Oedipal Complex in Irish Nationalism: How UlyssesExplores Emasculated Males Oedipal Colonial Relationships to Irish Motherland.Irelandhas been defined as a women, more specifically a mother. Be it a strong Celticwomen such as Queen Mauve (Medb), an old women who needs her sons to fight forher, or a subdued seductress who emulates of the type of women an Irishmanfavored, Ulysses highlights oedipalrelationships between the emasculated men of Ireland during English Colonialismand the overarching matriarch of the “Motherland.” Through descriptive languagechoices and explicit dialog pertaining to either Irish otherness or the maledisconnect to their motherland, Joyce illuminate what it means to be Irish byilluminating Irish Nationalism and the need of motherhood in colonial Irelandin his novel Ulysses. I will befocusing 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 thoseimages to the emasculation of Irishman and the language describing the valuesof Irish nationality. This hegemonicIrish masculinity and the language surrounding it is due to colonialemasculation men is only a wish to become intimate with the motherland that waslost and figure out what it means to be Irish under English Colonization. Whenassessing the novel, its characters and their actions, understanding historicalcontext it mandatory. Ulysses was written in a time when Ireland was under Englishcolonialism. Colonialism thus dictates the thinking of the men in the novel andhow they not only relate to each other, but to land and its image. With loss ofpower and national identity, Irish men become fixated on preserving, protectingand rebuilding mother Ireland.
The relationship between colonialized Irelandand 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 tobe Irish in a time of National, Ireland’s image as a subdued women (andmother), caused by colonialism creating a nationalistic oedipal complex throughhis language. Through the Steven’s disconnected relationship with his mother inTelemachus 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 thenational identity and the general male populous relationship to it.
The image of Mother Ireland started in the 1800s. The1998 documentary Mother Ireland,directed by Anne Crilly focuses on Irish history through the eyes of it womenand how a female depiction of the country shapes the ideals and relationshipsto its people. The documentary introduces the image of Ireland as a womenalmost immediately.
From the Irish themselves, this feminine, mostly motherly,image take symbolizes various meanings. Some mark her freeness, while other’sremark her as a catholic, repressive figure. When interviewed Irish civilrights leader and formal politician, Bernadette Mcaliskey states that the imageof Ireland was a very strong image. “Not essentially always political imagejust 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 thefirst few seconds of the video two things have become very apparent.
The firstbeing that Ireland in the relationship with its people is a very strongfeminine image. Secondly, the feminine image is of a mother. This mother figure, that is so engraved in to Irishsociety has multiple facets depending on the citizen in Ireland. Eitherempowering or repressive, the image of Mother Ireland goes back to Celtic,pre-Christian, pre-colonized Ireland myth where kings could not come to powerwithout having a symbolic marriage to the land: a marriage to the mother. Withthis relationship deeply engrained into Irish history before and through theplantation and colonization by England in the Elizabethan times, it is clear tosee a distinctive an intimate relationship forming between the Irish man andhis mother land.
Theimage of mother Ireland is interesting when examining the Irishman’srelationship during English colonialism. Ireland, as a women, illuminatescomplex and intricate symbol. First fertility and motherhood, second a seductressor “type of women an Irishman favored,” and lastly an image of a nation thathas been emasculated. As quoted in documentary, the Mother Ireland figure isinteresting based on the fact that, “”if you look at aggressive countries andimperialist countries they tend to be neo-colonial…the German fatherland andAmerica is a fatherland. People who have a long history of oppression tend to thinkof their community and country as the motherland.” Based off of this, Irelandis a Motherland not only by choice and tradition, but because of colonialismand oppression. It puts her in a state of objection.
As a female, Ireland, andthe language used to describe Mother Ireland was descriptive, detailed, yetalso slightly contradicting. Many believed to be a fertility symbol who hasbeen grossly exaggerated, while others believe she is a nurture and a protectorwhich removes the idea that she is of any threat. Yet, there is somethingcynical and sad about having Ireland be a mother: “I actually think it’s the wrong thing to doto call a country after a woman because it gets into those kind of areas wherea country is to be won or penetrated or plowed or like men are going in thereand being pioneers and there’s this weird psychological thing that happenswhere the country is a women and you talk about the rape of a country and therape of a women…” The language in this quote highlights veryphallic imagery often found through colonization. Connecting a female image toa country and place it under colonial context creates a national dynamic.Ireland, and it feminine representation, falls under a colonial psychology dueto being colonialized. An image meant to represent comfort and Celtic traditionturns into a submissive and penetrated image.
Due the emasculation of thecountry, Ireland then takes on an otherness and seek nationalism andauthenticity, “or the invention of an authentic self” (30 Change) to push backfrom the English, regain their national masculinity, and to find true culturalidentity.JoyceEmphases 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 theDublin bay as Mulligan remarks, “Thalatta! Thalatta! She is our great sweetmother.
Come and look!” (Joyce 1.80). Translating”Thalatta,” to mean the Sea, Mulligan and Irishman relates the waters around Irelandto be feminine and “a mighty mother” (1.
85). With Englishman Hainespreoccupied, Joyce makes apparent the relationship that the mother-sonrelationship 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 authorSzczeszak-Brewer states in Joyce’s VaginaDentata: Irish Nationalism and the Colonial Dilemma of Manhood “Ireland inJoyce’s fiction are centered around female figures: mother Sea, Mother Church,the hald-naked women beckoning to the unsuspecting passerby, the unfaithfulwife, the veracious sow, and so on.
” (Szczeszak-Brewer 14). The correlation to MotherNature, and more specifically Mother Ireland, is paralleled When talking about Nationalism in Ireland and therelationships men had with their native country, one must understand Irelandand her nationalistic mentality entirety. The chapter “Inventing Irishness:Authenticity and Identity,” in the book Theanxiety over Culture and Identity Author Vincent Cheng explores thedefinition of Irishness in Joyce based cultural context and the idea that theIrish nationalist movement stems from the anxiety of lost “subjectivity andself-representation, and in order to prove that the Irish are indeed veryparticular people distinct and different from all other peoples, it is analmost irresistible urge to define oneself (one’s national identity)” (Cheng30). This crave of national authentic identity, or “Celtic otherness” (Cheng37) creates an exclusivity that the Irish use to push back from the English. Insearching for authenticity some cultures, such as the Jewish community were, asCheng states “Un-Irish.” Thisun-Irishness is emulated by Joyce in Ulysseschapter titled “Cyclops.” Leopold Bloom, one of the protagonist in the novel isJewish and sits in a bar full of Drunk Irishmen. Bloom, an outsider, shows thehomosocial relationships of Irishmen and their actions acting with the variousmen in the bar emulates Irish nationalism through homosociality.
Homosociality,defined by Hamid Farahmandian, in his article Ulysses: Lost Homosocial Desire in Ambiguous Identity is “theassociation and bonds of same-sex people in a social environment” (470). In amale dominated setting with an unknown, outsider narrator, the readerexperience unfiltered homosocial interactions with no biases. Through theseinteractions Joyce brings to light Irish stereotypes and tropes ofhyper-masculinity. One character who emulates this “all-Irishness” is thecitizen. Described as a “boulder…deepchested…redhaired…deepvoice…sinewyarmedhero” wearing “oxhide… and a loose kilt that was bound about hismiddle…beneath this he wore trews of deerskin, roughly stitched with gut… hisgirdle hung a row of seastones which jangled at every movement of hisportentous frame and on those were graven with rude yet striking art the tribalimage of many Irish heroes and heroines of antiquity….” (12. 151-175).
Thecitizen is a true stereotype of an Irishman. Not only is his physically a wildlooking Irishman but Joyce distinctly highlights this tribal, superstitious,tribal man façade. Paring his ambiguous identity with his wild and tribalexterior, Joyce isolates the characteristics and not thein order for the readerto focus on the stereotype and language.
Joyce writes “Cyclops” in a satiric grandeur. One ofthe 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 relationshipsto give the reader a true understanding on what it means to be Irish. This clear use of environment mixed with the useof parody gives reader the ability to examine the Citizen’s hyper-masculinity,image, and authenticity through the context of play. Joyce writes the Citizenin order for the reader to look deeper into the makings of the perfect Irish man. The citizen’s image and the surrounding rhetorichighlights the ridiculousness of Irish hyper-masculinity not only as areflection of being “castrated” as author Szczeszak-Brewer states but as a wayto infuse what Michael Lapointe calls the “Irish Athlete.” In his article, Lapointe defines the citizen asa “contemporary warrior in a world of intense bonding, highlighting romantic nationalism’srhetorical investment in physical and moral vigor in regenerating the (male)body of Irish nation” (Lapointe 185). The Citizen represents not only masculinecompetition but also a hyper romanticized Irish nationalism thus making him theideals of a perfect male Irish image. This image paired with parodic language commentson the surface level masculine homo-sociality and the image of a traditional Irishman.
After introducing the Citizen’s image and the superficialitybehind 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 Irishat all: “…the man that broke the back at Monte Carlo, the man in the gap, thewomen who didn’t, Benjamin franklin, napoleon Bonaparte, John. L Sullivan…”(12.
187-188). the sea stones of “Irish tribal heroes” actually contains Englishheroes, fictional characters, historical women, musicians, general nondescripttitles, among other nonsensical phrases. Joyce is making a commentary about compensationand Irish history. To fill the “Irish” heroes with non-Irish, isolates a superficialityaspect 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 torelate his image back to tribal, pre-colonial era, and isolates folk-lore, yeton a closer look at the list one can see he fails to do so. Instead, TheCitizen must supplement his heroes and historical figures with English,American, fictional and non-descript characters. Joyce does this to parody theidea of the complete Irish image and to question how one can gain a completeimage of Ireland, and its history, if has been erased and emasculate through EnglishColonialism.
The competition and compensation that the Citizenrepresents is caused by emasculation due to colonialism. The list of non-Irishheroes paired with the over top attire of The Citizen is Joyce’s way of showingthe internal fracture and lack of inner Irish authenticity. When understandingthe Irish identity and Irish nationalism one must be aware of the inner tensionscaused by colonialism. Michael Laponte states that “Joyce understood thecontradictory position of an Irish male identity beset by English stereotypesand fissured internally by self-betraying nationalist tendencies” (Laponte 174).Through this, Joyce then is stating that The Citizen, though on the surfacelevel is a complete image of the Irish masculinity, he is using surface level stereotypesto emulate nationalistic difference from the English.
However, in doing so, itis clear that the historical icons are missing thus these, “Irish historicaland fictional betrayals are, in some measure, a result of the tensions internalto competencies homosocial relations and murderous rivalries between men,commonly triangulated through women, or a feminized Ireland.”(Laponte 174). Laponteclaims that the betrayal, or lack of representation historically, is caused bythe triangulation of feminized Ireland, or Mother Ireland. With “Cyclops” being a satire, Joyce illuminates the superficialimage of the perfect Irishman only to question what that image is in thecontext of English colonialism. He shows the reader how on a superficial level,The Citizen can represent the perfect Irishman, but in actuality, the superficialimage and rhetoric he uses illuminate a deeper fragmentation of Irish Nationalismdue to the overtaking of Mother Ireland.
The Citizen’s homo-socialrelationships, even the anti-semitic ones, are dictated by the internal conflictionsbased on national identity or the lack of. As Joyce represents in “Cyclops,” the lack ofhistorical figures due to colonialism and the emasculation, or “penetration” (Mother Ireland) of Ireland he illuminatesthe surface level ideals and representation that colonialized Ireland emulatesin this time of oppression. By making “Cyclopes,” and The Citizen so over the top Joycefocuses on the exaggerated and satiric parts of the episode to illuminate therepresentation of emasculated Ireland on a superficial level. Maintaining theimage of Ireland is presented in the episode by big and grandeur rhetoric toilluminate national pride of the Motherland, masculine competition in homo-socialrelationships and compensation due to colonial emasculation. Thus by adding scrupulousand incorrect details, Joyce allows the reader then to find discrepancies inthe details of Irish representation showing a more systemic issue.
Thus,when Joyce shifts over to “Circe” he illuminates the relationship betweenIrishmen and Mother Ireland through the ambiguous subconscious caused byvarious drunken hallucinations. Joyce uses language fluidity with languagethroughout the structure of a play to isolates the subconscious affects that colonialemasculation has and how systematic national issues such as cultural emasculationdue to the “penetration” of their country. Firstby writing