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Lawrence, Karen / The odyssey of style in Ulysses

"Circe": the rhetoric of drama,   pp. 146-164 PDF (1.1 MB)

Page 148

cheenleading for Raoul as he will be for Boylan in "Circe." Bloom's imagination
embellishes the pornographic scene from the book. His reverie brings us to
the borderline between stream-of-consciousness and dramatized fantasy. This
particular fantasy is transformed in "Circe": the sabletrimmed wrap appears
on the shoulders of Mrs Yelverton Barry, one of the fantasized sadistic women
of "Circe" (p. 465); Molly (Marion), in her "pelt," addresses Boylan as "Raoul"
(p. 565); and the smells and sweat that Bloom pictures as the "Sweets of
Sin" abound in the sadomasochistic drama. (Even the emotional excess is adumbrated
in "Wandering Rocks," when Bloom is so carried away by the vision that he
has "trouble" mastering his breath to say that he wishes to buy the book.)
 Stephen, too, indulges in fantasies that anticipate the drama of the later
chapter. For example, he gazes through the lapidany's window: "She dances
in a foul gloom where gum burns with garlic. . . . She dances, capers, wagging
hen sowish haunches and her hips, on her gross belly flapping a ruby egg"
(p. 241). Like Bloom's fantasy, Stephen's anticipates the lurid drama of
"Circe." In the later chapter, however, these kinds of images appear with
a difference: 
the present tense that signals a fantasy in the earlier chapter appears instead
in the actual stage directions for the drama; and a descriptive phrase like
"sowish haunches" gives way to symbolic transformation. In "Circe," instead
of the "sowish haunches" in Stephen's imagination, we find Bella raising
her hoof and placing it on Bloom. Simile gives way to literal representation,
as human characters are transformed into animals. 
 By the time we get to "Circe," then, two important changes have occurred.
First, impressionism is replaced by expressionism: imaginative coloration
of the landscape is no longer tied to the private point of view of a particular
character. It is, rather, both communal and externalized. Whole landscapes
and situations symbolically express feelings and sensations: the Nighttown
setting given at the beginning 

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