4th Year, English Language and Literature (European)
With what narrative strategies and to what effects does Joyce play with differing gender perspectives in Ulysses?
Joyce represents his characters from many different perspectives following the cubist method. The two-dimensional representation of Gerty, whose dialogue is an amalgam of chick-lit, is an exception. Through this, Joyce critiques the limitation of texts available for the female readership and exposes stereotypical gender perspectives as inadequate to represent human experience’s complexities. Joyce critiques the power of discursive fiction of femininity to control people’s actions through representing Gerty’s restricted behaviour.
Minor characters offer caricatures of masculinity and femininity to contrast with the protagonists, whose ambivalent gender identities Joyce emphasises, though notably falling short at representing implied lesbianism openly. Challenging critical interpretations of Molly’s discourse as unmediated, I reveal how many literary stereotypes her character invokes. The muse in ‘Penelope’ collapses traditional gender roles: Molly is inspired by and inspiration for men. Critical interpretations of Molly’s unpunctuated monologue as feminine flow ignore the similarities between husband and wife’s internal monologues.
The hackneyed patriarchal discourses Joyce parodies are analogous to England’s colonial power: thus Joyce supports Ireland’s attempts to claim its own voice.