Saturday, 20 November 2010
James Joyce: Ulysses
James Joyce was born February 1882 in Dublin. Chapter 15 of his book Ulysses is one characters stream of consciousness, repressed fears and wish fulfillment as he spends one night in a brothel.
Bloom hallucinates continually about sex and fantasies as his sub-conscious gets the better of him.
The whole chapter is like one big dream in terms of the way Bloom even changes clothes according to the situations he finds himself in. He may lose himself in a fantasy for an hour but find that little to no time has passed in the real world.
Towards the beginning of the chapter, Bloom hallucinates his mother and father are with him and reprimanding him on the state of his clothes. Although he is muddy because he almost got run over, he becomes ashamed and tells his father that it's because he has been playing with the other children. On top of this, we become aware that his outfit has changed to that of a young boy's. This feeling of fear and unworthiness in front of a father figure has echoes of Sigmund Freud's belief in the Oedipus complex. Bloom feels like a child, and this is reflected in his outwardly behavior. Throughout the chapter, Bloom is also looking to become a father figure to the other character of Stephen. This is due to the fact Bloom recently lost his real son and has the instinct to feel like a father again. Therefore their is a common theme of father and son through the chapter.
Woman in the chapter are all either prostitutes, whores, ugly, mean or crazy. The woman's attire is described like "vicelike corsets" or "restrained in net tight frocks"; language associated with traps and limited means of escape. When Bloom is visited by his grandfather (yet another dream sequence), Virag lectures on womans clothing and how it is highly deceiving. Aspects of a dress such as the rouched bits which hide the fat, and the padded bits for enhancement, so that when you strip it down, it's nothing like what you anticipated. Woman are temptresses who entice you in. "The vice of her painted eyes".
On top of that, one female character; Zoe, also appears to dabble in witchcraft. She reads Blooms palm, while a chalked circle appears on the floor. Two signs that back in the early century were sure signs of evil and witchcraft.
The woman Bloom meets within his hallucinations all treat him like dirt. They beat him either mentally or physically and he even turns into a camel when faced with his wife.
Bloom also gets visited by a nymph at one point within the brothel. A nymph that saw Bloom having sex many years ago within the forest. She (another woman who is not normal) is annoyed that Bloom had disrespected the forest in such a hideous way. She claims that he took the forests innocence. Since the trees and the animals that were witness to Blooms crime, did not consent (I'm assuming) to having their innocence removed, the implication is clear that Bloom essentially raped the forest of it's purity. However, Bloom reminds her that sex is a "natural phenomenon" and that sex and nature are linked. At the beginning of the novel two characters discuss the fact that "even the all wisest Stagyrite was bitted, bridled and mounted by a light of love". Stating that even the greats like Shakespeare turn into animals when it comes to sex. Eventually, the nymph has to agree and disappears, albeit in a worse mood than when she arrived.
The whole chapter allows the reader to see Bloom's worst fears, deep seated worries and his fantasies. He turns from a sheepish child in front of his father, to a burdened camel in front of his wife, and still yet to a power hungry and selfish ruler during another fantasy. We see every side of his personality and the argument remains whether James Joyce revealed himself through the character of Bloom, or whether the book is merely a work of fiction. But as the chapter itself states: "Sleep reveals the worst part of everyone".