlwoman” and then as a “womanly woman” (293), Gerty amalgamates Bloom’s role as both the somewhat effete tragic hero “in deep mourning” (293) and the aggressive Ã,,?bermensch: “Then mayhap he would embrace her gently, like a real man, crushing her soft body to him, and love her, his ownest girlie, for herself alone” (294). The dichotomy of gentleness and crushing is further stratified by the ambiguous sense of possession – the phrases “his ownest” and “for herself alone” suggest Gerty’s conflicting desire for selfish subjugation. That she shares her name with Hamlet’s appetitive mother and has “a languid queenly hauteur” seems to cast Bloom in two roles, as both the cuckolded King Hamlet and the adulterous Claudius. Our perception of him is similarly divided, with sympathy for his failing marriage but disapproval for his seduction of a young girl.Joyce toys with these oppositions in the entr’acte between Gerty’s and Bloom’s narrative halves. The narration veers towards Bloom’s mind at first: “A fair unsullied soul had called to him and, wretch that he was, how had he answered? An utter cad he had been!” (300) Though in the third person, these sentences may very well be in Bloom’s head. But the authorial voice is again fractured: “Should a girl tell? No, a thousand times no. That was their secret, only theirs” (301). Perhaps Gerty is wondering if she should reveal her secret to anyone – the girlish confirmation of “only theirs” validates this claim – but the question may also be borne from Bloom’s sudden panic that he will be discovered. The perspectival splintering is not exclusive to Gerty and Bloom. Gerty’s contention that “she felt instinctively that he was like no-one else” may be true in Bloom’s case, but her embellishment to fit her own selfish needs contrasts with Molly’s generalized view of Bloom during his proposal: “I thought as well him as another” (643-644). Molly refuses to endow Bloom with the uniqueness she knows exists, but her motivation for accepting him makes her stubbornness more palatable and honest: “yes that was why I liked him because I saw he understood or felt what a woman is” (643).Gerty’s sentimentally evasive reasons for accepting Bloom’s visual proposition are countered, as usual, by similar evasions on Bloom’s part, justifications that extend deep into taboo and both titillate and disturb the reader. Immediately after Bloom makes his obligatory comment of “Poor girl!” (301) as he does for Dignam and any other unfortunate creature, he allows his faÃ,,?ade to fall: “Glad I didn’t know it when she was on show. Hot little devil all the same. I wouldn’t mind” (301). His thoughts then run the gamut from his generalizations of women to explicit sexuality to Molly – all retreats from the fact that he just masturbated in the presence of a seventeen-year-old. Yet these are difficult passages for the reader to ignore. The graphic content that courses through the episode excites us as much as it does Bloom, and we find ways to separate ourselves from him. Joyce twice triangulates paragraphs of the sexual encounter, the temperance litany backdrop, and the children at play (292, 294) as a means of exposing evasion in its simplest terms in hopes that the reader will recognize similar escapism in himself.Ultimately, the motive behind evasion must remain somewhat unclear, at least for Bloom. When he thinks back on his decidedly evasive action from violence in Barney Kiernan’s, he reminds himself of the necessity for perspectival inclusion: “Mistake to hit back. Or? No. Ought to go home and laugh at themselves. Always want to be swilling in company. Afraid to be alone like a child of two. Suppose he hit me. Look at it other way round. Not so bad then. Perhaps not to hurt he meant. Three cheers for Israel.” (311)Bloom’s mollification of the Citizen’s undoubtedly hostile remark may spring from either cowardice or his underlying sense of humanity, depending on how one takes it. And that parallactic means of interpretation is what “Nausicaa” requires – not only for interpreting the text, but for interpreting our interpretation. We, after all, are the ultimate voyeurs in an episode of purely visual interaction. To commit our literary resources to uncovering the work alone, and not ourselves, is yet another instrument of evasion.
The “Eye,” “Aye,” and “I’s” have it.
Indeed, the ‘Cyclops’ episode is recognizable at a glance. Following The ‘Sirens’ melodic fugue, the twelfth chapter sees a swift change, both in tone and form. The narrative shifts to a mysteriously verbose I-narrator, and relates Leopold Bloom’s encounter with the confrontational Citizen. This comes about halfway through James Joyce’s “Flaneur Epic,” and he writes one of the most recognizable parallel to its’ Homeric counterpart. When Odysseus lands on the island of cyclops, he and his men are trapped in a cave by Polyphemus. The ‘Cyclops’ cannibalizes a couple of men each day. In order to outwit the giant, the hero gets Polyphemus drunks, and tells him his name is “No Man,” before plunging a stake into his eye. This causes the monster to cry incoherently, blaming “No Man,” which is met with derision. His kin does not understand. His blindness enables Odysseus and his men to escape the cave by strapping themselves to the sheep. He then foolishly proclaims his name as he sails away, leading Polyphemus to pray for father Poseidon to curse the boasting Odysseus. Bloom and The citizen are the Joycean Odysseus and Polyphemus, and their confrontation echoes the traditional Epic. The unnamed narrator is crucial to the reading of the chapter. The “I” presence soon establishes authorial intent by narrowing the perspective to one person, one eye on the scene. The authority of the narrator slowly unravels with a deluge of parodic interjections and the multiplying characters serving as eyewitnesses. In the ‘Cyclops’ episode, the juxtaposition of eloquent prose and colloquial banter of the characters, highlight Joyce’s struggles with the Irish Nationalist rhetoric during this period of Irish Cultural Revival. The political undertones are all the more apparent with the dense citizen, continuously sprouting Nationalistic ideas. The choice of parodic tone does not merely emphasize the flaws in blind Nationalist ideology, but also serves both as an incredibly self-aware exercise in the limitations of narrative authority.
The narration in ‘Cyclops’ episode begins with the commanding voice of the anonymous I-Narrator, only to soon delve into parody as he is disrupted over thirty times by an unknown parodist. The repetition of the “Eye” homophones or the narrator’s anonymity, hinting to the ‘No Man’ identity, is enough to immediately associate this episode to the Odyssean encounter with the Cyclops Polyphemus. This parallelism is noticeable at a glance, well before the introduction of the citizen and Leopold Bloom. This cues the reading of the chapter. In essence, it insinuates a lesser relevance of the events in comparison to the stylistic prose of the episode. The story of ‘No Man’ outwitting a giant is in the subtext rather than the plot. The mocking interruptions, although varying in style, are not attributed to any one voice, and for the purposes of this study, we will accredit theses passages to a singular parodist. The reader is increasingly distanced as the central “I” voice looses its narrative authority with each new intrusion. Joyce almost immediately calls attention to the physical presence of this new anonymous narrator, and his vulnerability. The episode begins with him recounting how a “bloody sweep” almost poked his eye out with a broom. This not only makes a parallel with the mythical monster, but also foreshadows the myopic theme. For the most part, the narrator seems to follow a naturalist dialogue, although often colored with vulgar and bitter remarks. His straightforwardness is a stark contrast to the often hyperbolic parodist, which offers many perceptions, all the while never giving a truly well rounded vision of the same moment. The choice to stylistically parody narrative conventions is an interesting one, and is an essential starting point to analyze the authorial intent. The hyperbolic passages often describe the events in an epic manner, as is illustrated by the parodist first interruption, painting an exaggerated portrait of Dublin, as the narrator heads to the bar:
In Inisfail the fair there lies a land, the land of holy Michan. There rises a watchtower beheld of men afar. There sleep the mighty dead as in life they slept, warriors and princes of high renown. (12.378.31)
The description of an ancient mythical land inhabited by mighty warriors and princes is an abrupt departure from the narrator’s preceding paragraph. The language is reminiscent of that of the Irish Literary Revival movement, which romanticized Celtic culture. “Inisfail” was the name given to Ireland, by the godlike race known as the ‘Tuatha Dé Danaan’ and has appeared in 19th Century revivalist poetry. These interpolations clue the reader to the parallels with the homeric tale. Bloom’s “knockmedown cigar,” is the modern Odyssean stake, the Citizen is introduced with many references to caves, echoing the lair of Polyphemus. The following parodic invasions ridicule varying styles.Their juxtaposition with the narrator’s colloquial account of the same moment emphasize the mocking tone. In a parodic passage of medicinal jargon, Leopold Bloom’s scientific explanation is interrupted by the narrator, who describes it as “he starts with his jawbreakers about phenomenon and science and this phenomenon and the other phenomenon.”(12.394.1). The parodist follows this annoyed recount with the ceremonial “The distinguished scientist Herr Professor Luitpold Blumenduft,”(12.394.4) and proceeds to mock Bloom’s explanation through highly technical language. The eclectic uses of language is prompted by seemingly insignificant details, which introduce new perceptions, all of which disregard what has been said previously. They cause confusion, misinterpretation and contradictions in the narrative. Leopold Bloom is both an “Old lardyface” and “the distinguished phenomenologist”. He can be a viewed through antisemitic lenses as a penny-pinching jew or a mythical hero. The allusions to the source material is some of the most explicit in Joyce’s epic, however, the deluge of lengthy lexical lists interjected by the parodist, the multitude of stylistic voices and contradicting depictions of the central figure, seem to render the plot moot. The tone is that of a mock epic, yet Joyce is not mocking the homeric tale. He is using the structure of the Odyssey as a vehicle for various stylistic and thematic parody.
‘Cyclops’ subverts the instruments used by the Irish Revivalists to spread their message, by shedding light on their inherent shortcomings. The three cultural media pillars that were intended to fuel a sense of Irish nationhood were the newspapers, Celtic ballads and Theatre. In the late 18th and beginning of the 19th Century, budding nationalist groups used newspaper distribution and ballads to heighten the nation’s awareness of their own national history. While ‘Aeolus’ takes place in a newspaper office, ‘Cyclops’ is chock-full of print-culture references from articles taken out of real periodicals to the mention of the citizen’s “paraphernalia papers”. The news saturated episode continues the pattern of parodying interpolations, here mocking the biased content of the media, such as a satirized British Imperialist piece read by the citizen:
—A delegation of the chief cotton magnates of Manchester was presented yesterday to His Majesty the Alaki of Abeakuta by Gold Stick in Waiting, Lord Walkup of Walkup on Eggs, to tender to His Majesty the heartfelt thanks of British traders for the facilities afforded them in his dominions. (12. )
Similarly to the homeric plot, the content of these mimicked ‘journalistic’ articles, although meaningful and certainly humorous, are also somewhat secondary to the main argument. It is the swarm of periodicals in circulation and their consumption that is made farcical. Just as the plethora of stylistic voices contribute to this notion that there is no one objective perception of the events, the sheer volume of papers in circulation adds to the conflicting messages influencing the readers. Adding to the confusion brought on by the number of newspapers, Joyce also includes the ceremonial or performative aspect surrounding their consumption. Pubs were a well known meeting place for Irish Nationalists to share their ideas. The public reading of newspaper articles enabled the masses to hear the messages of unifying Ireland, and to reclaim their identity after a long period of British colonialism. This performance aspect is deeply ingrained din the oral tradition of ballads, which have long been the sole method of insuring history would not be forgotten. Tales of legendary races who created Ireland and the occult were usually the themes of these musical fables, and with time they developed into political ballads. The theatre truly entered the equation later in the century, and seriously cemented its role in this Revival when the Lady Gregory, W.B Yeats and Edward Martin opened the Abbey Theatre in 1904. The Irish Literary Revival had been about promoting a National consciousness, breaking with British imperialism for good, and striving for new beginnings with a free Irish State. Two recurring stereotypes of Irishmen were considered symbols to reclaim in order to disassociate with with colonial hangups. The first was the loathsome “Stage-Irishman”, depicted as a cowardly drunk, and the second was the docile passive woman. Ireland, historically attributed to this feminine image was prevalent due to its Celtic mythology, occult past and goddess symbolism. The revivalists took these images and reinvented them to suit a budding Nation in need of rediscovering its identity after centuries of colonialism. These figures transformed the coward Irishman into a young soldier or artist, ready to fight for its country, and the weak female into a powerful mother figure reminiscent of old Irish traditions, personifying Ireland as a Motherland. Cathleen Ni Houlihan, the most well-known play with patriotic themes of the Literary Revival, was written by W.B Yeats and Lady Gregory. They promoted an embodiment of Ireland, as a frail woman after having her “four green fields” usurped, and luring a young man into sacrificing his life to retrieve them for her. The citizen’s calls for action “And they will come again and with a vengeance, no cravens, the sons of Granuaile, the champions of Kathleen Ni Houlihan,”(12.428.12) reflects this internalized militant discourse. ‘Cyclops’ plays with tradition of performance, and this episode is one of the most theatrical yet. The way the parodist and citizen construct these events in Irish history and the stage figures is melodramatic. While the narrator describes the citizen’s actions as laughable, he compares them to caricature of the Queen’s Theatre, which is an interesting juxtaposition to the Abbey’s highly functional style. Yeats was notorious for hating theatrics, believing overly ornate performances to lessen the power of the script. Joyce sees the movement to be closer to British influences then they realize. The irony is laid down thick.
The Citizen, being a caricature of Irish Revivalism, serves to denounce its rhetoric and bigoted attitudes occasionally attached to it. The character is described as wearing a girdle adorned with sealstones engraved with “rude yet striking art the tribal images of many Irish heroes and heroines of antiquity,” solidifying his romanticism of ancient Ireland, a common thread in Revivalist discourse. His bombastic attitude paired with the parodist’s theatrical depiction of his character, seems to be closer to the characterizationof Alexander Pope’s mock epic “The Rape of the Lock”rather than that of Homer’s “Odyssey”. His singular minded nostalgia and xenophobia illustrate Joyce’s own reservations with the movement, criticizing an ideology which could lead to further isolate Ireland. Ulysses is itself positioned during a transitional period for Irish National identity. Set in 1904, while Ireland was still under the rule of England, and this reality of Irish colonial experience is cause for great tensions, notably with the agrarian population. The books publication in 1922 comes one year following the emergence of the Irish Free State. The citizen is a personification of militant Irish Nationalism, while Bloom takes a seemingly oppositional stance, leaning towards a more moderate solution to this question of ‘Irishness’. Historically, the English have depicted Irishmen and women as morally bankrupt and politically incapable to justify their domination of the Ireland. The reality of Irish inequality, loss of Irish culture and Irish land was not new. It stemmed from generations of English colonialism. One of the primary motivations for this movement was the Great Potato Famine in the XIX Century, in which the Gaelic speaking population dropped dramatically. The citizen makes this clear when he mentions the worst year of the famine:
They were driven out of house and home in the black 47. Their mudcabins and their shielings by the roadside were laid low by the batteringram and the Times rubbed its hands and told the whitelivered Saxons there would soon be as few Irish in Ireland as redskins in America. Even the Grand Turk sent us his piastres. But the Sassenach tried to starve the nation at home while the land was full of crops that the British hyenas bought and sold in Rio de Janeiro. (12.427.33)
Joyce draws many comparisons between Bloom and Charles Parnell, who had been an important political figure of the Irish Nationalist movement and lead the liberal Home Rule League. Parnell opposed the Fenian revolutionary politics. The citizen himself praises terrorist acts committed by the group, and loathes the tepid methods of the League, who reacted with boycotts to make their point. The citizens interestingly seeks to modernization through Irish independence. This nostalgic longing for ancient Ireland was a common thread in nationalist rhetoric. This antagonism between the brash citizen and protagonist, has often lead readers to sympathize with Bloom. Joyce’s authorial intent seems quite clear on the first read, however, there is much more implied. Bloom’s ambivalent identity is an exploration of the nuanced identity of Ireland after a long and complicated history with British Colonialism. The very idea of Irishness is clouded with ideas of National Identity that no longer exist in their primitive form. The citizen’s absolutist perception of what he defines as a Nation, completely disregards anything that does not fit into his rationale. It seems easy to sympathize with Bloom’s plight here. The antisemitism he is subjected to, by both the narrator and the citizen. He becomes the very symbol of British colonial victimization, and the Citizen, in what Joyce notices as a great irony in the Revivalist movement, becomes the very oppressor he loathes. Be that as it may, there is no unambiguous hero or villain here. Bloom, upset by the confrontation, does not act heroically. His simplistic universalism is parodied as a comparison to Christ. One of Joyce’s greatest successes in the episode, is his understanding of the Citizen, at least in the historical sense. Joyce exposes this fragility and embraces the already present pluralism in Ireland. Leopold Bloom, being this mosaic of cultures, says it best when he states “A nation is the same people living in the same place… Or also living in different places”.
When Joyce said, “I’ve put so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professor busy for centuries arguing over what I meant,” he forgot the mention the legions of students, who will never get over the headache caused by trying to wrap their head around it. The ‘Cyclops’ episode, while not being quite as convoluted as others such as ‘Circe’, nevertheless functions on a multitude of levels. Polyphemus is a one eyed monster, who’s barbarity is not tamed after being brutalized. In fact, it only amplified when he lost the narrow-sight he had. This is the underlying theme of the episode. Ireland loosing its identity is by no means an excuse to react as barbarically as their colonial oppressors. Joyce uses the narrative form to play with this idea of non-existing absolute truth. He comes to question the very nature of Literature, by turning it on its head, and in the process, revealing the machinations and artifices of the form. In order for introspection to be successful, Comedy seems to be uniquely qualified. It then seems natural for Parody to become a vehicle for Art to question itself. “No Man” or literary convention is impervious to joycean criticism, include himself.
Choi, Seokmoo. “The Aspects of Anglicization of Irish Nationalism in the ‘Cyclops’ Episode of ‘Ulysses.’” The Harp, vol. 14, 1999, pp. 21–32. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/20533397
Gula, Marianna. “’As Good as Any Bloody Play in the Queen’s Royal Theatre’: Performing the Nation in the ‘Cyclops’ Episode of ‘Ulysses.’” Irish University Review, vol. 36, no. 2, 2006, pp. 257–279. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/25517312.
Nunes, Mark. “Beyond the ‘Holy See’: Parody and Narrative Assemblage in ‘Cyclops.’” Twentieth Century Literature, vol. 45, no. 2, 1999, pp. 174–185.
O’Riordan, Manus. “A Citizen’s Defence for Bloomsday.” History Ireland, vol. 16, no. 3, 2008, pp. 10–11. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/27725786.
Spiegel, Michael. “‘The Most Precious Victim’: Joyce’s ‘Cyclops’ and the Politics of Persecution.” James Joyce Quarterly, vol. 46, no. 1, 2008, pp. 75–95. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/ 27820927.
There is a long standing tradition within literature of art within the text holding symbolic meaning. Through either referring or depicting art the author is able to convey, and often consolidate, the ideas of the artist whom they are referring to. This may be to reinforce a thematic point (such as in W. H. Auden’s ‘Musée des Beaux Arts’), to fashion parallels between texts and thus create new narrative structures (like in James Joyce’s Ulysses), or to consolidate the ideas of multiple artists of multiple genres into a single idiosyncratic text (such as in T. S. Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’). But what is most interesting through the metafictional use of art within literature is the point that it makes about the finiteness of art, its limitations to produce new and original thought. When art is referenced in literature, a process of recycling thought is assured, and an awareness that there is no such thing as original artistic thought is reconfirmed.
‘Musée des Beaux Arts’ is a poem about paintings, referencing specific works of art, a common theme running through both the poem and the paintings: the constancy of human suffering. Concerning this theme Auden writes:
“About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position”.
He goes on to explore three paintings by the Flemish painter Pieter Brueghel the Younger, and his father Pieter Brueghel the Elder. In these paintings the artists highlight moments of tragedy and cruelty, all the while the world continuing to exist and operate as if nothing out of place were happening. These paintings portray suffering as ordinary, not necessarily essential to human existence but an undeniable aspect of it. Suffering exists alongside the monotony of everyday life, which in turn views the suffering with what can best be described as ambivalence: “[suffering] takes place / While someone is else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along”. [Auden, Lines 3 – 4]
Auden does very little in this poem after those first three lines besides simply provide a synopsis of the scene in each painting; he makes no original points, no insight into the nature of suffering beyond what any individual can discern from studying the original artworks. What he does in the poem, instead, is provide a literary interpretation of the paintings, copy a visual image into a work of written, literary art. By doing so Auden indirectly highlights one of the inescapable pitfalls destined to befall the artist; it has all been done before. As Auden points out in the first three lines of the poem, the ‘Old Masters’ understood suffering perfectly, wholly, its complexities and constancy. It is impossible for Auden to articulate the nature of suffering in any way clearer than how the ‘Old Masters’ did before him, so instead he reiterates their point in a form of artistic recycling, changing the form but not the idea. Everything that has been said about suffering has already been said hundreds of times over, Auden simply shows that the ways in which suffering can be portrayed can be original. ‘Musée des Beaux Arts’ shows how originality in artistic thought can now only exist in form and not content.
One of the most overt references to a piece of art within a separate literary text is James Joyce’s novel Ulysses, its title alone being a direct reference to Homer’s epic poem, the Odyssey. Much like Auden, Joyce could be seen to have recycled theme through a change of form, to look at a text that serves as a cornerstone of the Western canon and recreate it for his own time. As Michael Palencia-Roth writes: “A myth from a modern perspective: were Ulysses reducible to a formula, which it is not, this would be it.” Once again, the ideas and stories of the past are reused and presented anew by the artists of the present. But, as Palencia-Roth writes, Ulysses is too vast and all-encompassing a text to be reducible to a formula, a single interpretation; it is simply too big to be nothing more than a rehashing of a mythic poem.
If he is not just simply reinterpreting the same thematic points as Homer, then why does Joyce refer to the Odyssey so dependently? Much like Auden did with the Brueghel paintings, Joyce puts a spin on the work of Homer through an introduction of contemporary methods, more specifically the stream of consciousness style championed by Joyce and his modernist contemporaries. Joyce fleshes out the Odyssey as a psychological drama, while simultaneously consolidating the action of the poem from ten years into the span of twenty-four hours. As an example of how Joyce fleshed out the action of Homer’s work, Odysseus’s interaction with the Phaeacians and the Princess Nausicaa is Book 5 in Homer’s text, while in Joyce’s it is Chapter 13. Joyce expands the journey of Odysseus into the experience of an ordinary man on an ordinary day, but keeping to similar themes through an intense tracking of internal thought. The Nausicaa section of Odysseus’s journey deals with themes of fidelity, love, and commitment, while Chapter 13 of Ulysses gives an ironic reproduction of these themes.
The chapter sees Leopold Bloom, Joyce’s stand-in for Odysseus, masturbating on a public beach and lusting after a young woman, despite his married status. While Odysseus’s devotion to his wife, Penelope, is undeniable and drives much of the story of the Odyssey, Joyce’s commitment is complicated, his sexuality is entirely modern:
“His hands and face were working and a tremor went over her. She leaned back far to look up where fireworks were and she caught her knee in her hands so as not to fall back looking up and there was no-one to see only him and her when she revealed all her graceful beautifully shaped legs like that, supply soft and delicately rounded, and she seemed to hear the panting of his heart, his horse breathing, because she knew about the passion of men like that, hotblooded”. [Joyce, pp. 355]
There is no commitment between Bloom and the girl who he lusts and masturbates over, Gerty MacDowell, it is rather pure passion and sex. Though passion and sex are not exactly core themes to the Odyssey, Joyce presents them as ironic twists on the original thematic focal points of Homer’s text. Joyce subverts the overt thematic points to make a comment on love and commitment, Bloom’s love and commitment to his wife, Molly, existing much in the same way that it does between Odysseus and Penelope, but is merely complication by the issues and realities of Twentieth Century life. Much like in ‘Musée des Beaux Arts’, the theme and artistic thoughts between the modern work (Joyce) and the referenced work (Homer) are the same, but it is the presentation of that thought that differs, that is renewed.
One of Joyce’s equally important contemporaries was the poet T. S. Eliot, whose poem ‘The Waste Land’ is now considered as a text essential to the Western literary canon. Much like in ‘Musée des Beaux Arts’ and Ulysses, ‘The Wasteland’ incorporates thematic ideas that have existed in literature and art at large for centuries, but presents them in a wholly original form. The variety of influences, of borrowed ideas and duplicated thoughts, creates an idiosyncratic poem with an eccentric structure and style, or as Jacob Korg notes: “Many of its peculiarities have been attributed to the various influences operating upon Eliot”. Perhaps in ‘The Waste Lnd’ the artistic references are more diverse and eclectic than in the previously mentioned texts, Eliot referring to opera, poetry, paintings, and drama to name but a few mediums, all references feeding into the thematic arc that runs through the poem concerning loneliness and alienation.
Eliot references the composer Richard Wagner’s opera Tristun und Isolde, for instance: “Frisch weht der Wind / Der Heimat zu / Mein Irisch Kind / Wo weilest du?” This translates to “Fresh blows the wind to the homeland – my Irish child, where do you tarry?” and is part of a lament a sailor gives to a girl he has left. The sense of abandonment reiterates the loneliness that runs through the poem at large, the words of Wagner’s opera echoing the isolation that seeps from Eliot’s desolate language:
“Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water.” [Eliot, Lines 20 – 24]
The loneliness that stems from the desolate imagery is itself reiterated by references to other works that thematically bring attention to the solitude of man in extreme environments. Eliot references Dante Alighieri’s poem Inferno [Eliot, Lines 62 – 63], as well as John Milton’s Paradise Lost [Eliot, Line 98]. Loneliness, desolation, isolation; these are themes that are integral to a thorough understanding of ‘The Waste Land’, but Eliot does not make points about these themes that have never been made before. Wagner touched on loneliness in his opera through the guise of the sailors lost love, Dante produced intense desolation by portraying an expansive and unwavering vision of hell, while Milton’s Lucifer is often seen as epitomizing loneliness and isolation. Eliot, much like Auden and Joyce, places importance on reenergizing theme, modernizing it by introducing it to new styles, structures, and forms.
By referencing art, writers often inadvertently bring attention to the finiteness of artistic thought; or, if that is too extreme, then at the very least the difficulty in coming up with a totally original thematic idea. All three writers, Auden, Joyce, and Eliot, attempt to combat this difficulty through different approaches; Auden through depicting painting through language; Joyce through providing an ironically mythic twist on a literary classic; and Eliot through using a plethora of references to a create a poem whose theme is based in multiple resources. The fact that these writers recycle thematic ideas is not a criticism however, but rather it is their innovation through style, structure, and form that is worth commendation. The limitations that stem from the difficulties of original thought pushed these writers to innovate, to try new and difficult methods. The fact that they are able to present ideas that are centuries old (millennia in the case of Joyce) in a new and refreshing way showcases their skill and talent, and makes them worthy of praise. Their innovative techniques highlight the fact that in literature it is often the case that it is not what you say that matters, but rather how you say it.
 W. H. Auden, ‘Musée des Beaux Arts’, in The Broadview Anthology of British Literature Volume Six; the Twentieth Century and Beyond, ed. By Don LePan, (Ontario; Broadview Press, 2006), Lines 1 – 4
 Michael Palencia-Roth, Myth and the Modern Novel, (New York; Garland Publishing Inc, 1987), pp. 189.
 James Joyce, “Ulysses”, in The Broadview Anthology of British Literature Volume Six; the Twentieth Century and Beyond, ed. By Don LePan, (Ontario; Broadview Press, 2006), pp. 343
 Jacob Korg, ‘Modern Art Techniques in The Wasteland’, in A Collection of Critical Essays on “The Waste Land”, ed. ByJay Martin, (New Jersey; Prentice-Hall Inc, 1968), pp. 87
 T. S. Eliot, ‘The Waste Land’,in The Broadview Anthology of British Literature Volume Six; the Twentieth Century and Beyond, ed. By Don LePan, (Ontario; Broadview Press, 2006), pp. 452
In the early twentieth century, many writers began to give a more complex, nuanced, and realistic portrayal of the issues that surround gender. Virginia Woolf, often heralded as one of the most important voices in feminist literature, wrote about this concept in a way that, considering this was during her time a recently “new” issue, is startlingly astute and, to use a modern term, queer. James Joyce, in a similar way, tackled this concept in a way that was bold and dynamic, presenting gender as a complex internalised issue, a concept that defines our identities. Both Woolf and Joyce, in their respective texts, present gender in a highly realistic way that delves deep into this concept.
In “Mrs. Dalloway in Bond Street” Woolf provides a female character that presents both the internalisation of gender, as well as the inherent gendering of language. The story’s opening sentence presents this gendering of language: “Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the gloves herself.” Clarissa Dalloway is initially introduced by her formal title, Mrs., clarifying that she is married, and therefore defining her character as a wife. By clarifying her marital status, Woolf projects onto the character of Clarissa all of the reader’s assumptions of the married woman as a role in the early twentieth century; doting, subservient, restrained in a multitude of socio-economic and cultural ways. Furthermore, to follow this clarification with “said she would buy the gloves herself” presents further gendered assumptions. The fact that Clarissa has decided to buy the gloves herself implies that she could have had somebody else, a servant most likely, do it for, therefore presenting her as upper-middle to upper class, an assumption that is solidified when we learn she lives in Westminster and is the husband of a Member of Parliament. The action of buying gloves is inherently feminine, focussing on fashion, a trivial thing, and thus presents both a solidification of her gendered role as well as reaffirming her class status as she is able to spend money on such a triviality. Thus, through reading closely the first sentence of the story, we can determine that Clarissa Dalloway is married and comes from a well off background, showing how Woolf exploits the inherent gendering of language to allow insight into her characters.
The internalisation of gender is presented through Woolf’s use of stream of consciousness, a style that she and Joyce notably utilised to its maximum potential. The internalisation of gender within Clarissa’s consciousness is highlighted in a passage that follows Clarissa learning that her friend, Milly Whitbread, has been to the doctors: “Of course, she thought, walking on, Milly is about my age – fifty – fifty-two. So it is probably that, Hugh’s manner had said so, said it perfectly”. [Woolf, pp. 223] The “that” which has sent Milly to the doctors is implied to be menopause due to Milly’s age. The internalised gendering of Clarissa is shown through her inability to, even within her own interior monologue, say the word menopause, but rather only imply it and Woolf making the reader fill in the gaps. It is implied that menopause is too risqué or impolite a subject to mention, too physical and private, and the fact that Clarissa cannot even bring herself to say the word internally highlights how conditioned she has been into the polite role of a middle to upper-class woman. Gender, Woolf therefore implies, is more than outward appearance of an individual, as well as their actions and what they are permitted to do under the law. Rather, it is something that is internalised, reaching deep into our sense of self and our identity and even censoring our thoughts and shaping our language. Through utilising a revolutionary writing technique, stream of consciousness, Woolf is able to able to present gender in a realistic manner, and therefore highlight the issues of gender that have previously gone ignored.
Joyce, through the use of stream of consciousness, shows a similar internalisation of gender and gender roles. In the “Nausicaa” episode of his magnum opus Ulysses, Joyce depicts an interaction on a public beach between the protagonist of his novel, Leopold Bloom, and a young woman, Gerty McDowell. The internalisation of gender is primarily presented through Gerty’s stream of consciousness, not just through its content but also its tone and overall style. As he does in much of the rest of the novel, Joyce uses an eclectic array of styles, and in this section he mimics the style of the romance novels that Gerty confesses to adore. The story opens on a scene that, in comparison to the rest of the novel, is highly sentimental and romanticised:
“The summer evening had begun to fold the world in its mysterious embrace. Far away in the west the sun was setting and the last glow of all too fleeting day lingered lovingly on sea and strand, on the proud promontory of dear old Howth guarding as ever the waters of the bay”.
This incredibly picturesque description is out of sorts of the novel, especially considering its general coherence in comparison to the often chaotic and distorted descriptions of the novel’s settings. This overly romanticised style goes further than simply describing the landscape, and goes on to influence Gerty’s stream of consciousness. Gerty is presented, either through the narrator or by herself, in an overly exaggerated manner:
“She was pronounced beautiful by all her knew her … Her figure was slight and graceful, even inkling to fragility … The waxen pallor of her face was almost spiritual in its ivorylike purity though her rosebud mouth was a genuine Cupid’s bow, Greekly perfect.”
Gerty’s appearance is exaggerated by Joyce’s ironic use of a romantic style, presenting her as a perfect Irish beauty, highlighting how, through an obsession with romantic novels, she has internalised the stereotypes of gender to such a degree that it has altered her own perception of herself, conditioning her to act as a tragic romantic heroine: “ Her very soul is in her eyes and she would give worlds to be in the privacy of her own familiar chamber where, giving way to tears, she could have a good cry and relieve her pentup feelings.” [Joyce, pp. 347] Gender is shown, once again, to effect both the individual’s language and consciousness, Gerty having been linguistically effected by literature written to appeal to young women to such an extent that it presents her as a one dimensional character, void of substance beyond an interest in her own looks and her melodramatic love interests.
But the works of Woolf and Joyce do more than just show how, internally and through language, gender effects the individual, they go further and tackle the issues in a manner that can be considered well ahead of their time. In her novel Orlando, Woolf describes the life of the titular character, Orlando, whose life spans many centuries and whose body changes between the male and female sexes. In Orlando, Woolf writes:
There is much to support the view that is clothes that wear us and not we them; we may make them take the mould of arm or breast, but they mould our hearts, our brains, our tongues to their liking… If we are to compare the picture of Orlando as a man with that of Orlando as a woman we shall see that though both are undoubtedly one and the same person, there are certain changes.”
Woolf thus asserts that clothing changes how we carry ourselves and how we act, especially considering how women’s and men’s clothes make a clear distinction between women and men. Woolf asserts, on one level therefore, that it is Orlando wearing a dress that makes her a woman, and it is Orlando wearing a suit that makes him a man. This links to the idea of gender performativity, a concept originating from the critic Judith Butler and a cornerstone of queer theory. Butler writes that “Gender is the repeated stylization of the body, a set of repeated acts within a highly rigid regulatory frame that congeal over time to produce the appearance of substance, of a natural sort of being.” Butler asserts that gender exists through the actions of the individual, or to be more specific in the repeated actions of the individual that create and recreate gender in an endless cycle. Wearing a dress is a gendered act that asserts the individual as female, and thus it could be argued, like Woolf writes, that a dress could wear us, “moulding our hearts”. Although Orlando was published roughly sixty years before queer theory would first begin to immerge as a field of academic study, it is clear to see that Woolf understood aspects of gender that are difficult to conceive and conceptualise, writing about them in a way that realistically portrays the complexities of gender.
This idea of performativity can be applied to both Ulysses and “Mrs. Dalloway in Bond Street” to demonstrate the complexities of gender, however neither text precisely presents the concept as directly as Orlando. The first line of Woolf’s short story presents performativity through the action of buying gloves, an action that is implied to be feminine, while the self-censoring of Clarissa concerning Milly’s menopause is also a performative act. Gerty’s performativity, though not stated as such, is a lot more apparent through the insights into her character that Joyce allows us, namely her obsession with her appearance:
“Getty was dressed simply but with instinctive taste of a votary of Dame Fashion … A neat blouse of electric blue, selftinted by dolly dyes (because it was expected in the Lady’s Pictorial that electric blue would be worn). [Joyce, pp.346]
Gerty’s obsession and pedantic fixation when it comes to appearance, especially the specific details of fashion magazines, is performative, solidifying her gender. It is Gerty’s admiration of fashion, her taking tips from fashion magazines, her love of romance novels marketed towards women, that makes her a woman.
The mix of internalised gender roles and the outward awareness of what would later be called gender performativity present, in both the works of Woolf and Joyce, a complex representation of gender and the issues that surround it. Both writers show that gender is not contained inwardly or outwardly, but rather encompass the entire being of an individual. It effects how you utilise language, it defines your status, your perception of the world, all through acts of internalised gendering and outward performativity. Joyce and Woolf present gender as a concept that is not merely defines what the individual is able to do in the external world, but also how they work internally, how they act and carry themselves. Gender, both writers seem to argue, is intrinsically linked to identity, indistinct from our very innermost sense of self; gender creates us, defines us, and determines how we interpret and act within the world around us.