Essay Penelope: In Search of the Feminist in James Joyce's Ulysses

Essay Penelope: In Search of the Feminist in James Joyce's Ulysses

Length: 4783 words (13.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Penelope: In Search of the Feminist in James Joyce


Ulysses is an oeuvre in rebellion against society’s standards of race, class, and religion, against traditional images of sexuality and gender. Its final book, “Penelope,” is a reflection of this rebellion, however its true feminist character has been an issue of contention among critics. A more grounded vision of Joyce’s feminism can be found through an understanding of the two main cultural influences that shaped him: Irish-Catholic views on the feminine and Victorian morality. Joyce rebelled against their repressive attitudes toward sexuality and social relationships as evidenced in his unconventional relationship with Nora, his reshaping of the idea of “woman,” the female artists and intellectuals that formed his inner circle, and his support of their movement.

This break from tradition is a central quality in Ulysses. Molly Bloom is not the two-dimensional caricature many have suggested. She is so much more than that. Molly rebels against her traditional domestic role, is a voice for female emancipation, an example for feminine power, and the embodiment of unified sensuality and spirituality. These untraditional qualities have led some critics to accuse Molly of being a mere projection of the male psyche, without a real voice of her own. These criticisms ignore the powerful way in which Molly challenges commonly held beliefs about female sexuality. Despite the hint of the creator’s voice in his creation, Molly is presence unto herself, Joyce’s definitive statement of women as powerful, sexual beings.



When James Joyce wrote Ulysses, it was a rebellion against everything Christian Europe held as moral and true. He questioned tr...


... middle of paper ...


...7Ellman. James Joyce., p. 41.
18Ellman. Letters., p. 61.
19Ellman, Letters., p. 165.
20Ellman, Letters., p. 169.
21Ellman. Letters., p. 181.
22Staley, p. 18.
23Ellman. Letters, p. 285.
24Brown, p. 99.
25Brown, p. 99.
26Kime Scott, Pp. 16-18.
27Ellman. Letters., p. 259.
28Kime. p. 16-18.
29Power, p. 35.
30Staley, p. 140.
31Staley, p. 103.
32(Letter from George Bernard Shaw) Ellman, Richard. James Joyce., p. 507.
33(Paul Claudel) Ellman. James Joyce. P. 530.
34Ellman, Letters. Pp. 66-67.
35Brown, p. 112.
36Staley, P. 139.
37Adams, p. 169.
38Friedman., p. 210
39Henke., p. 234.
40Ellman. Letters, p. 278.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on Theme of Motherhood in James Joyce's Ulysses

- James Joyce structured Ulysses to correspond with events in Homer's Odyssey. The relationship between two principle characters in Ulysses, Leopold Bloom as a sonless father and Stephen Dedalus as a fatherless son parallels the circumstances of Odysseus and Telemachus. This interpretation of the relationship between Bloom and Stephen, however, does not account for a significant theme of Ulysses, that of motherhood. Despite the idea that Bloom is a father looking for a son and that Stephen is a son looking for a father, the desires of both of these characters go beyond that of a father and son relationship....   [tags: Joyce Ulysses Essays]

Powerful Essays
3579 words (10.2 pages)

Literary and Character Analysis of Ulysses by James Joyce, Specifically Episode 18: Penelope

- ... Molly is far from perfect, which is precisely what makes her human. It could be said that Joyce asks that no judgement be made, for the reader has only been given a single days introduction into the life of Molly Bloom. I think a very important takeaway from "Penelope" is that a new approach should be made when considering the character of a person, specifically women. Joyce offers the notion that in order to love or even understand an individual, we must accept everything about that person, the good the bad and the ugly....   [tags: women, body, stream-of-consciousness]

Powerful Essays
1175 words (3.4 pages)

Essay on Use of Language in James Joyce's Ulysses

- Use of Language in James Joyce's Ulysses In his essay “The Decomposing Form of Joyce’s Ulysses,” Henry Staten has argued “that Ulysses achieves some of its most characteristic effects by pressing the internal logic of mimesis to the limit, above all through onomatopoeia, which manifests in a peculiarly condensed way the self-contradictory character of the realist project” (Staten 174-5). Mimetic narrative and method are undone by an onomatopoeiac mode, which is conceived by Stephen “as the pure self-expression or self-annunciation of reality” (175): “Signatures of all things I am here to read, seaspawn and seawrack, the nearing tide…” (Ulysses 3.2-3, emphasis added)....   [tags: James Joyce Ulysses Decomposition Essays]

Powerful Essays
2460 words (7 pages)

Essay on James Joyce's Ulysses

- James Joyce's Ulysses "There's five fathoms out there.... A sail veering about the blank bay waiting for a swollen bundle to bob up, roll over to the sun a puffy face, saltwhite. Here I am" (18). If "Old Father Ocean" (42) is Proteus (Gifford 46), god of "primal matter" (32) corresponding with a viridian tinge of primal soup as well as the tide that washes in the ruined flotsam and jetsam of man's voyages, it makes some kind of sense that there is no corresponding symbolic organ to this episode....   [tags: James Joyce Ulysses Poem Essays]

Free Essays
910 words (2.6 pages)

Portrayal of Women in James Joyce's Ulysses Essay

- Portrayal of Women in James Joyce's Ulysses The novel, "Ulysses", by James Joyce shows the reader hour by hour a single day in the life of one man.  But this epic which specifically deals with Leopold Bloom and has reference to Stephen Dedalus, holds so much more appendage to other areas of life.  One, is the portrayal of women in Ulysses. A common speculation is that men seem to have a more dominating status over women.  However, in Ulysses that theory dwindles due to the women who  play significant roles in the story.  Although the women in the novel all use various tactics to entice the men to succumb and cower to them, it all ends up that the men do heed to the qualifying factors....   [tags: Joyce Ulysses Essays]

Powerful Essays
1125 words (3.2 pages)

Essay about Sensory Overload in James Joyce's Ulysses

- Sensory Overload in James Joyce's Ulysses     In writing about the experience of reading Ulysses, one critic has commented that "it's rather like wearing earphones plugged into someone's brain, and monitoring an endless tape-recording of the subject's impressions, reflections, questions, memories and fantasies, as they are triggered either by physical sensations or the association of ideas" (Lodge 47). Indeed, the aural sense plays a crucial role throughout much of the novel. But in the "Wandering Rocks" section especially, one experiences a sort of sensory overload as one is presented with nineteen vignettes of one hour in the life of Dublin's denizens which, while seemingly disparate, ar...   [tags: Joyce Ulysses Essays]

Powerful Essays
1190 words (3.4 pages)

Essay on James Joyce's Ulysses - Balancing Information in Ithaca

- James Joyce's Ulysses - Balancing Information in Ithaca "I hold this book [Ulysses] to be the most important expression which the present age has found; it is a book to which we are all indebted, and from which none of us can escape. " T.S. Elliot In the midst of 'Ithaca,' the climactic second to last episode of Ulysses, James Joyce provides the necessary information for calculating how much excrement, in pounds, is produced annually by the entire population of Ireland (p. 718). The type of information offered is not, however, the most shocking quality of the narrative....   [tags: Joyce Ulysses Essays]

Powerful Essays
3235 words (9.2 pages)

Essay about The Character of Molly Bloom in James Joyce's Ulysses

- The Character of Molly Bloom in Ulysses   In James Joyce's Ulysses, the character of Molly Bloom appears significantly only twice in the entire span of the novel. She appears for the first time in the episode "Calypso," then we do not hear from her again until the very end, in her own words, in "Penelope." Yet in these two instances, Joyce paints a very affectionate, lighthearted and humorous portrait of Molly Bloom -- perhaps not a complete rendition, but a substantial one, with enough colors and lines to sketch the person adequately....   [tags: Joyce Ulysses Essays]

Powerful Essays
1883 words (5.4 pages)

The Role of Loneliness in James Joyce's Ulysses Essay

- The Role of Loneliness in James Joyce's Ulysses Have you ever had one of those days when the world seems cold and unfeeling. Where the people that surround you are far away and uncaring. Ulysses is about one of those days, and two people who are stuck within it, searching desperately for a way out. Loneliness runs like a thread through Ulysses, a novel by James Joyce. It constantly tugs at the character's minds, and drives their lives in subtle ways. Joyce drives the point home by giving a drab, grey description of the character's lives....   [tags: Joyce Ulysses Essays]

Powerful Essays
989 words (2.8 pages)

Theme of Epiphany in James Joyce's Ulysses Essay

- The Theme of Epiphany in Ulysses             James Joyce's Ulysses is a novel of epic proportions that has been proclaimed the greatest piece of literature of the twentieth century. Ulysses takes place in Dublin, Ireland on June 16, 1904. The book is full of parallels, metaphors, and experimental literary techniques. However, a dominant theme is that of epiphany. Not necessarily religious in meaning, the Joycean idea of epiphany is a sudden discovery of the essential nature or meaning of something....   [tags: Joyce Ulysses Essays]

Powerful Essays
1290 words (3.7 pages)