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“Guilty Bloom: Hallucination Technique Reveals Leopold Bloom’s Unconscious in Ulysses”

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  1. Introduction
  2. Bloom hallucination about Mary Driscoll, Mrs. Yelverton Barry and Mrs. Bellingham
  3. The hallucination about the whore mistress Bella Cohen transforming into a man
  4. Joyce's schematic for the novel
  5. The hallucination technique in the Circe episode of Ulysses
  6. Conclusion
  7. Bibliography

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. [...]

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