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“Still, it was a kind of language between us”: Desire, Identity and Ethics in ‘Nausicaa’

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dc.contributor.advisor Sherman, Debora Cohen-Carroll, Natasha 2013-09-04T16:18:55Z 2013-09-04T16:18:55Z 2013
dc.description.abstract This thesis examines the ways in which desire is constructed in the Nausicaa chapter of James Joyce’s Ulysses, paying specific attention to how the characters’ past trauma or vulnerabilities inform these desires. Through their exchange, Gerty is able to control Bloom’s lust and be desired free from the shadow of her physical disability, while Bloom is offered the chance to reaffirm his manhood, an especially delicate matter due to the end of his sexual life with Molly. The experience in a sense mends these traumas, as it places them both sexual beings in the world, engaged in a reciprocal exchange. The episode testifies to a form of mutuality and communication, and, above all, to the acknowledgement that there was a “kind of language between us.” The encounter is furthermore characterized by Gerty’s attention to Bloom and by the fulfilling nature of their exchange, and can be seen as a moment of responsibility towards the other. While the exchange is undoubtedly imperfect, we might consider viewing it in terms of Levinas’s conception of alterity and responsibility. Using Levinas’s works, the thesis examines the ethical nature of their exchange: Bloom’s and Gerty’s alterity is preserved throughout, and is in fact the basis for their self-actualization. Through being recognized and acknowledged by the “Other”, both Bloom and Gerty leave their encounter with a more fluid and nuanced vision of their own identities. Indeed, Bloom and Gerty take an active role in shaping their identities and formulating their desires. Beyond the expression of their sexual desire, their encounter provides an open space of self-realization and mutual understanding, in which they can work through these traumas, and suture tears in their identities.
dc.description.sponsorship Haverford College. Department of English
dc.language.iso eng
dc.subject.lcsh Desire in literature
dc.subject.lcsh Identity (Philosophical concept) in literature
dc.subject.lcsh Ethics in literature
dc.subject.lcsh Joyce, James, 1882-1941. Ulysses
dc.subject.lcsh Bloom, Leopold (Fictitious character)
dc.title “Still, it was a kind of language between us”: Desire, Identity and Ethics in ‘Nausicaa’
dc.type Thesis
dc.rights.access Open Access

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