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.
The article I discussed in my last post used episode eighteen extensively, so there may be some repetition in this post. For instance, the article discussed the differences between the horse-like Boylan, and the bovine-like Bloom. The article argues that horses are linked with sterility in Ulysses, while cows and bulls are fertile. In episode eighteen there’s repeated comparisons between Boylan and horses, and Molly states “he hasn’t a tremendous amount of spunk in him when I made him pull out and do it on me”, which links Boylan to sterility (pg. 611). Molly also objects to Boylan treating her like a horse, “I didn’t like his slapping me behind going away so familiarly in the hall though I laughed Im not a horse or an ass am I” (pg.610). I wonder if Molly’s objection to being treated like a horse is also linked to this idea of sterility. Specifically, it could be tied to Molly feeling guilty for not producing a healthy son. I realize that this idea is reaching, but I figure it doesn’t hurt to put it out there.
Although Molly doesn’t want to be treated like a horse, she does not object to fornicating like a dog: “better for him to put it into me from behind the way Mrs Mastiansky told me her husband made her like the dogs do it and stick out her tongue as far as ever she could” (pg. 617). Earlier, there was a clear comparison drawn between Stephen and a dog Bloom had once brought home. This combined with Molly’s sexual thoughts towards Stephen later in episode eighteen could lend this quote to being led as further revealing Molly’s desire for Stephen. However, Bloom is also often connected to dogs, and consequently this quote could be interpreted as showing Molly’s deeper desire for Bloom over Boylan. Also, in support of Bloom over Boylan, there’s the image of bulls killing horses on page 622 (I might have actually misread this section. I was having trouble figure out exactly what was going on here).
A few more interesting on tidbits:
On page 640 Molly says “when do you ever see women rolling around drunk like they do or gambling every penny they have and losing it on horses yes because a woman whatever she does she knows where to stop”. I felt like this was possibly hinting at Molly ending her affair with Boylan out of fear of losing her marriage.
Finally, there’s a lot of mention of oysters as an aphrodisiac. I don’t really know what to do with this, but I think it’s interesting that Molly seems to view sexual prowess as something that’s unnatural.
An Emendation to the Joycean Canon: The Last Hurrah for “Politics and Cattle Disease”
By: Terence Matthews
In this article Matthews makes an argument that Joyce did not write an article title “Politics and Cattle Disease” in 1912. This article was unsigned, but has often been attributed to Joyce. Honestly, Matthews argument is of little use to me; my concern with the article stems from the biographical details it gives regarding Joyce’s involvement with the politics surrounding cattle. Especially following an episode like Circe, I feel that any biographical information I can get about Joyce in relation to animals could help in making sense of his complex use of animals throughout the novel.
Matthews’ article notes that Joyce was involved in helping the President of the Irish Cattle Traders in some capacity with the issue disease in cattle. Later the article mentions that Joyce had know sympathy for cattle….I just found another article that I want to talk about as well, so I’m going to quickly tie up my thoughts on this one: this gives concrete proof that Joyce had a genuine interest in the treatment of animals. This could indicate that Joyce’s comments in Ulysses about that subject function as a way for him to get his opinion across.
Horses Versus Cattle in Ulysses
By: FRIEDHELM RATHJEN
In case you had difficulty deciphering the nature of this article from the title: Rathjen explores the relationship between bovine and equine references in Ulysses. Rathjen sees a connection between horses and history early on in the novel, and points out that Stephen views history as a “nightmare from which I am trying to awake” (2.377). Also, Rathjen thinks “nightmare” might be clever use of wordplay here (night-mare= dark horse). Rathjen also sees horses tied to sterility in the novel. This is interesting given the connection between Boylan and horses; despite Boylan’s sexual prowess, he does not produce any offspring. On the other hand, Rathjen sees bovine as connected with fertility and hospitality in Ulysses. Furthermore, Rathjen feels that Bloom is connected more to the bovine images than to the equine images. In fact, Rathjen shows that many of the times when Bloom is associated with horse, it’s a false connection (example: the misinterpretation of Throwaway).
While I believe a lot of what Rathjen argues, some of his points seem a little reaching for my taste. His arguments concerning Boylan’s association with horses, and Bloom connecting more with bovine, align with my thoughts towards the characters. However, Rathjen’s connection between cattle and hospitality is weak and confusing, and this raises questions to how Stephen fits into this equine/bovine dichotomy since the hospitality notion is used to link Stephen to the bovine.
Circe is both a blessing and a curse for the animal obsession. The abundant animal references in this section reinforce some ideas I’ve had throughout the novel, but also complicate many other ideas. One of the more exciting aspects for me about Circe was seeing how Stephen connected to animals. As I stated in class on Monday, I felt that Stephen was connected to birds more than any other animal. This continued in the second half: “[Stephen] cries, his vulture talons sharpened” (pg. 466). Interestingly, Simon Dedalus is also turned into a bird on this same page. Seeing both father and son as birds made me realize that their flying ability connects back to the story of Daedalus.
As for Bloom, I mentioned on Monday that I was starting to see a strong connection between Bloom and dogs. I certainly saw more support for this in the second half of Circe, but there are so many other animals associated with Bloom that I’m starting to veer farther away from the mindset of connecting him to just one. One new development in Bloom’s association with animals is that he seems to be connected to a lot of animals who have horns. Amy pointed out the connection between Bloom and the Minotaur in our last class, and in the second half of Circe Bloom is described as having antlers. I thought the reason for these associations might go back to the myth of Jews having horns.
Another interesting animal-human connection involves Boylan. In his brief appearance in Circe, Blazes seems to be associated with horses. Blazes arrives on the scene on the sideseats of a “gallantbuttocked mare”, he at one point “strides off on stiff cavalry legs”, Lydia describes the intercourse between Blazes and Molly as “he’s carrying her round the room doing it! Ride a cockhorse”, and his voice is described as “hoarsely” (pg.460-62). Also in this scene, Blazes pays Bloom before having sex with his wife (pg. 461). This places Bloom in the position of a pimp. This notion is especially intriguing when thinking about how Bloom was wrongfully accused of winning lots of money by betting on the horse Throwaway. (Side note: on page 462 Molly is also described as having a “hoarsely” voice. This seems like a clever way for Joyce to call Molly a whore through wordplay that I didn’t pick up on at first).
I’ll continue going over Circe tomorrow morning, and hopefully my fresh eyes will spot other fun animal developments.
Wow. So far Circe is animal obsession heaven. I’m going to have to use my free time before class tomorrow to go back and make sense of the plethora of animal references in this section, but for now I’ll share some of my initial notes:
– As I point out every class, Joyce is combining the animals and the humans. Specifically, throughout Circe the characters are described as having animal features or qualities.
– Joyce also uses a large amount of animal related wordplay in this section of Circe. My initial reaction to the inclusion of this wordplay is that Joyce was just being clever, and used the theme of animals because of how prevalent they are in this section. However, I’m sure that as I go over my annotations some more I’ll find that the animal wordplay holds more significance in some cases than Joyce simply having fun.
– In a post I did many weeks ago following a section of the novel where Bloom refuses to eat meat, I discussed how animal cruelty was somewhat of hot button topic around the time Ulysses was written. As we’ve continued with the novel, I had somewhat given up hope that my research for the post would turn out useful. Consequently, I was surprised at the mention of animal cruelty in Circe. First, there’s the scene where Bloom feeds the dog (pg. 370-71), and then later vivisection is mentioned as a possible punishment for Bloom (pg. 382).
– In Circe we get some connections between Stephen and animals, which have shown up sparingly earlier in the novel. The major connection I saw was the repeated comparison of Stephen to a bird (“The bird that can sing and won’t sing”) (g.422),
Well, that’s a start, and I will try and bring many more ideas to the class tomorrow.
Although I still struggle to figure out why Joyce is doing what he is doing with his use of animals, I continue to see the same patterns in episodes thirteen and fourteen. To begin with, the idea presented in episode twelve that the dog Garryowen is like a human gets reinforced in episode thirteen. This time Gerty references Garryowen and says that it “almost talked it was so human…” (pg. 289).
Another reoccurring theme involving animals that shows up again in episode thirteen is Bloom’s inquisitive nature towards animals. Like how Bloom took the time to try and understand why rats would eat human corpses earlier in the novel, in episode thirteen Bloom wonders about the nature of bats and birds. In regards to the bat, Bloom is curious to where it lives and what it is flying for (pg. 309). Bloom also notes that the bat reminds him of a “little man in a cloak” (pg.309). Then Bloom starts thinking about birds traveling across the ocean, which seamlessly slips into Bloom thinking about sailors before the thought is suddenly interrupted by the question: “Do fish ever get seasick?” (pg. 310). This stream of conscious where Bloom fluently moves from thoughts of animals to thoughts of humans strengthens the idea that Bloom has a limited ability to distinguish between humans and animals (an idea I’ve presented in some of my former posts). The aforementioned association between the bat and a small man further reveals Bloom’s desire to view humans and animals equally.
This joining of animals and humans is also seen in episode fourteen, but here is typically done by characters besides Bloom. One such example is Costello calling Nurse Callan a “monstrous fine bit of cowflesh” (pg. 332). Later in the episode, the group takes up a discussion on copulation between women and beasts (pg. 336).
One last note: we find out for the first time (I think) in chapter fourteen that Bloom worked in the cattle market. As far as I can tell, this just adds another twist to Blooms struggle with meat.
I’m going to use this update to consolidate my ideas about animals up to this point in the novel:
So far I do not see any significant connections between Stephen and animals. I’m interested to see if any develop as we continue through the novel, especially the possible similarities and differences to how Bloom connects with animals.
As for Bloom, repeatedly I see examples of him treating animals and humans equally. This idea is also supported by the portrayal of animals as humanlike throughout the novel. Additionally, and somewhat related, half-animal half-human species are mentioned a few times in the novel (mermaids, minotaurs).
Finally, Bloom’s inconsistent dietary choices seem too ridiculous to ignore. When we are first introduced to Bloom, he is described as a meat adorer. Later, Bloom criticized the treatment of farm animals and decided to eat a vegetarian meal. Also, in our last reading we find out that Bloom used to work in the cattle market.
Professor Simpson gave me permission to write a contextual note on Robert Emmet:
Robert Emmet was an Irish nationalist who led a rebellion against British rule in 1803. The rebellion was well planned, but was hindered by a need to suddenly move up the date of the rising due to an explosion at one of the spots where Emmet was storing arms. The explosion killed a man, and was sure to cause suspicion if the rebellion didn’t act quickly. Additionally, many of the rebels Emmet was counting on to help his rebellion ended up backing out. Soon after the rebellion started, Emmet actually tried to end it in order to stop the violence, but by that point he did not have enough control to give such an order. Seeing that the rebellion was failing, Emmet escaped and went into hiding. He was only caught when he moved to a new hiding spot that allowed him to be closer to his fiancée (Thomas Moore actually wrote two songs on the subject of Emmet’s love for his fiancée). After being caught, he was tried and convicted of high treason; Emmet was sentence to be hanged, drawn and quartered. Emmet’s speech upon being sentenced is one of the most revered speeches tied to Irish nationalism:
“I have but one request to ask at my departure from this world – it is the charity of its silence. Let no man write my epitaph. No man can write my epitaph, for as no man who knows my motives and character dares now to vindicate them, let not prejudice or ignorance asperse them. Let them rest in obscurity and peace until other times and other men can do justice to them. When my country takes her place among the nations of the earth, then shall my character be vindicated, then may my epitaph be written.”
There are three episodes that I’m aware of that refer to Robert Emmet: 6, 10 and 11. In episode 6 while Bloom is at Dignam’s funeral, he thinks about whether or not Emmet was buried in the same cemetery (Emmet’s actual burial spot is unknown). Interestingly, these thoughts concerning Emmet lead right into Bloom’s thoughts regarding rats eating corpses (94).
Then, in episode 10 Mr. Kernan thinks about Emmet’s execution: “Down there Emmet was hanged, drawn and quartered. Greasy black rope. Dogs licking the blood off the street when the lord lieutenant’s wife drove by in her noddy” (197). (Note: Kernan is incorrect in his assertion that Emmet was drawn and quartered; despite his sentence, Emmet was actually just hanged). Like in the previous reference, Emmet is once again thought of as being consumed by animals post-mortem. Also, Mr. Kernan later wonders where Emmet is buried, just like Bloom did. The line “Greasy black rope” also stands out in this passage. Bloom is later often described as greasy, and is dressed in black because he is mourning Dignam’s death. Consequently, this possible association between Bloom and Emmet’s noose might be a subtle way of showing how Bloom is not accepted as Irish.
At the end of episode 11, Bloom (referred to as “greaseabloom”) reads Emmet’s famous speech while avoiding a prostitute and while farting (238-39). As Professor Simpson mentioned during our break the other day, this action by Bloom is shockingly disrespectful given how highly regarded Robert Emmet is among the Irish. In this scene, Bloom seems to disconnect himself from an Irish identity. This is especially surprising seeing as how it leads into episode 12 where Bloom tries to defend his Irish identity.