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Ulysses Essay: Sexuality and Linguistic Versatility

Sexuality and Linguistic Versatility in Ulysses

In order to discuss the relations between sexuality and linguistic versatility I have chosen the two female characters, Molly and Gerty. The major reason for this is because the female voice in Ulysses is heard at length on only two occasions but I would argue is very important. So important in fact, that Joyce chooses to conclude the novel with Molly’s monologue. I hope to convey some of the contrasts and similarities in these differing monologues (despite the fact that in Gerty’s case it is technically not ever her monologue). In addition, I have tried to take into account that one is perceiving relations between female sexuality and linguistic versatility through the eyes of a man.

Molly’s monologue is in the form of a soliloquy as opposed other forms of internal monologue. Molly’s monologue in common with Gerty’s is frequently rambling. Inevitably, it leads one to suppose that neither Molly nor Gerty has had much formal education. But the style of Molly’s monologue is that of colloquial speech. There is also an absence of punctuation in Molly’s monologue, which has the affect of speeding up ones reading tempo. Because of this, one feels that the language is explorative and exclamatory.

About one quarter of all “becauses” in Ulysses are found in the episode ‘Penelope’ which consists entirely of Molly’s monologue. In both Molly’s and Gerty’s monologue the over use of “because” gives a superficial logic to their train of thought:

“Like that one denying it up to my face and singing about the place in the WC too because she knew she was too well off yes because he couldn’t possibly do without it that long.”

Significantly well over another quarter of “becauses” are found in the first part of Nausicaa which concerns Gerty:

“..but this was altogether different from a thing like that because there was all the difference because she could almost feel him draw her face to his and the first quick hot touch of his handsome lips.”

I think the over use of “and” give a flow to both their monologues. The ebb and flow of thoughts strongly relates to the movement and flow of the sea, which seems to have a great prominence in both these episodes.

I think the language is relating to us a difference between men and women, namely that women are less rational than men are.

New Beginnings in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf

New Beginnings in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf

Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf is a disturbing and powerful work. Ironically, it is disturbing and powerful for many of the same reasons. As the audience watches George and Martha tear savagely at each other with the knives of hurled words, sharpened on pain and aimed to draw blood, the way in which these two relentlessly go at each other is awful to see, yet strangely familiar. Like wounded animals, they strike out at those closest to them, and reminds one of scenes witnessed as a child between screaming parents from a cracked door when one is supposed to be in bed.

In this age of psychoanalytic jargon, George and Martha are the quintessentially dysfunctional couple. Yet, with all their problems, Albee reveals that there is a positive core of feeling that unites these two troubled people and that helps them look beyond their self-created hell. The truth of their relationship is exposed layer by layer as the play progresses, like the peeling of an onion, and though the pattern of this truth appears vague at first, with each cycle of revelation, the pattern becomes more distinct, and the picture is fully revealed in the final, cathartic scene. One of the most consistent themes of the play is the question of George and Martha’s “child,” and all that this child, and children in general, symbolizes for them. The “child” seems not only a desire for fecundity within their relationship, but also a projection through which they express many of their personal desires, needs, and problems, and, in this context, the child’s subsequent “death” signifies a milestone in their understanding of their marriage and of themselves. By the end of play, after much suffering and flagellation, George and Martha appear ready to deal with their lives in a new way.

George and Martha have a history. They are also emotionally trapped by this history, especially that of their respective childhoods. As a consequence, both are plagued by low self-image and self-doubt. The audience learns of this history slowly, in bits and pieces. Martha tells Nick and Honey in Act 1 how she lost her mother early and grew up very close to her father. She was married briefly, but her father had the marriage annulled. She returned to live with her father after college, and met and fell in love with George.

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