Oedipal Complex in Irish Nationalism: How Ulysses
Explores Emasculated Males Oedipal Colonial Relationships to Irish Motherland.

has been defined as a women, more specifically a mother. Be it a strong Celtic
women such as Queen Mauve (Medb), an old women who needs her sons to fight for
her, or a subdued seductress who emulates of the type of women an Irishman
favored, Ulysses highlights oedipal
relationships between the emasculated men of Ireland during English Colonialism
and the overarching matriarch of the “Motherland.” Through descriptive language
choices and explicit dialog pertaining to either Irish otherness or the male
disconnect to their motherland, Joyce illuminate what it means to be Irish by
illuminating Irish Nationalism and the need of motherhood in colonial Ireland
in his novel Ulysses. I will be
focusing on various chapters in Ulysses: “Telemachus” “Cyclops,” and “Circe”.
All will focus on the Irishman, his distinctive values, his ideals for Ireland,
and the direct dialog that he speaks of his motherland. Then comparing those
images to the emasculation of Irishman and the language describing the values
of Irish nationality.  This hegemonic
Irish masculinity and the language surrounding it is due to colonial
emasculation men is only a wish to become intimate with the motherland that was
lost and figure out what it means to be Irish under English Colonization. When
assessing the novel, its characters and their actions, understanding historical
context it mandatory.

Ulysses was written in a time when Ireland was under English
colonialism. Colonialism thus dictates the thinking of the men in the novel and
how they not only relate to each other, but to land and its image. With loss of
power and national identity, Irish men become fixated on preserving, protecting
and rebuilding mother Ireland. The relationship between colonialized Ireland
and Irish men highlights Irish men’s need to compensate due to national emasculation.
Joyce understands the complex and prideful Irish spirit and in Ulysses, he illustrates what it means to
be Irish in a time of National, Ireland’s image as a subdued women (and
mother), caused by colonialism creating a nationalistic oedipal complex through
his language. Through the Steven’s disconnected relationship with his mother in
Telemachus and Proteus, the heteronormative, masculine dominated chapter
“Cyclops,” and the dreamlike sub-coconscious truth and gender fluid language in
“Circe,” Joyce illuminate the various ways Ireland’s image constructs the
national identity and the general male populous relationship to it. 

The image of Mother Ireland started in the 1800s. The
1998 documentary Mother Ireland,
directed by Anne Crilly focuses on Irish history through the eyes of it women
and how a female depiction of the country shapes the ideals and relationships
to its people. The documentary introduces the image of Ireland as a women
almost immediately. From the Irish themselves, this feminine, mostly motherly,
image take symbolizes various meanings. Some mark her freeness, while other’s
remark her as a catholic, repressive figure. When interviewed Irish civil
rights leader and formal politician, Bernadette Mcaliskey states that the image
of Ireland was a very strong image. “Not essentially always political image
just the relationship as an individual with the country it has always been,
for me in the context of off the mother country and the children.” Within the
first few seconds of the video two things have become very apparent. The first
being that Ireland in the relationship with its people is a very strong
feminine image. Secondly, the feminine image is of a mother.

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This mother figure, that is so engraved in to Irish
society has multiple facets depending on the citizen in Ireland. Either
empowering or repressive, the image of Mother Ireland goes back to Celtic,
pre-Christian, pre-colonized Ireland myth where kings could not come to power
without having a symbolic marriage to the land: a marriage to the mother. With
this relationship deeply engrained into Irish history before and through the
plantation and colonization by England in the Elizabethan times, it is clear to
see a distinctive an intimate relationship forming between the Irish man and
his mother land.

image of mother Ireland is interesting when examining the Irishman’s
relationship during English colonialism. Ireland, as a women, illuminates
complex and intricate symbol. First fertility and motherhood, second a seductress
or “type of women an Irishman favored,” and lastly an image of a nation that
has been emasculated. As quoted in documentary, the Mother Ireland figure is
interesting based on the fact that, “”if you look at aggressive countries and
imperialist countries they tend to be neo-colonial…the German fatherland and
America is a fatherland. People who have a long history of oppression tend to think
of their community and country as the motherland.” Based off of this, Ireland
is a Motherland not only by choice and tradition, but because of colonialism
and oppression. It puts her in a state of objection. As a female, Ireland, and
the language used to describe Mother Ireland was descriptive, detailed, yet
also slightly contradicting. Many believed to be a fertility symbol who has
been grossly exaggerated, while others believe she is a nurture and a protector
which removes the idea that she is of any threat. Yet, there is something
cynical and sad about having Ireland be a mother:

 “I actually think it’s the wrong thing to do
to call a country after a woman because it gets into those kind of areas where
a country is to be won or penetrated or plowed or like men are going in there
and being pioneers and there’s this weird psychological thing that happens
where the country is a women and you talk about the rape of a country and the
rape of a women…”

                 The language in this quote highlights very
phallic imagery often found through colonization. Connecting a female image to
a country and place it under colonial context creates a national dynamic.
Ireland, and it feminine representation, falls under a colonial psychology due
to being colonialized. An image meant to represent comfort and Celtic tradition
turns into a submissive and penetrated image. Due the emasculation of the
country, Ireland then takes on an otherness and seek nationalism and
authenticity, “or the invention of an authentic self” (30 Change) to push back
from the English, regain their national masculinity, and to find true cultural

Emphases Ireland as a women throughout the novel, but most notably in “Telemachus”
with Stephan’s commentary of the sea and of his dead mother. Stephan overlooks the
Dublin bay as Mulligan remarks, “Thalatta! Thalatta! She is our great sweet
mother. Come and look!” (Joyce 1.80).  Translating
“Thalatta,” to mean the Sea, Mulligan and Irishman relates the waters around Ireland
to be feminine and “a mighty mother” (1.85). With Englishman Haines
preoccupied, Joyce makes apparent the relationship that the mother-son
relationship have with the land is distinctly Irish. Using the words “mighty”
shows emphasis on the idea of nature as a mother to be over powering. As author
Szczeszak-Brewer states in Joyce’s Vagina
Dentata: Irish Nationalism and the Colonial Dilemma of Manhood “Ireland in
Joyce’s fiction are centered around female figures: mother Sea, Mother Church,
the hald-naked women beckoning to the unsuspecting passerby, the unfaithful
wife, the veracious sow, and so on.” (Szczeszak-Brewer 14). The correlation to Mother
Nature, and more specifically Mother Ireland, is paralleled

When talking about Nationalism in Ireland and the
relationships men had with their native country, one must understand Ireland
and her nationalistic mentality entirety. The chapter “Inventing Irishness:
Authenticity and Identity,” in the book The
anxiety over Culture and Identity Author Vincent Cheng explores the
definition of Irishness in Joyce based cultural context and the idea that the
Irish nationalist movement stems from the anxiety of lost “subjectivity and
self-representation, and in order to prove that the Irish are indeed very
particular people distinct and different from all other peoples, it is an
almost irresistible urge to define oneself (one’s national identity)” (Cheng
30). This crave of national authentic identity, or “Celtic otherness” (Cheng
37) creates an exclusivity that the Irish use to push back from the English. In
searching for authenticity some cultures, such as the Jewish community were, as
Cheng states “Un-Irish.”

un-Irishness is emulated by Joyce in Ulysses
chapter titled “Cyclops.” Leopold Bloom, one of the protagonist in the novel is
Jewish and sits in a bar full of Drunk Irishmen. Bloom, an outsider, shows the
homosocial relationships of Irishmen and their actions acting with the various
men in the bar emulates Irish nationalism through homosociality. Homosociality,
defined by Hamid Farahmandian, in his article Ulysses: Lost Homosocial Desire in Ambiguous Identity is “the
association and bonds of same-sex people in a social environment” (470). In a
male dominated setting with an unknown, outsider narrator, the reader
experience unfiltered homosocial interactions with no biases. Through these
interactions Joyce brings to light Irish stereotypes and tropes of
hyper-masculinity. One character who emulates this “all-Irishness” is the
citizen. Described as a “boulder…deepchested…redhaired…deepvoice…sinewyarmed
hero” wearing “oxhide… and a loose kilt that was bound about his
middle…beneath this he wore trews of deerskin, roughly stitched with gut… his
girdle hung a row of seastones which jangled at every movement of his
portentous frame and on those were graven with rude yet striking art the tribal
image of many Irish heroes and heroines of antiquity….” (12. 151-175). The
citizen is a true stereotype of an Irishman. Not only is his physically a wild
looking Irishman but Joyce distinctly highlights this tribal, superstitious,
tribal man façade. Paring his ambiguous identity with his wild and tribal
exterior, Joyce isolates the characteristics and not thein order for the reader
to focus on the stereotype and language.  

Joyce writes “Cyclops” in a satiric grandeur. One of
the bigger chapters in the novel, Joyce fills “Cyclops” with long list, dense description,
and clear setting in order for fluid and unfiltered masculine homo-social relationships
to give the reader a true understanding on what it means to be Irish.  This clear use of environment mixed with the use
of parody gives reader the ability to examine the Citizen’s hyper-masculinity,
image, and authenticity through the context of play. Joyce writes the Citizen
in order for the reader to look deeper into the makings of the perfect Irish man.
 The citizen’s image and the surrounding rhetoric
highlights the ridiculousness of Irish hyper-masculinity not only as a
reflection of being “castrated” as author Szczeszak-Brewer states but as a way
to infuse what Michael Lapointe calls the “Irish Athlete.”  In his article, Lapointe defines the citizen as
a “contemporary warrior in a world of intense bonding, highlighting romantic nationalism’s
rhetorical investment in physical and moral vigor in regenerating the (male)
body of Irish nation” (Lapointe 185). The Citizen represents not only masculine
competition but also a hyper romanticized Irish nationalism thus making him the
ideals of a perfect male Irish image. This image paired with parodic language comments
on the surface level masculine homo-sociality and the image of a traditional Irishman.

After introducing the Citizen’s image and the superficiality
behind it, Joyce then lists various Irish “heroes” found on the Citizen’s belt.
The tedious and massive list is meant to represent the heroes of Ireland,
however the reader comes to find that most of the names on the list are not Irish
at all: “…the man that broke the back at Monte Carlo, the man in the gap, the
women who didn’t, Benjamin franklin, napoleon Bonaparte, John. L Sullivan…”
(12.187-188). the sea stones of “Irish tribal heroes” actually contains English
heroes, fictional characters, historical women, musicians, general nondescript
titles, among other nonsensical phrases. Joyce is making a commentary about compensation
and Irish history. To fill the “Irish” heroes with non-Irish, isolates a superficiality
aspect about the citizen and Irish culture. To look the part of an Irish man,
the Citizen must acquire an image of complete Irishness, The Citizen tries to
relate his image back to tribal, pre-colonial era, and isolates folk-lore, yet
on a closer look at the list one can see he fails to do so. Instead, The
Citizen must supplement his heroes and historical figures with English,
American, fictional and non-descript characters. Joyce does this to parody the
idea of the complete Irish image and to question how one can gain a complete
image of Ireland, and its history, if has been erased and emasculate through English

The competition and compensation that the Citizen
represents is caused by emasculation due to colonialism. The list of non-Irish
heroes paired with the over top attire of The Citizen is Joyce’s way of showing
the internal fracture and lack of inner Irish authenticity. When understanding
the Irish identity and Irish nationalism one must be aware of the inner tensions
caused by colonialism. Michael Laponte states that “Joyce understood the
contradictory position of an Irish male identity beset by English stereotypes
and fissured internally by self-betraying nationalist tendencies” (Laponte 174).
Through this, Joyce then is stating that The Citizen, though on the surface
level is a complete image of the Irish masculinity, he is using surface level stereotypes
to emulate nationalistic difference from the English. However, in doing so, it
is clear that the historical icons are missing thus these, “Irish historical
and fictional betrayals are, in some measure, a result of the tensions internal
to competencies homosocial relations and murderous rivalries between men,
commonly triangulated through women, or a feminized Ireland.”(Laponte 174). Laponte
claims that the betrayal, or lack of representation historically, is caused by
the triangulation of feminized Ireland, or Mother Ireland.

With “Cyclops” being a satire, Joyce illuminates the superficial
image of the perfect Irishman only to question what that image is in the
context of English colonialism. He shows the reader how on a superficial level,
The Citizen can represent the perfect Irishman, but in actuality, the superficial
image and rhetoric he uses illuminate a deeper fragmentation of Irish Nationalism
due to the overtaking of Mother Ireland. The Citizen’s homo-social
relationships, even the anti-semitic ones, are dictated by the internal conflictions
based on national identity or the lack of.  As Joyce represents in “Cyclops,” the lack of
historical figures due to colonialism and the emasculation, or “penetration” (Mother Ireland) of Ireland he illuminates
the surface level ideals and representation that colonialized Ireland emulates
in this time of oppression.

By making “Cyclopes,” and The Citizen so over the top Joyce
focuses on the exaggerated and satiric parts of the episode to illuminate the
representation of emasculated Ireland on a superficial level. Maintaining the
image of Ireland is presented in the episode by big and grandeur rhetoric to
illuminate national pride of the Motherland, masculine competition in homo-social
relationships and compensation due to colonial emasculation. Thus by adding scrupulous
and incorrect details, Joyce allows the reader then to find discrepancies in
the details of Irish representation showing a more systemic issue.  

when Joyce shifts over to “Circe” he illuminates the relationship between
Irishmen and Mother Ireland through the ambiguous subconscious caused by
various drunken hallucinations. Joyce uses language fluidity with language
throughout the structure of a play to isolates the subconscious affects that colonial
emasculation has and how systematic national issues such as cultural emasculation
due to the “penetration” of their country.

by writing 


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