During this semester I’ve tried to discover various trends in the use of animals in Ulysses. Some of the ideas stuck throughout the book, while some were dismissed as the novel continued. In this post I’ll try and recap what ideas I no longer feel are important, and what ones I might wish to continue exploring.
One idea that I futilely tried to push was that Joyce wished to make strong statements regarding animal rights in this novel. While I have found evidence that animal rights activism was growing in Ireland around the time the novel was written, and Joyce apparently was interested to some extent with the treatment of cattle, it seems inconsistent with the rest of the novel that Joyce would be overly concerned with pushing his own political thoughts.
I’ve also tried at various times in the novel to connect characters to one particular animal. While some characters may be associated with some animals more than others, almost none of the characters are attached to just one animal. Consequently, I feel that instead of trying to match each character with one animal, I should look at the collection of animals the character is associated with, and see if the group of animals as a whole provides any insight to the character.
One idea that I haven’t talked about much lately, but I should explore again, is the concept of blending animals with humans. This is a somewhat broad category that includes humans being described with animal features (and vice-versa), and creatures that are part animal and part human. While I’ve been struggling for a long time now trying to figure out why Joyce blends humans and animals together, I feel that it occurs far too often in Ulysses to be ignored.