A hallucination typically connotes a bad meaning for the character who admits to having one; either the person is mentally unstable or he experiences a hallucination from the consumption of illicit drugs. However, in James Joyce's novel Ulysses there is a different meaning to the word all together. The main character, Leopold Bloom, experiences a wide range of hallucinations in the Circe episode, but not from the intake of drugs or because he is mentally unstable. Instead, Bloom experiences hallucinations from the atmosphere of Dublin's Red Light District, named Nighttown, which is the setting for the episode. It is in this area that belief is suspended and fantasy takes over. Nighttown allows Bloom's mind to wander and delve into great detail about the masochistic hallucinations he experiences. There are numerous hallucinations that Bloom endures, but for the sake of brevity two will be discussed: the first, when Bloom stands trial for writing adulterous letters to women, and the second occurs when he is dominated by the whore mistress Bella Cohen. It is in these specific instances that reveal the unconscious character of Leopold Bloom. The stream-of-conscious technique or even a straight narrative format with character monologues would not be able to clarify as well as the technique that Joyce uses. The hallucination technique is the sole means of opening up Bloom's unconscious that reveals a man with feelings of sexual guilt.
[...] Your eyes are as vapid as the glass eyes of your stuffed fox BELLA: (Contemptuously) You're not game, in fact BLOOM: (Contemptuously) Clean your nailless middle finger first, the cold spunk of your bully is dripping from your cockscomb. Take a handful of hay and wipe yourself' (762.) As the quote demonstrates, Bloom asserts his masculinity as a direct result of the hallucination. It is important that the quote includes the intonation included in brackets. Bloom, ‘composed,' chastises Bella, showing that he is one not to be bullied. [...]
[...] With such despicable acts detailing Bloom's unconscious sexual identity, it would prove all the more logical that these hallucinations would have effect in the present time within the novel. The hallucinations do not breakdown Bloom's character, as one would expect them to, but actually reinforce his masculinity. It is as if Bloom recognizes his guilty thoughts, rejects them, and uses them as a source of power to assert his barely evident masculinity. Whatever sense of ‘man' that lay in Bloom, he uses it to its full potential in the real world. [...]
[...] Furthermore, the hallucination technique makes it all the more meaningful for the setting in which the Circe episode takes place. Nighttown is Dublin's Red Light District where female prostitutes ‘cat-call' to the men walking by an occurrence not altogether familiar in the day-to-day reality. It is a fantasy setting that allows a role-reversal. In a general sense, women are not accepting of being objectified, but in the Red Light District, any Red Light District in any town or country, objectification is expected; the men objectify the prostitutes solely as sex objects, and the women objectify the men as a walking form of currency. [...]
[...] The hallucination technique in the Circe episode of Ulysses illustrates Bloom's unconscious guilt. Bloom is not a character to be entirely honest with himself; in so far Bloom cannot even confront his wife about her affair with Blazes Boylan. Yet, the varied hallucinations Bloom experiences detail specific characteristics that, if provided in a different technique, would be masked because of his dishonest nature with himself. Stream-of- consciousness is just that; a character's conscious thought process. A hallucination springs from the very unconscious thoughts the character himself is unaware of. [...]
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