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Conventions of ’character’ in Moll Flanders, Middlemarch and Ulysses Vanderham, Paul Michael 1984

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CONVENTIONS OF 'CHARACTER*  IN  MOLL FLANDERS, MIDDLEMARCH AND DLYSSES  By Paul M i c h a e l Vanderham B.A. The U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1980  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS  in THE  FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Department of E n g l i s h  We accept to  this  t h e s i s as conforming  the r e q u i r e d standard  P r o f e s s o r John Hulcoop  Professor P a t r i c i a  Professor E l l i o t t  THE  Merivale  Gose  UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA March 1984  ®Paul M i c h a e l Vanderham, 1984  In p r e s e n t i n g  t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of  requirements f o r an advanced degree at the  the  University  o f B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree t h a t the L i b r a r y s h a l l make it  f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r reference  and  study.  I  further  agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e copying o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may department o r by h i s or her  be granted by  the head of  representatives.  my  It is  understood t h a t copying or p u b l i c a t i o n of t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l gain  s h a l l not be allowed without my  permission.  P a u l M.  Department of  English  The U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia 1956 Main Mall Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Y3 Date  DE-6  (.3/81)  28  March  1984  Vanderham  written  ABSTRACT  Through an examination of M o l l F l a n d e r s , Middlemarch t h e s i s attempts  to demonstrate  and U l y s s e s , t h i s  the l i m i t a t i o n s i n h e r e n t i n the common  i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of n o v e l i s t i c c h a r a c t e r w i t h human c h a r a c t e r or p e r s o n a l i t y . It  i s based  relative of  on the i d e a that c h a r a c t e r i s a k i n d of language w r i t t e n and read  t o c o n v e n t i o n s o r i g i n a t i n g i n both the world of r e a l i t y  and the world  words; c h a r a c t e r n e c e s s a r i l y r e f e r s to and i s n e c e s s a r i l y informed by  c u l t u r a l c o n v e n t i o n s and b e l i e f s about man and the world on one hand, and literary  c o n v e n t i o n s of genre o r form on the o t h e r .  While e v e r y n o v e l i s t i c  c h a r a c t e r e x i s t s i n r e l a t i o n to c u l t u r a l and l i t e r a r y apparent  importance  c o n v e n t i o n s , the  of these r e s p e c t i v e c o n v e n t i o n s may v a r y c o n s i d e r a b l y  a c c o r d i n g to the a r t i s t i c i n t e n t i o n s o f an a u t h o r .  The n o v e l s chosen f o r  study here permit the d e l i n e a t i o n o f two extreme p o s s i b i l i t i e s i n t e n t i o n where t h e language  o f c h a r a c t e r i s concerned.  r o u g h l y to the d i s a p p e a r a n c e and the appearance  of a u t h o r i a l  These correspond  o f c h a r a c t e r as language.  In  between these extremes l i e s a c o n c e p t u a l l y u s e f u l p o i n t of t r a n s i t i o n which marks the emergence o f the language appearance  o f c h a r a c t e r and e x p l a i n s i t s u n e q u i v o c a l  as a r e a l i z a t i o n of n o v e l i s t i c  potential.  In M o l l F l a n d e r s , Defoe c r e a t e s the i l l u s i o n o f an autonomous person, the " c h a r a c t e r - p e r s o n , " by a p p e a l i n g to c u l t u r a l conventions o f human b e h a v i o r a c c o r d i n g to which M o l l i s c a p a b l e o f t e l l i n g her own s t o r y , of b e i n g both s u b j e c t and o b j e c t o f the language  that a c t u a l l y c r e a t e s her.  t h i s i l l u s i o n by i n c o r p o r a t i n g and undermining  elements  thus s u g g e s t i n g t h a t M o l l i s not w r i t t e n a t a l l .  He s t r e n g t h e n s  of picaresque  In Middlemarch,  fiction,  Eliot  a t t e n u a t e s the i l l u s i o n o f the c h a r a c t e r - p e r s o n and a l l o w s f o r the emergence  - iii  -  of the language of character by v i s i b l y using W i l l Ladislaw as an agent, a "character-agent," whose role as a parodic romance hero i s v i s i b l e r e l a t i v e to the l i t e r a r y realm.  E l i o t ' s sustained use of W i l l i n the upsetting of romance  conventions s h i f t s the reader's attention from the world to the word and shows the character-person to be a conventional configuration of language created through the upsetting of t r a d i t i o n a l conventions.  In Ulysses, Joyce  undermines the conventions of the character-person to reveal character as language.  Leopold Bloom begins his odyssey as a character-person, but i s soon  shown to be an agent whose role i s p a r t i a l l y determined  by Homer's Odysseus.  The s h i f t from the world of Dublin to the words of the text allows the reader to see Bloom's odyssey as a voyage through the styles of the novel and to see Bloom, ultimately, as a "character-character": an arrangement of words, of l i n g u i s t i c signs on the page, that reach their most concentrated expression when "Bloom" assumes the form of a dot of ink. The examples of Moll Flanders, Middlemarch and Ulysses suggest that a given character may disappearance  occupy any position between the extremes marked by the  and the appearance of the language of character and that any  such position i s e n t i r e l y a matter of convention.  Movement from one extreme  to the other would seem to be assured by the novel's appetite for undermining t r a d i t i o n a l l i t e r a r y conventions of any kind.  This upsetting of convention  can underplay what a character owes to l i t e r a r y conventions and make language disappear into the i l l u s i o n of the character-person.  Or, i t can highlight  what a character owes to l i t e r a r y conventions and make language appear as an object i n i t s e l f . a l l , language.  Character i t s e l f can remind us that character i s , after  - iv -  TABLE OF CONTENTS Page  Acknowledgements..  v  Introduction  1  Chapter One:  Critical  Chapter Two:  M o l l F l a n d e r s as C h a r a c t e r - P e r s o n  22  Chapter Three:  W i l l L a d i s l a w as Character-Agent  44  Chapter Four:  Bollopedom as C h a r a c t e r - C h a r a c t e r  76  Conclusion Bibliography  Introduction  5  •  108 112  - v -  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS  For whatever there i s of value i n this thesis I thank my advisor, John Hulcoop, for his generous, thought-provoking  comments on the rough  drafts and, far more importantly, for i n s p i r i n g i n me as an undergraduate a good feeling for poetry which I w i l l always cherish.  I am also grateful to  my readers, P a t r i c i a Merivale for her encouragement and her unerring c r i t i c a l eye, and E l l i o t t Gose for his helpful comments on Ulysses.  I  appreciate the help I have had from Robert Perry who proofread various stages of the thesis and weeded out more than one " s t y l i s t i c  infelicity."  I am especially grateful to E l l e n , my wife, for aiding me in my struggle with the MIA Handbook, for s i t t i n g with me on the grass outside the l i b r a r y when I couldn't bear to go inside, and for helping me keep the thesis i n perspective.  F i n a l l y , I would l i k e to thank my friends and my family for  tolerating my thinking aloud on the subject of character over the l a s t eleven months. I g r a t e f u l l y acknowledge the summer fellowship I was granted by U.B.C. to work on this thesis.  - 1 -  INTRODUCTION  I f "the i d e a of c h a r a c t e r has be  s q u a r e l y l a i d on the s h o u l d e r s  of c r i t i c s who  n o v e l i s t i c character with conceptions Foremost among these c r i t i c s ,  f a l l e n on hard  times,"  insist  on  the blame  can  identifying  of human c h a r a c t e r or p e r s o n a l i t y .  at l e a s t i n r e c e n t times, i s E. M.  whose d e s c r i p t i o n of c h a r a c t e r s as "people"  1  Forster  r a i s e s i t s troublesome head i n  o  many handbooks to L i t e r a t u r e . handbook w r i t e r s who is  F o r s t e r , of course, along w i t h  f o l l o w h i s l e a d , knows p e r f e c t l y w e l l that  the character  language, but h i s d e f i n i t i o n , by m e t a p h o r i c a l l y i d e n t i f y i n g the language  of c h a r a c t e r w i t h the i l l u s i o n i t t r a d i t i o n a l l y c r e a t e s , e f f e c t i v e l y i g n o r e s t h i s f a c t and  turns the study of an e s s e n t i a l l y l i t e r a r y phenomenon  i n t o a study of psychology  or e t h i c s .  Without denying  t h a t authors  often  do use  the language of c h a r a c t e r to c r e a t e the i l l u s i o n of p e r s o n a l i t y , the  limits  to t h i s c o n s t r i c t i v e approach to c h a r a c t e r can e a s i l y  be  demonstrated. An a n a l y s i s of c h a r a c t e r which hopes to be e q u a l l y u s e f u l when a p p l i e d to M o l l F l a n d e r s , Middlemarch and U l y s s e s must i g n o r e F o r s t e r ' s d e f i n i t i o n and of language. main bodies and  base i t s e l f As  such,  c h a r a c t e r i s both w r i t t e n and  of c o n v e n t i o n ,  the o t h e r i n the world  n e c e s s a r i l y informed  f i r m l y on the premise that c h a r a c t e r i s a k i n d  one  read r e l a t i v e  of which o r i g i n a t e s i n the world  of  to  two  reality  of words; c h a r a c t e r n e c e s s a r i l y r e f e r s to and i s  by c u l t u r a l conventions  and  b e l i e f s about man  and  the  ^ S h i r l e y Robin Letwin, " F i n i s h e d and U n f i n i s h e d S e l v e s , " r e v . of The T e s t of C h a r a c t e r : From the V i c t o r i a n N o v e l to the Modern, by Baruch Hochman, Times L i t e r a r y Supplement, 30 December, 1983, p. 1447. 2 pp.  E. M. 54-84.  F o r s t e r , Aspects  of the Novel (Middlesex:  Penguin, 1962),  - 2 -  w o r l d on one hand, and other.  literary  conventions of genre and form on  the  But, w h i l e every n o v e l i s t i c c h a r a c t e r e x i s t s i n r e l a t i o n to both  c u l t u r a l and  literary  c o n v e n t i o n s , the apparent  r e s p e c t i v e conventions may i n t e n t i o n s of an author. d e l i n e a t i o n of two language  vary c o n s i d e r a b l y depending The n o v e l s chosen  extreme p o s s i b i l i t i e s  of c h a r a c t e r i s concerned.  disappearance these two  importance  o f these  on the a r t i s t i c  f o r study here permit  the  of a u t h o r i a l i n t e n t i o n where the  These correspond  roughly to the  and the appearance of c h a r a c t e r as language.  In between  extremes l i e s a c o n c e p t u a l l y v a l u a b l e p o i n t of t r a n s i t i o n which  marks the emergence of the language  of c h a r a c t e r and which e x p l a i n s the  f i n a l u n e q u i v o c a l appearance of language  as a r e a l i z a t i o n of n o v e l i s t i c  potential. Defoe uses the language  of c h a r a c t e r i n M o l l F l a n d e r s to c r e a t e the  i l l u s i o n of an autonomous person, the " c h a r a c t e r - p e r s o n . " d i s g u i s e s M o l l ' s l i n g u i s t i c n a t u r e by f i r s t  To t h i s end,  he  a p p e a l i n g to c u l t u r a l  c o n v e n t i o n s of p l a u s i b l e human b e h a v i o r , the most important of which i s undoubtedly  her a b i l i t y to say " I , " to appear as both the s u b j e c t and  o b j e c t , the source and r e f e r e n t , of the language her.  that a c t u a l l y  the  constitutes  Next, Defoe s t r e n g t h e n s the i l l u s i o n of M o l l ' s personhood by  i n c o r p o r a t i n g and  subsequently undermining  picaresque f i c t i o n .  T h i s technique a s s e r t s M o l l ' s r e a l i t y  r e l a t i v e to the l i t e r a r y literary  c o n v e n t i o n a l elements  as a person  realm by s u g g e s t i n g that she i s not a c o n v e n t i o n a l  c o n s t r u c t , that she i s not w r i t t e n at a l l .  autonomy and  of  the transparence of the language  Moll's  apparent  of c h a r a c t e r go hand i n hand;  they both depend upon Defoe's success i n p r e t e n d i n g he does not c r e a t e and use M o l l f o r h i s a r t i s t i c purposes, but merely  describes her.  - 3 -  In Middlemarch, E l i o t attenuates the i l l u s i o n of the characterperson and allows for the emergence of the language of character by v i s i b l y using W i l l Ladislaw as her agent i n the t e l l i n g of her, not h i s , story.  W i l l ' s agency, his role as a "character-agent," appears relative  the l i t e r a r y realm.  to  It i s determined by E l i o t ' s intention to upset or  parody the conventions of romance.  Whereas Defoe's occasional upsetting of  picaresque conventions underplays what Moll owes to l i t e r a t u r e  and asks  that she be read as a real person inhabiting a real world, E l i o t ' s sustained and highly v i s i b l e upsetting of romance conventions  shifts  attention from the world to the l i t e r a r y realm and shows Ladislaw to be a l i t e r a r y character created through the upsetting of t r a d i t i o n a l  literary  conventions.  literary  I f , l i k e Defoe, E l i o t ultimately uses t r a d i t i o n a l  conventions to heighten the realism of her novel, i t i s equally true that i n doing so, unlike Defoe, she reveals the character-person as a l i n g u i s t i c "cluster of signs" which, along with n o v e l i s t i c convention.  realism, i s i t s e l f a  3  In Ulysses, Joyce exploits the convention-breaking potential of the novel to undermine the convention of the character-person and to reveal character as language.  Bloom begins his odyssey as a character-person  l i v i n g i n Dublin, but a series of Homeric allusions soon reveal him to be a character-agent whose role i s p a r t i a l l y determined of Odysseus, his l i t e r a r y progenitor.  by the words and actions  The s h i f t i n emphasis from the world  to the l i t e r a r y realm i n i t i a t e d by the Homeric p a r a l l e l i n Ulysses i s far more pronounced than that encouraged by romance convention i n Middlemarch, which i s not surprising given the d i f f e r i n g referents of the two  titles.  George E l i o t , Middlemarch (Boston: Houghton M i f f l i n Company, 1956), p. 105.  - 4  -  Joyce illustrates that such a shift is a prerequisite for the undermining of the conventional character-person and for the appearance of the language of character as a thing in itself by revealing the "I" of the characterperson to be like the "eye" of Homer's Cyclops: a point-of-view, a style, a configuration of language created through naming. More than either Moll Flanders or Will Ladislaw, Leopold Bloom makes the reader see that a character in a novel is words on a page and not, as Forster would have i t , a person.  - 5 -  CHAPTER ONE CRITICAL INTRODUCTION  Character privileged  i n the n o v e l i s f i r s t  and foremost a type  type, perhaps, but language n o n e t h e l e s s .  of l a n g u a g e — a  Thus, F.R. L e a v i s  reminds us t h a t "we t a l k of a n o v e l i s t as ' c r e a t i n g c h a r a c t e r s ' , but t h e process  o f c r e a t i n g i s one o f p u t t i n g words t o g e t h e r . "  this c r i t i c a l  perspective: "character" i s l i t e r a l l y  symbol s t a n d i n g alphabet (OED).  1  Etymology  "a g r a p h i c  supports  sign or  f o r a sound, s y l l a b l e or n o t i o n ; e.g. a l e t t e r of the  (Chinese  o r Runic c h a r a c t e r s ) ; ( c o l l e c t i v e l y ) w r i t i n g , p r i n t i n g "  I f the l i n g u i s t i c nature  o f c h a r a c t e r i s too obvious to warrant  mention, then so i s our tendency t o obscure the obvious when we d i s c u s s character.  N e i t h e r , i n f a c t , i s too o b v i o u s .  We o f t e n s t r a y from the  t r a d i t i o n a l i d e a that the language o f c h a r a c t e r i m i t a t e s , d e s c r i b e s , o r c r e a t e s the i l l u s i o n o f , persons l i k e o u r s e l v e s , i n t o the f a l l a c y of assuming that we speak o f persons when we speak of c h a r a c t e r s : "we a l l o f us, grave or l i g h t ,  get our thoughts entangled  A p a r t i a l explanation  of the ease w i t h which readers  the language of c h a r a c t e r to persons a p p a r e n t l y found i n the everyday use o f prose i t s e l f . purpose o f l i f e  i n metaphors."  can see through  b e i n g d e s c r i b e d can be  In being  "used f o r the common  . . . ," w r i t e s V i r g i n i a Woolf, "prose has taken a l l the  d i r t y work on to her own s h o u l d e r s ;  has answered l e t t e r s , p a i d  w r i t t e n a r t i c l e s , made speeches, served  bills,  the needs of businessmen,  F. R. L e a v i s , I n t r o d . , Towards Standards o f C r i t i c i s m Wishart & Co., 1933), p. 16. 2 George E l i o t , Middlemarch (Boston: p. 63.  2  (Bristol:  Houghton M i f f l i n Company, 1956),  - 6 -  shopkeepers, lawyers, s o l d i e r s , peasants." consists, no doubt, of the thankless  The " d i r t y work" of prose  s e r v i l i t y required of a language used  primarily f o r i t s a b i l i t y to describe r e a l i t y .  And to be useful i n the  marketplace, prose must remain at the service of i t s referent: a contract between one businessman wanting to s e l l ten tractors and another interested i n buying them i s impossible without a shared b e l i e f that the tractors exist (or w i l l exist) as described.  The prose of the contract, i f i t i s to  be e f f e c t i v e , must refer to r e a l i t y as i t i s mutually perceived  according  to "common sense": "tractor" must describe a real machine capable of p u l l i n g plows. The  language of n o v e l i s t i c character, however, d i f f e r s e s s e n t i a l l y  from the r e f e r e n t i a l language of the contract, because In l i t e r a t u r e , questions of fact and truth are subordinated to the primary l i t e r a r y aim of producing a structure of words for i t s own sake, and the sign-values of symbols are subordinated to their importance as a structure of interconnected motifs.  In some l i t e r a r y works, the appearance of truthfulness and f a c t u a l i t y ( p l a u s i b i l i t y of a character's action, likeness between a character and an h i s t o r i c a l personage) i s c a r e f u l l y c u l t i v a t e d , but this appearance i s i l l u s o r y : i n l i t e r a t u r e , writes Northrop Frye, "the r e a l i t y - p r i n c i p l e i s subordinate  to the pleasure-principle," though "neither factor can, of  course, ever be eliminated from any kind of writing. The  fact that a novelist i s under no obligation to t e l l the truth i s  V i r g i n i a Woolf, "The Narrow Bridge of Art," Collected Essays, V o l . II (London: The Hogarth Press, 1966), p. 223. Northrop Frye, Anatomy of C r i t i c i s m (Princeton, P.U.P., 1957), pp. 74, 75.  - 7 made e x p l i c i t i n his c a l l i n g his work a f i c t i o n : that which i s , i n some sense, not true.  In bookstores, readers find novels under signs that read  " F i c t i o n , " which suggests that we t r a d i t i o n a l l y agree, before we buy a copy, to the author's right to l i e .  This fundamental agreement between  reader and writer as to the significance of features appearing i n a l i t e r a r y work i s an example of a convention: "the accepted postulate, the contract agreed upon by the reader before he can start reading, i s the same 5  thing as a convention."  Convention—whether t r a d i t i o n a l or new,  whether  pertaining to a legal document or a n o v e l — i s the precondition for the transmission of meaning; lack of agreement between reader and writer as to what the basic features of a text mean renders communication between the two impossible  and makes the text, for a l l p r a c t i c a l purposes, meaningless.  Conventions governing the reading and writing of n o v e l i s t i c character can be divided into three categories, even though the boundaries between these categories are often far from d i s t i n c t ; s t i l l , for the purposes of analysis we may conventions.  speak of natural, c u l t u r a l and  literary  Natural conventions account for those aspects of existence  perfectly comprehensible on the basis of i n s t i n c t i v e common sense. Language that f a l l s into this category i s "discourse which requires no j u s t i f i c a t i o n because i t seems to derive from the structure of the world, the text of the natural attitude."  A character who  puts food i n his  mouth for sustenance i s e a s i l y understood by the reader because a l l persons act s i m i l a r l y i n order to assuage their hunger; such an action i s so natural that the very idea of i t s depending on convention for i t s 5  Frye, p.  76.  Jonathan C u l l e r , S t r u c t u r a l i s t Poetics (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1975), p. 140. 6  - 8 comprehensibility seems incongruous. Cultural conventions account for those aspects of the world that require explanation or j u s t i f i c a t i o n ; they take the form of knowledge and b e l i e f s shared by some, but not a l l persons.  A character who w i l l not stop  eating after his appetite has been s a t i s f i e d can only be understood  by  appealing to conventions of, say, r e l i g i o n , psychology or biology, according to which the character would be gluttonous, o r a l l y - f i x a t e d or suffering from a digestive disorder.  As Roland Barthes argues i n  Mythologies, the d i s t i n c t i o n between the natural and the c u l t u r a l i s often i n t e n t i o n a l l y blurred; champions of a p a r t i c u l a r c u l t u r a l convention ( l i b e r a l i s m , marxism) v i r t u a l l y always seek r e s p e c t a b i l i t y by aspiring to 7  the unquestioned  truth of the natural.  L i t e r a r y conventions, a l l of which stem from the poet's fundamental right to t e l l untruths (this writer, too, aspires to the natural) can only be learned from the study of l i t e r a t u r e .  Through the experience of  l i t e r a r y texts, we acquire expectations based on conceptions of form or genre, or on the r e l a t i o n of a text to others of i t s kind or to another s p e c i f i c text; i n short, we learn to read, to travel i n what Frye c a l l s the " l i t e r a r y universe."  Literary conventions, writes Culler, dictate that  "the reader attends to character i n a different way i f he i s reading a tragedy or i f he i s reading a comedy which he expects to end i n multiple g  marriages."  It follows that the character who  eats at a marriage  feast  at the end of a f i c t i o n may be better understood as a "sign" of the work's genre than as a hungry person. 7  Roland Barthes, Mythologies, trans. Annette Lavers (New York: Granada Publishing Limited, 1973). See preface. C u l l e r , p. 147. 8  - 9 -  Because they spring from l i t e r a t u r e i t s e l f , l i t e r a r y conventions determine the relevance of both natural and c u l t u r a l conventions to the reading of n o v e l i s t i c character.  For example, although a character may  appear to be a person, he may—and often does—see without s p i r i t , repent without conscience.  without eyes, rebel  He i s capable of these  "miracles" precisely because he i s words on a page, no more and no l e s s : "The unspoken word i s often eloquent," writes William Gass, "a character has what he has been given; he also has what he hasn't, just as strongly." Thus,  i t i s not at a l l correct to assume that because Mr. Mulholland has thumbs, he has hands, arms, torso, s e l f . That inference destroys the metaphor (a pure synecdoche), since his thumbs are a l l he seems to be. Mr. Mulholland i s monumentally clumsy, but i f you f i l T h i i n behind his thumbs, clumsiness w i l l not ensue. m  Distinguishing natural and c u l t u r a l conventions from their l i t e r a r y counterparts i n the novel i s a d i f f i c u l t task.  One reason i s that the  novel i s both a c u l t u r a l and a l i t e r a r y a r t i f a c t .  Another, more important,  reason i s that the novel i s a l i t e r a r y form which t r a d i t i o n a l l y attempts to pass for natural, t r u t h f u l , l i f e l i k e or r e a l i s t i c , by creating word-worlds which embody or incorporate the natural and c u l t u r a l conventions of i t s audience.  Novelistic  realism i s s t i l l a l i t e r a r y convention, but one that  enjoys the unique privilege of appearing to be convention-free, thus making the very idea of l i n g u i s t i c a r t i f i c e or l i t e r a r y convention seem  William H. Gass, "The Medium of F i c t i o n , " F i c t i o n and the Figures of L i f e (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1970), p. 46.  misplaced, i f not plain heartless. The novel however belongs to l i t e r a t u r e as much as i t belongs to the world, and i t s l i t e r a r i n e s s adds another dimension to our perception of it.  According to Menachem Brinker, i n the novel, as i n other art forms, Any given impression of naturalness or conventionalization i s , obviously, dually r e l a t i v e — r e l a t i v e to the basic conventions of the art form and^also r e l a t i v e to the habits and expections of i t s audience.  From a l i t e r a r y perspective, we can recognize that one of the basic conventions of the novel i s i t s tendency to build on or to incorporate other l i t e r a r y forms: the novel, says Woolf, i s "a cannibal which has 12  devoured so many forms of a r t " and w i l l devour "even more." way  Thus, one  the novel creates the impression of i t s own novelty i s by incorporating  elements of epic, tragedy, comedy, romance, picaresque f i c t i o n , autobiography, through parody.  l y r i c poetry, and then upsetting these t r a d i t i o n a l forms From this perspective, the upsetting or breaking of  t r a d i t i o n a l forms can be seen as a convention i n i t s e l f — o n e  that may well  be closer to the novel's heart than the impression of r e a l i t y i t often creates; realism, too, i s a convention that can be stood on i t s head. Perhaps nowhere are the l i t e r a r y and c u l t u r a l aspects of the novel so inextricably  interwoven as i n the language of character, and perhaps no  For an interesting discussion of the novel as a c u l t u r a l a r t i f a c t , see Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (Chicago: U. of Chicago Press, 1958), pp. 167-174. ^Menachem Brinker, "Verisimilitude, Conventions, and B e l i e f s , " New L i t e r a r y History, Vol. XIV, No. 2 (Winter, 1983), p. 255. Anyone interested i n the debate over convention, both s o c i a l and l i t e r a r y , should consult this issue of NLH. 12  Woolf, "The Narrow Bridge of Art," p.  224.  - 11 -  single word exemplifies the novel's a b i l i t y to confuse the boundary between our words and our world better than the word "character" i t s e l f .  In i t s  general c u l t u r a l sense, "character" i s "the sum of moral and mental q u a l i t i e s which distinguish an i n d i v i d u a l , " or account for his status as a person, for his personality (OED).  That this sense has i n f i l t r a t e d the  l i t e r a r y sense of the word can be seen by referring to v i r t u a l l y any handbook of l i t e r a t u r e .  In A Glossary of Literary Terms, for example,  Abrams defines characters as "the persons i n a dramatic  or narrative work"  13 (emphasis mine).  E. M. Forster implies a similar view i n his choice of  t i t l e for the chapters of Aspects of the Novel that deal with character: "Since the characters i n a story are usually human, i t seemed convenient to e n t i t l e this aspect People.'  The lack of any clear l i t e r a r y sense i n  " l i t e r a r y " d e f i n i t i o n s of character r e f l e c t s the t r a d i t i o n a l predominance of r e a l i s t i c convention or, as the writer of a recent a r t i c l e on character puts i t of, "the conventional assumption that character i s readable only when grounded i n the s p e c i f i c ideology of psychological coherence [which] equates 'character' with the p r i n c i p l e of i n t e l l i g i b l e behavior i t traditionally  illustrates."  1 5  This "conventional assumption" produces what Barthes c a l l s a " r e a l i s t i c view of character," a view shared by many c r i t i c s who write  M. H. Abrams, A Glossary of L i t e r a r y Terms (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., 1971), p. 21.  m E. M. Forster, Aspects of the Novel (Middlesex: Penguin, 1962), p. 54. Steven Cohan, "Readable Character," Novel, Vol. 17, No. 1 ( F a l l , 1983), p. 7. 15  -  about for  novelistic  example,  character.  Galsworthy  12  -  I n The C r e a t i o n  writes  of Character  i nLiterature,  that  t h e r e a r e c e r t a i n p r i m a r y r e a s o n s why t h e c r e a t i o n o f i n d i v i d u a l c h a r a c t e r as t h e c h i e f m o t i v e and f u n c t i o n o f t h e n o v e l i s t may n e v e r b e a d e q u a t e l y r e p l a c e d b y t h e p u r s u i t o f fine w r i t i n g , verbal d i a l e c t i c s , vibrational reproductions of l i f e , o r even by those s u b t l e e x p o s i t i o n s o f t h e g e n e r a l i z e d human s o u l . There i s , f o r i n s t a n c e , a deep c r a v i n g i n most o f us t o have i n t e r e s t i n o n e s e l f from t i m e t o t i m e r e p l a c e d by i n t e r e s t i n t h e s e l f o f a n o t h e r . This craving i s s a t i s f i e d by t h e c r e a t i o n o f c h a r a c t e r i n f i c t i o n .  John  Bayley,  "embedded  who  admits  that  i n the conception  h i s conclusions  about  character  o f p e r s o n a l i t y , " shares  must  Galsworthy's  remain view:  an a u t h o r ' s l o v e f o r h i s c h a r a c t e r s i s a d e l i g h t i n t h e i r independent e x i s t e n c e as other people, an a t t i t u d e towards t h e m w h i c h I s a n a l o g o u s t o o u r f e e l i n g s t o w a r d s t h o s e we l o v e i n l i f e ; and an i n t e n s e i n t e r e s t i n t h e i r p e r s o n a l i t i e s combined w i t h a s s o r t o f detached s o l i c i t u d e , a respect f o r t h e i r freedom.  Henry .  James  also  . . a novel  find  i n i t ? "  1  assigns  that 9  character  a central  i s not of character?  So d o e s V i r g i n i a  role  What  i n the novel:  else  d o we  seek  "What i s  i n i tand  Woolf:  I b e l i e v e that a l l novels . . . d e a l w i t h c h a r a c t e r , and that i t i s to express c h a r a c t e r — n o t to preach doctrines, sing songs, or celebrate the g l o r i e s of the B r i t i s h Empire,  Roland p. 178. 1 6  1974),  Barthes,  S_/Z, t r a n s .  Richard  Miller  (New Y o r k :  Hill  &  Wang,  17  Clarendon  John Galsworthy, The C r e a t i o n P r e s s , 1931), pp. 24-5.  of Character  i n Literature  (Oxford:  18 Ltd.,  John Bayley, The Characters 1 9 6 0 ) , p . 2 9 1 , p p . 7-8.  o f Love  (London:  Constable  and Company  19  H e n r y J a m e s , "The A r t o f F i c t i o n , " L i t e r a r y C r i t i c i s m , e d . W i l l i a m T. B r e w s t e r 1907), p. 247.  i n Specimens o f Modern E n g l i s h (New Y o r k : M a c m i l l a n & C o . ,  - 13 that the form of the novels, so clumsy, verbose, and undramatic, so r i c h , e l a s t i c , and a l i v e , has been evolved. Although Galsworthy, Bayley, James and Woolf undoubtedly  d i f f e r in their  conceptions of what human character i s and how i t should be expressed i n the novel, they a l l believe that the novel's primary function i s to capture its  essence. That theirs i s a c u l t u r a l b e l i e f motivated and influenced by  p o l i t i c a l conventions can be i l l u s t r a t e d by comparing i t to the arguments of  those c r i t i c s who do not accord character a place of special  in the novel.  importance  In "Against George Lukacs," Bertolt Brecht writes that "the  novel certainly does not stand or f a l l by i t s characters, l e t alone characters of the type that existed in the 19th century."  Further,  i t i s absolutely f a l s e , that i s to say, i t leads nowhere, i t i s not worth the a r t i s t ' s while, to simplify his problems so much that the immense, complicated, actual l i f e process of human beings in the age of the f i n a l struggle between the bourgeois and the proletarian class, i s reduced to a 'plot', setting or background for the creation of great i n d i v i d u a l s . Individuals should not occupy more space i n books, and above a l l not a different kind of space, than i n r e a l i t y . To Brecht, i f a novel i s to be r e a l i s t i c i t must portray the individual as a product of his s o c i a l and economic conditions: In the primeval forest of early capitalism individuals fought against individuals, and against groups of individuals; b a s i c a l l y they fought against 'the whole of society^. This was precisely what determined their i n d i v i d u a l i t y .  20  Vol.  V i r g i n i a Woolf, "Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown," Collected Essays, I (London: The Hogarth Press, 1966), p. 324. 21  Bertolt Brecht, "Against George Lukacs," trans. Stuart Hood, i n Aesthetics and P o l i t i c s , trans, ed. Ronald Taylor (London: New Left Review Editions, 1977), pp. 77-78.  -14-  Taking the idea of individual as "product" of social and economic forces to the extreme, a number of modern theorists have argued for the a b o l i t i o n of c h a r a c t e r — a t least of the type admired by Galsworthy and James.  Robbe-Grillet argues that the "novel of character belongs  entirely  to the past, i t describes a period: that which marked the apogee of the i n d i v i d u a l , " and that the twentieth century i s e s s e n t i a l l y different from the nineteenth century which produced the c l a s s i c novels of character: Our world, today, i s less sure of i t s e l f , more modest perhaps, since i t has renounced the omnipotence of the person, but more ambitious too, since i t looks beyond. The exclusive cult of the 'human' has given way to a larger consciousness, one that i s less anthropocentric. The novel seems to stagger, having lost what once was i t s best prop, the hero. If i t does not manage to right i t s e l f , i t i s because i t s l i f e was linked to that of a society now past.  2  The "marxist" position of Brecht and Robbe-Grillet depends on their b e l i e f that the individual i s largely determined  by the conditions of his  existence just as s u r e l y — i f more e x p l i c i t l y — a s the " l i b e r a l " position of Galsworthy and James grows out of their b e l i e f i n "the autonomy of the i n d i v i d u a l , irrespective  of his particular s o c i a l status or personal  23  capacity."  The nature of these b e l i e f s i s secondary  to the fact that  they a l l r e f l e c t adherence t o [ r e l i g i o u s , philosophical and  political  conventions; they are a l l rooted i n opposing conceptions of man supposedly  as he  exists i n r e a l i t y : they a l l regard character as what Barthes  c a l l s the "character-person," though they disagree as to what or who  this  22  Alain Robbe-Grillet, For a New Novel, trans. Richard Howard York: Grove Press, 1965), p. 29. 2 3  (New  I a n Watt, The Rise of the Novel (Middlesex: Penguin, 1957), p. 66.  person i s . These i d e o l o g i c a l differences as to the nature and importance of character often inform the debate over the r e l a t i v e importance of plot and character: "the b e l i e f that character exists absolutely and apart from i t s acts turns up when almost anybody asks whether character or plot i s more basic in a novel."  Walcutt's equation of a character's "acts" or actions  with plot suggests that the character/plot debate i s a direct corollary of the r e a l i s t i c view of character.  Of course, insofar as we are w i l l i n g to  accept the i l l u s i o n that a character i s an autonomous person and the plot i s an undetermined action, we may  admit that "there can be a vast  difference i n the r e l a t i v e importance of these two elements." novelist who  A  believes that a person's character i s prior to and determinant  of his action may  be expected to consider character of primary i n t e r e s t ,  and to create the i l l u s i o n that character determines the action, which i n turn i l l u s t r a t e s i t .  Conversely, a novelist who  character i s determined by what his circumstances  believes that a person's dictate he must do may  be  expected to regard action as more worthy of attention, and to create the i l l u s i o n that action determines character, which i s of l i t t l e or no interest i n i t s e l f .  2 6  24  Roland Barthes, Image-Music-Text, trans. Stephen Heath (New York: H i l l and Wang, 1977), pp. 104-5. Barthes reveals his own i d e o l o g i c a l leanings by r e s t r i c t i n g this useful term to the bourgeois conception of the i n d i v i d u a l : "The 'character-person' reigns i n the bourgeois novel .... what happens i l l u s t r a t e s [him], i t does not form [him]." I have expanded the term to cover both the marxist and the bourgeois person. 25  Charles Child Walcutt, Man's Changing Mask (Minneapolis: U. of Minn. Press, 1966), pp. 6, 16. 26  For Todorov's analysis of how the " i l l u s i o n " of psychological and a-psychological narratives i s created see his essay "Narrative Men" i n Poetics of Prose, trans. Richard Howard (Ithaca: Cornell U. Press, 1977), pp. 66-79.  - 16 -  Such i l l u s i o n s , however, often t e l l us more about the writer's b e l i e f s about the world than about l i t e r a t u r e i t s e l f .  We  learn something  about Henry James, for instance, when he writes that the t r a d i t i o n a l d i s t i n c t i o n between the novel of "incident" and the novel of character i s outdated and "answers l i t t l e to any r e a l i t y " ; the terms can, he says, be "transposed at w i l l " : "What i s character but the determination  of 27  incident?  What i s incident but the i l l u s t r a t i o n of character?"  As  Todorov has pointed out, had James r e a l l y believed the terms were interchangeable,  he would have written: "What i s incident but  the  28 determination  of character?"  James i s not r e a l l y addressing  the  question of the r e l a t i o n of character and plot at a l l ; he i s , however, communicating his l i b e r a l b e l i e f that "the chief interest of a f i c t i o n a l work l i e s i n i t s creation of fascinating characters or i t s psychological 29 revelations. A r i s t o t l e does not share James' perspective; he stresses instead the primacy of p l o t , "the arrangement of the incidents."  Like that of James,  A r i s t o t l e ' s p o s i t i o n r e f l e c t s — a t least p a r t i a l l y — h i s p o l i t i c a l  and  e t h i c a l b e l i e f s ; he regards action as the end of l i f e , and he regards the end of l i f e to be the proper subject of the poet: imitation of man, misery."  30  "tragedy i s not  the  per se, but of human action and l i f e and happiness and  But A r i s t o t l e demonstrates considerably more l i t e r a r y insight  27 Henry James, p. 247. 28 Todorov, p. 66. 29 0. B. Hardison, J r . , A r i s t o t l e ' s Poetics: A Translation and Commentary f o r Students of L i t e r a t u r e , trans. Leon Golden (Englewood C l i f f s , N.J.: Prentice H a l l , 1968), pp. 82-83. 3 0  A r i s t o t l e , Poetics, VI, 33; VI,  48.  than James by defining plot not simply as action or incident but as the arrangement of such action, or, as Abrams defines i t more fully, "the structure of . . . actions, as these are ordered and rendered toward 31  achieving particular emotional and artistic effects" (emphasis mine). For Aristotle, as for Abrams, plot i s a literary, a written, structure of action.  This definition allows Aristotle to distinguish between ethos  (that which reveals moral purpose and results from a choice between actions, and is therefore inherent in our notion of personality) and pratton (the performer or agent of an action).  By arguing that tragedy i s  possible without ethos, but not without an agent performing the action, Aristotle provides us with a means of identifying a uniquely literary aspect of character that cannot be accommodated within the character-person. This aspect is perhaps best understood i f we recognize the literary character for what he is and not for what he usually pretends to be. Though he often appears to be a free-agent and thus to enjoy at least some measure of choice in his actions, he actually enjoys no such birthright; the literary character is inarguably an agent  "who acts for another, a  representative, an emissary" (OED). As such, and to the extent he performs the action required of him by the poet, he cannot reveal ethos.  Aristotle  conceives of the agency or function of a character in relation to the basic plot requirements of other works of the same genre—since these too are imitated by the poet.  A s k i l l f u l poet like Sophocles may create the  illusion, for example, that Oedipus i s free to stand or f a l l , but the experienced reader will recognize him as a tragic hero whose fall—regardless of the particularities of i t s motivation or i t s 31  Abrams, p. 127.  - 18 -  r e a l i z a t i o n — i s inevitable.  Insofar as Oedipus' action can be seen to  conform to the conventional plot of tragedy, he cannot reveal his personality—he can only reveal his function as agent.  When a character's  agency is revealed, we can speak of the character-agent; when a character's agency is concealed, we see only the character-person. Aristotle, unfortunately, does much to obscure his crucial distinction when he assigns the fundamental agent-aspect  or "core" of the  character a "trait" which, to modern eyes, looks suspiciously like just another character-trait, which Aristotle emphatically states i t is not. The tragic hero, he writes, i s spoudaios—variously translated as noble, good, serious, weighty.  The name assigned to this aspect of character,  however, i s far less important than the idea that i t refers to that aspect which neither precedes, nor proceeds from, but is inherent i n , the portion of a character's action which is demonstrably written, or determined by traditional generic convenions.  Frye appears to have understood Aristotle  in this light; however, in his terminology, the character-agent becomes the stock type: A l l l i f e l i k e characters, whether in drama or fiction, owe their consistency to the appropriateness of the stock type which belongs to their dramatic function. The stock type Is not the character but i t is as necessary to the character as a skeleton is to the actor who plays i t . 3 3  Aristotle's distinction between what we may call the character-person and the character-agent is crucial to the study of character because i t allows us to separate the language of character from  32  0 . B. Hardison, pp. 82-85.  33  Frye, p. 172.  - 19 -  the i l l u s i o n i t creates.  The d i s t i n c t i o n i s firmly grounded i n the fact  that l i t e r a r y character—whether i n the novel or i n drama—is written, or, as Barthes puts i t , that "the discourse, rather than the characters, 31. determines the action."  Keeping this " r e a l i s t i c view of discourse" i n  mind, we can reject W. J . Harvey's argument that "we may sometimes legitimately assume a character's autonomy"; we can begin instead to appreciate what Culler i d e n t i f i e s as "that fundamental tautology of f i c t i o n which allows us to i n f e r character from action and then to be pleased at 35  the way i n which action accords with character." This study of character as a type of language i n no way ignores the i l l u s i o n of the character-person, or denies the pleasure that this i l l u s i o n 36  may provide.  I t does, however, because i t i s interested i n character as  language, devote less attention to the i l l u s i o n s this language can produce than to the ways i n which i t can be made to disappear or to appear depending on an author's intentions and, further, to the ways i n which this disappearance and appearance of the language of character can become a thematic concern.  Because, i n the novel, the language of character most  often centers around a proper name to create the i l l u s i o n of the Barthes, S/Z, p. 18. 31t  35  " r e a l i s t i c view of discourse" i s Barthes' term — see S/Z, p. 178; W. J . Harvey, Character and the Novel (London: Chatto & Windus, 1965), p. 205; C u l l e r , p. 143. 36  Many Formalist/Structuralist analyses of character have f a i l e d to produce results because they ignored the character-person, or the mimetic aspect of character, and attempted to account for character as an agent completely determined by i t s function i n the plot. For b r i e f summaries of the attempts of Propp, Greimas, Todorov and Bremond see Barthes, Image-Music-Text, pp. 104-107; and C u l l e r , S t r u c t u r a l i s t Poetics, pp. 230-8. For a p o s i t i v e l y frightening example of the excesses of structural analysis of character, see Fernando Ferrara, "Theory and Model for the Structural Analysis of F i c t i o n , " New L i t e r a r y History, Vol. V, No. 2 (Winter, 1974), pp. 245-68.  - 20  character-person,  t h r e e i n d i v i d u a l c h a r a c t e r s have been chosen as  o b j e c t of t h i s study, d i s c o u r s e and,  -  remembering always that "the  conversely,  the  c h a r a c t e r s are types  the d i s c o u r s e i s a c h a r a c t e r  like  of  the  37  others."  They occupy r e l a t i v e l y d i f f e r e n t  t h a t moves from the i n v i s i b i l i t y complementary thematic  of the language of c h a r a c t e r and i t s  i t s r e s u l t a n t thematic  the t h r e e , M o l l F l a n d e r s  character-person.  comes c l o s e s t to the autonomous  Through the c o m p l i c i t y of Defoe, who  meticulously  of r e a l i s m , M o l l  a l l the p r i v i l e g e s of a person, from freedom of a c t i o n to  freedom of speech.  As a r e s u l t ,  c h a r a c t e r at a l l . c l e a r l y be  the  importance.  d i s g u i s e s a l l her l i t e r a r i n e s s under the conventions appears to enjoy  gradient  i r r e l e v a n c e , to the conspicuous appearance of  language of c h a r a c t e r and Of  p o s i t i o n s along a  W i l l Ladislaw,  she h a r d l y appears to be a who  i n h a b i t s a very d i f f e r e n t n o v e l ,  seen to f u n c t i o n as a c h a r a c t e r - a g e n t ,  hero used by E l i o t  literary  an i l l - s t a r r e d  i n the t e l l i n g of a s t o r y that i s hers b e f o r e  of the c h a r a c t e r s ' .  As  the n o v e l p r o g r e s s e s ,  W i l l begins  can  romance i t i s any  to appear as a  l i t e r a r y c o n s t r u c t , a " c l u s t e r of s i g n s , " determined l a r g e l y by i t s r o l e i n Eliot's  i n t e n t i o n a l u p s e t t i n g of romance convention  probing  realism appropriate In Leopold  character-person  i n favour  to "A Study of P r o v i n c i a l  Life."  Bloom, Joyce r e v e a l s the l i n g u i s t i c nature and  the c h a r a c t e r - a g e n t .  By  showing how  of r e a l i s m a c c o r d i n g  to which these  i n terms of p s y c h o l o g i c a l m o t i v a t i o n  3 7  3 8  Barthes,  S/Z,  p.  179.  E l i o t , Middlemarch, p.  105.  and  the  of both  the  Bloom's a c t i o n i s  s i g n i f i c a n t l y determined by Homer's Odysseus, Joyce undercuts conventions  of  38  the  a c t i o n s would be e x p l i c a b l e  plausiblity.  He  f u r t h e r suspends  - 21' -  realistic  conventions  of a n a r r a t o r — a n o t h e r  by removing the n a r r a t i o n from the apparent f a c e o f the c h a r a c t e r - p e r s o n .  control  Thus f r e e d from a  human source and a human r e f e r e n t , the language o f c h a r a c t e r becomes the character.  When the c h a r a c t e r - p e r s o n d i s a p p e a r s  i n t o the language of the  d i s c o u r s e , we see the " c h a r a c t e r - c h a r a c t e r , " a t a u t o l o g i c a l c o n f r o n t s us w i t h the t r u t h t h a t c h a r a c t e r i s , a f t e r a l l ,  c r e a t u r e which  language.  - 22  -  CHAPTER TWO MOLL FLANDERS AS  M o l l Flanders  i s a character-person  F l a n d e r s , w r i t e s F o r s t e r , "the l i k e s " and The  the n o v e l ' s  real credit  creates  for Moll's v i t a l i t y ,  c o n v e n t i o n s on the one  extent  character  par e x c e l l e n c e .  i s everything  can do what i t  of course,  character."  belongs to Defoe  by  simultaneously  conventions on the o t h e r .  realistic  and  H i s d i s g u i s i n g of  the  l i t e r a r y conventions e f f e c t i v e l y r e l e g a t e s the language of  to the  r o l e of an a r t l e s s window which, however s u b j e c t i v e l y ,  r e v e a l s a supposedly r e a l h i s t o r i c a l personage who of t h i s  r e a l i s t i c view of c h a r a c t e r and  and  critics  to judge M o l l , i f at a l l ,  e t h i c a l terms, as i f she were a person.  as r e v e a l i n g accounts of the  "Gust and  The  F o r s t e r , A s p e c t s o f the Novel (Middlesex:  D a n i e l Defoe, M o l l F l a n d e r s (Oxford: OUP, r e f e r e n c e s w i l l f o l l o w q u o t a t i o n s i n the t e x t . 2  surrender  many attempts to e x p l a i n  difficulty  e x p l a i n i n g M o l l i s d i r e c t l y p r o p o r t i o n a l to Defoe's success  E. M. 64.  to adopt a  P a l a t e of the Reader"  than as accounts of M o l l as a l i t e r a r y c h a r a c t e r .  69,  and  i n moral or  M o l l , however, cannot  the autonomy t h a t Defoe has w r i t t e n i n t o her and end  i s both the s u b j e c t  language.  Defoe's a r t f u l a r t l e s s n e s s o b l i g e s readers  pp.  who  to  incorporating  1  to which M o l l i s an a r t f u l l y w r i t t e n arrangement of words p a r t i a l l y  character  her  and  autonomy or a u t h o r i t y by a p p e a l i n g  hand and  picaresque  determined by  object  In M o l l  form "proceeds n a t u r a l l y out of her  the i l l u s i o n of her  undercutting  CHARACTER-PERSON  rather  of  at c r e a t i n g  Penguin, 1962),  1981), p. 2.  Further  the  -  illusion  23 -  of her personhood, an i l l u s i o n which depends on the i n v i s i b i l i t y  of a l l a r t i f i c e ,  i n c l u d i n g any s i g n s o f a u t h o r i a l i n t r u s i o n or thematic  i n t e n t i o n , which would n e c e s s a r i l y i l l u m i n a t e M o l l ' s reduce h e r p l a u s i b i l i t y as a c h a r a c t e r - p e r s o n . to make M o l l any  real paradoxically  artistry.  resides  requires  I r o n i c a l l y , the s u r e s t  i n the a t t a c k s  agency and t h e r e f o r e  Defoe's a r t i s t i c  intention  that he r e f r a i n from d i s p l a y i n g  s i g n o f Defoe's a r t i s t i c  o f c r i t i c s who t r y t o j u s t i f y  t h e i r own  success unsuccessful  attempts t o come t o g r i p s w i t h M o l l by a s s e r t i n g Defoe's a r t i s t i c if  they admit he can be p r o p e r l y C r i t i c s generally  unfolds  considered  p e r s o n a l i t y , as i t  i n h e r i n t e r a c t i o n w i t h her husbands, her c h i l d r e n , h e r s o c i e t y at  c o n v e n t i o n s or b e l i e f s . the c a t e g o r i e s  that  to three  As b e f i t s M o l l ' s  she h e r s e l f i m p l i c i t l y  these correspond to  or e x p l i c i t l y  appeals to i n  From M o l l ' s  recurring  i n f l u e n c e of the d e v i l and from h e r p r o f e s s e d  i n t e n t i o n t o make h e r s t o r y m o r a l l y of her b e h a v i o r .  bodies of c u l t u r a l  authority,  ( o r not t r y i n g ) t o account f o r h e r s e l f .  a l l u s i o n to the b a n e f u l  task  at a l l .  attempt to account f o r M o l l ' s  l a r g e and h e r c o n s c i e n c e , by a p p e a l i n g  trying  an a r t i s t  failure—  i n s t r u c t i v e come r e l i g i o n s  From h e r b e l i e f that p o v e r t y has f a c i l i t a t e d  explanations the d e v i l ' s  come accounts of h e r b e h a v i o r based on b e l i e f s p e r t a i n i n g t o the  i n f l u e n c e o f s o c i a l and economic c o n d i t i o n s .  And from M o l l ' s  implication  that both the d e v i l and p o v e r t y have a f f e c t e d what she e s s e n t i a l l y i s by n a t u r e come e x p l a n a t i o n s  a r i s i n g from b e l i e f s and assumptions about human  n a t u r e , p e r s o n a l i t y and psychology. E. M. F o r s t e r ' s  r e a c t i o n to M o l l  falls  Take, f o r example, h i s a n a l y s i s of M o l l ' s her  t h e f t of a c h i l d ' s g o l d n e c k l a c e .  the  death o f M o l l ' s  into this last  category.  much-discussed r e f l e c t i o n upon  The episode occurs two years a f t e r  banker-husband has put an end to her "sober, grave,  - 24 -  r e t i r ' d L i f e " and precipitated a s l i d e into poverty that she has recently attempted to remedy through thievery (MF, p. 193). During t h i s , her second t h e f t , Moll has been tempted to k i l l the c h i l d , but fear at the thought of such a crime has led her to release her victim unharmed.  Afterwards, she  reflects:  The thoughts of this Booty put out a l l the thoughts of the f i r s t , and the Reflections I had made wore quickly off; Poverty, as I have said, hardened my Heart, and my own Necessities made me regardless of any thing: The l a s t A f f a i r l e f t no great Concern upon me, for as I did the poor Child no harm, I only said to my s e l f , I had given the Parents a just Reproof for t h e i r Negligence i n leaving the poor l i t t l e Lamb to come home by i t s e l f , and i t would teach them to take more Care of i t another time. (MF, p. 194)  Forster's interpretation of Moll's r e f l e c t i o n s i s worth noting, both for what i t says and for what i t f a i l s to say: How just are her r e f l e c t i o n s when she robs of her gold necklace the l i t t l e g i r l returning from the dancing-class! . . . How heavily and pretentiously a modern psychologist would labour to express t h i s ! . . . Whatever she does gives us a s l i g h t shock—not the j o l t of disillusionment, but the t h r i l l that proceeds from a l i v i n g being. Forster does not a r t i c u l a t e what he thinks Moll expresses or reveals when she ignores her perplexing impulse to k i l l the c h i l d and proceeds to argue —in  a laughably inconsistent manner—that, on the one hand, her g u i l t i s  attenuated by the poverty which has necessitated her crime, and that, on the other hand, the theft i s r e a l l y not a crime at a l l , but a good and charitable deed. irony inherent  Nor does he state whether Moll herself perceives the  i n her inconsistency, though he implies that she does . . .  and she doesn't.  Moll, he writes, i s "neither hypocrite"  ("one who a f f e c t s  q u a l i t i e s or virtues he does not have"), "nor f o o l " ("one d e f i c i e n t i n  - 25 -  judgement or sense" (OED). his  Forster's silence i s not bereft of eloquence:  subtle appeal to the unwritten text of the natural suggests that he,  l i k e Howard L. Koonce, finds Moll's "moral muddle" "thoroughly disarming" because i t reveals a d e l i g h t f u l l y human nature deserving of admiration, not uncharitable judgement. Other c r i t i c s , less enraptured by Moll's essential humanity,  explain  her thoughts, feelings and actions In terms of the determining influence of s o c i a l and economic conditions.  Robert A l t e r , for example, appeals to the  authority of Max Weber and argues that " C a p i t a l i s t rationalism, as Weber describes i t , i s the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c that permeates a l l the thinking and a l l the  actions of Moll Flanders." Thus, Moll Flanders can have such an amazingly easy conscience about her crimes because, however much she professes the contrary, they are not r e a l l y crimes for her. The only act that she could sense profoundly as criminal would be for her to shirk her duty to accumulate c a p i t a l .  In a s l i g h t l y different vein, Mark Schorer asserts that Moll's elusive sense of right and wrong can be explained as a product of her commercial society.  Moll's morality, says Schorer, " i s the morality of measurement  [according to which] virtue and worldly goods form an equation  . . . .  Forster, pp. 66-67. Howard Koonce, "Moll's Muddle: Defoe's Use of Irony i n Moll Flanders," ELH, 30, No. 4 (1963), r p t . i n Twentieth Century Interpretations of Moll Flanders, ed. Robert C. E l l i o t (New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1970), p. 50. 5  Robert A l t e r , "A Bourgeois Picaroon," i n Rogue's Progress: Studies i n the Picaresque Novel (1964), r p t . i n Twentieth Century Interpretations of Moll Flanders, p. 75.  - 26 -  Moll Flanders i s our c l a s s i c revelation of the mercantile mind."  To  Arnold Kettle, the social and economic conditions of her day also explain why Moll does not enter more f u l l y into l a s t i n g human relationships: "Moll i s forced to be an i n d i v i d u a l i s t by her decision to try to be free in the 7  man's world of eighteenth-century England." S t i l l other c r i t i c s try to account for Moll's character by stressing the decisive influence of r e l i g i o n .  Watt, for example, quotes Svend  Ranulf's Moral Indignation and Middle Class Psychology  to the effect that  One of the strengths of Puritanism . . . lay i n i t s tendency to convert i t s demand for righteousness into a somewhat uncharitable aggressiveness against the sins of others: and t h i s , of course, carried with i t a complementary tendency f o r the individual to be m e r c i f u l l y blind to his own f a u l t s . G. A. Starr also sees Moll's character as e s s e n t i a l l y Puritan.  He attempts  to account for her r a t i o n a l i z a t i o n s by r e f e r r i n g to William Perkins, "the 9  Puritan father of English casuistry."  Although he attributes to i t a  d i f f e r e n t significance, Robert Alan Donovan recognizes a similar religious influence i n Moll's behavior: "Her p u r i t a n i c a l system of moral valuations . . . serves in much the same way as her widow's weeds or duchess's costume to confer upon her a moral nature, but one that i s quite s u p e r f i c i a l . "  1 0  Mark Schorer, "A Study i n Defoe: Moral Vision and Structural Form," Thought, XXV (1950), pp. 283-84. 6  7  Arnold Kettle, "In Defense of Moll Flanders," i n Of Books and Humankind (1964), r p t . i n Moll Flanders: An Authoritative Text p. 395. Q Ian Watt, The Rise of the Novel (Middlesex: Penguin, 1957), p.13. 9  G. A. Starr, "Defoe and Casuistry: Moll Flanders," i n Defoe and Casuistry (1971), rpt. i n Moll Flanders: An Authoritative Text, p. 424. Robert Donovan, "The Two Heroines of Moll Flanders," i n The Shaping V i s i o n (1966), r p t . i n Moll Flanders: An Authoritative Text, p. 404. 10  - 27 -  The  common feature of a l l these c r i t i c a l explanations  of Moll i s  that they are moral or e t h i c a l judgements of her character rather than evaluations of her as a character. that accounting  They a l l accept i m p l i c t l y or e x p l i c i t l y  for Moll e n t a i l s an attempt to "distinguish between  what Moll does and what she e s s e n t i a l l y i s . "  1 1  ...  A l l treat Moll as i f she  were a real person l i v i n g under the real influence of s o c i a l , economic and r e l i g i o u s conditions.  C o l l e c t i v e l y , they support  Boardman's assertion that  One's judgement of Moll . . . depends on no strong textual d i c t a t e s , but on one's own d i f f e r i n g n a t u r a l i s t i c expectations about real people i n the real world. One turns inward, i f one questions Moll at a l l , for plausible explanations of he^r c o n f l i c t i n g blindness and i n s i g h t , since Defoe i s s i l e n t . Starr says much the same thing: One's opinion as to which . . . aspect of Moll Flanders i s most fundamental w i l l probably depend less on the book i t s e l f than on one's personal convictions about the r e l a t i v e weight of psychological, economic, s o c i a l , and r e l i g i o u s 'explanations' of human behaviour.  The insights of Starr and Boardman provide a context for James Joyce's comment that Moll Flanders i s one of a t r i o of Defoe's female characters which "reduces contemporary c r i t i c i s m to a stupefied 1k  impotence.'  Moll accomplishes this feat by e f f e c t i v e l y reversing the  t r a d i t i o n a l roles of character and c r i t i c .  T r a d i t i o n a l l y , the c r i t i c i s  Starr, "Defoe and Casuistry: Moll Flanders," p.  424.  12  Boardman, Defoe and the Uses of Narrative, p.  119.  13  Starr, "Introduction," Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe (Oxford:OUP, 1981), p. x i i . 1*+  James Joyce, "Defoe's Female Characters," i n "Daniel Defoe," (1912) rpt. iri Moll Flanders: An authoritative Text, p.346.  - 28 -  the one who  explains or elucidates the l i t e r a r y character.  above examples i l l u s t r a t e , explanations  But, as the  or accounts of Moll often d i s c l o s e  more about the e t h i c a l b e l i e f s or i d e o l o g i c a l positions of the c r i t i c s than about Moll as a l i t e r a r y character. a character-person  The impotence that Moll's autonomy as  imposes on c r i t i c s has provoked more than one to  question her success as a l i t e r a r y creation and Defoe's talent as an artist. Discussing Moll's r e f l e c t i o n s on her theft of the necklace, for example, Watt expresses some reservation:  There i s , however, some doubt about Defoe's intention: i s i t meant to be an i r o n i c a l touch about his heroine's moral d u p l i c i t i e s , her tendency to be blind to the beam i n her own eye? Or did Defoe forget Moll as he raged inwardly at the thought of how careless parents are, and how r i c h l y they deserve to be punished? According  to this interpretation, Defoe's supposed preoccupation  with what  Watt assumes are his serious moral intentions leads to imperfections i n the novel, and opens up the p o s s i b i l i t y that not only M o l l , but also Defoe himself may  be unaware of the irony inherent i n the heroine's  reflections:  there was no way i n which Defoe could make good his d i d a c t i c professions except by making Moll double as chorus for his own honest b e l i e f s ; and there i s therefore good reason to believe that the moral imperceptiveness which i s so laughably clear to us i s i n fact a r e f l e c t i o n of one of the psychological c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of Puritanism which Defoe shared with his heroine. Taken to i t s l o g i c a l extreme, Watt's view would destroy Moll as a l i t e r a r y character and Defoe as an a r t i s t by reducing her to a  simple,  u n a r t i s t i c r e f l e c t i o n of his mind, i t s e l f undoubtedly influenced by the  15  Watt, pp. 128,  139,  140.  - 29 -  s o c i a l , economic and religious conditions of eighteenth-century England. Mark Schorer expresses exactly this position when he argues that Moll Flanders i s a psychological projection of Defoe:  The Puritan and the j o u r n a l i s t together, the f i r s t out of genuine suspicions of the i d l e and the second out of his conviction that nothing i s more persuasive than fact, lead Defoe to deny that he i s writing f i c t i o n at a l l . On the contrary, he t e l l s us, he i s merely editing the diary of a real and notorious character who must, for reputation's sake, present herself under a pseudonym. Thus at once Defoe saves his conscience and puts himself into his favorite position, the assumed r o l e . He i s not t e l l i n g us about Moll Flanders, he i s Moll F l a n d e r s . 16  The same apparent lack of a r t i s t r y that creates the d i f f i c u l t y i n accounting for Moll and leads to doubts about Defoe's a r t i s t r y i n general, also leads to reservations about h i s right to the t i t l e of the founder of the novel as a l i t e r a r y form.  Watt, for one, i s unwilling to grant Defoe  this position:  the novel could be considered established only when r e a l i s t i c narrative was organized into a plot which, while retaining Defoe's l i f e l i k e n e s s , also had an i n t r i n s i c coherence; when the n o v e l i s t ' s eye was focused on character and personal relationships as essential elements i n the t o t a l structure, and not merely as subordinate instruments f o r furthering the v e r i s i m i l i t u d e of the actions described; and whe,n a l l these were related to a c o n t r o l l i n g moral intention.  Though he seems to locate the o r i g i n of the novel long before Defoe, Boardman substantially shares Watt's assessment: "The moral  indeterminacy  of Moll, as expressive as i t i s , took Defoe away from the t r a d i t i o n a l  16  S c h o r e r , pp. 281-2.  17  Watt, p. 147.  - 30 -  novel."  Besides revealing something of the way i n which l i t e r a r y  conventions of form are p a r t i a l l y determined by c u l t u r a l values and b e l i e f s , the opinions of Watt and Boardman acknowledge Defoe's success i n r e a l i z i n g his a r t i s t i c intention of making Moll r e a l — s o real that she does not appear to be written at a l l . A l l such attempts to deny Defoe's a r t i s t r y , as well the s p i r i t e d defences of his a r t i s t i c control they i n s p i r e , i r o n i c a l l y constitute the greatest imaginable tribute to his a r t i s t r y .  Defoe's salient talent as an  a r t i s t , as even his detractors admit, i s his a b i l i t y to create the i l l u s i o n of unaltered r e a l i t y .  Even Watt says that "Defoe's talent . . .  supreme one i n the novel: Defoe i s the master i l l u s i o n i s t . " point, Watt joins i l l u s t r i o u s company.  1 9  i s the  On this  Charles Lamb writes that "the  narrative manner of De Foe has a naturalness about i t beyond that of any other novel or romance writer.  His f i c t i o n s have the a i r of true  20  stories.'  And De Quincey observes that "Defoe i s the only author known  who has so plausibly circumstantiated his false h i s t o r i c a l records as to make them pass for genuine, even with l i t e r a r y men and c r i t i c s . "  2 1  Watt and other c r i t i c s who would acknowledge Defoe as a master of i l l u s i o n and would admire the impression of unaltered, unadorned r e a l i t y his works provide, yet c r i t i c i z e them for not manifesting the reassuringly Boardman, p. 131. 19  Watt, p. 147.  20  Charles Lamb, "Estimate of Defoe's Secondary Novels," i n Memoirs of the L i f e and Times of Daniel Defoe (1830) rpt. i n Moll Flanders: An Authoritative Text, p. 326. 21  Thomas De Quincey, ' De Quincey on V e r i s i m i l i t u d e , " i n Defoe: The C r i t i c a l Heritage, ed. Pat Rogers (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1972), p. 117.  - 31 -  manageable order of l i t e r a r y creations, would have their cake and eat i t too.  The i l l u s i o n that Moll i s an autonomous person who  uses language as a  transparent medium to describe herself, however, precludes the appearance of any signs of controlled a r t i s t r y which would reveal her as a l i t e r a r y creation p a r t i a l l y determined by l i t e r a r y conventions.  Defoe succeeds i n  effacing the contrived a i r of a r t i s t r y by removing himself as "an i n t e r n a l , purposeful presence" i n Moll's story and by assuming instead the role of "impersonal deity, presiding from afar."  The price that must be paid for  the resulting i l l u s i o n of r e a l i t y — a price which Watt and Boardman are unwilling to p a y — i s the a r t i s t ' s surrender of thematic control, of "his 9 9  a b i l i t y to sway his readers' minds." Far from compromising Defoe's status as an a r t i s t or as a n o v e l i s t , the techniques he uses to create the i l l u s i o n of Moll as a character-person affirm his right to be esteemed as both an a r t i s t and a novelist whose works are central to the novel as a l i t e r a r y form.  Defoe creates Moll as a  v i t a l , autonomous character-person i n two main ways.  F i r s t , he appeals to  and incorporates the natural and c u l t u r a l conventions of his day, including b e l i e f s pertaining to r e l i g i o n , psychology, and s o c i a l and economic conditions, by imitating the discursive, r e f e r e n t i a l conventions of autobiography, criminal biography, r e l i g i o u s tracts and j o u r n a l i s t i c reporting, a l l of which place language i n the service of r e a l i t y and truth.  Second, he strengthens the i l l u s i o n of r e a l i t y thus created by  incorporating v i s i b l y f i c t i o n a l elements of picaresque narrative, or the related s e m i - f i c t i o n a l rogue biography, and submitting these (and the charmed existence they would normally guarantee  22  Boardman, pp. 112,  119.  the heroine) to r e a l - l i f e  - 32 -  s o c i a l , economic, p s y c h o l o g i c a l and moral laws. strengthens  the i l l u s i o n of M o l l ' s warm-blooded s p o n t a n e i t y  both r e a l i t y and the l i t e r a r y The technique  Preface  r e l a t i v e to  realm.  of M o l l Flanders  as master i l l u s i o n i s t ;  p r o v i d e s a paradigm o f Defoe's  i t does n o t , as Watt and Schorer  argued, r e v e a l Defoe's genuine d i d a c t i c intentions.  In t h i s way, Defoe  (and t h e r e f o r e  have  unartistic)  Any n a i v e attempt to reduce the n a r r a t o r o f the P r e f a c e  to an  e x p r e s s i o n of Defoe's s i n c e r e moral i n t e n t i o n i s ( o r should be) thwarted by the f i r s t  sentence, i n which the n a r r a t o r demonstrates h i s l i t e r a r y  awareness by d i s t i n g u i s h i n g between the f i c t i o n a l  forms o f t h e n o v e l and  the romance, and the h i s t o r y , a true o r genuine account o f r e a l persons and events.  He l a t e r c o n f i r m s  profoundly  h i s l i t e r a r y acumen by t o u c h i n g  l i t e r a r y problem of r e n d e r i n g  on the  goodness as i n t e r e s t i n g as e v i l :  I t i s suggested t h e r e cannot be the same L i f e , the same B r i g h t n e s s and Beauty, i n r e l a t i n g the p e n i t e n t P a r t , as i s i n the c r i m i n a l P a r t : I f t h e r e i s any T r u t h i n t h a t S u g g e s t i o n , I must be allow'd to say, ' t i s because there i s not the same t a s t e and r e l i s h i n the Reading, and indeed i t i s too true that the d i f f e r e n c e l y e s not i n the r e a l worth o f the Subject so much as i n the Gust and P a l a t e o f the Reader. (MF, p. 2)  L i k e Defoe, the n a r r a t o r i s p e r f e c t l y f a m i l i a r w i t h the d i f f e r e n c e between f a c t and f i c t i o n and, on Defoe's b e h a l f , he proceeds to use h i s knowledge to c r e a t e the i l l u s i o n t h a t M o l l i s a r e a l The gains (MF,  person.  n a r r a t o r ' s presentation of Moll's  s t o r y as a " p r i v a t e H i s t o r y "  i n c r e d i b i l i t y when he says t h a t he h i m s e l f possesses her memorandums p. 1).  He i n c r e a s e s the p l a u s i b i l i t y of M o l l ' s e x i s t e n c e  acknowledging t h a t , l i k e other product  o f her environment.  f u r t h e r by  persons, M o l l i s a t l e a s t p a r t i a l l y the  Moll's o r i g i n a l  s t o r y , he says, was " w r i t t e n  - 33 -  i n Language, more l i k e one Humble" (MF, convention, "no  p.  1).  He  still  i n Newgate, than one  l a t e r e l a b o r a t e s on t h i s appeal  u s i n g i t to e x p l a i n why  Body can w r i t e t h e i r own  write i t after  grown P e n i t e n t to n a t u r a l  M o l l ' s s t o r y remains u n f i n i s h e d :  L i f e to the f u l l End  they are dead" (MF,  p. 5).  He  of i t , u n l e s s  they  s t o r y by a s k i n g  to pay more a t t e n t i o n to what M o l l becomes than to what she  has  readers  been: " i t  to be hop'd that . . . Readers w i l l be much more p l e a s ' d w i t h  End  of the W r i t e r , than w i t h  . . . the  the L i f e of the Person w r i t t e n o f " (MF,  Having e s t a b l i s h e d the p l a u s i b i l i t y of M o l l ' s e x i s t e n c e by to w o r l d l y n a t u r a l and illusion relative possibility He  put  conventions,  to the l i t e r a r y realm by r a i s i n g and  [ M o l l ' s s t o r y ] up  for vitious  narrator's  "slip"  so c l e a n , as not  he has  the  [who]  must  be  to g i v e room, p.  1).  r a i s e s the p o s s i b i l i t y t h a t h i s "emendations" to to n a t u r a l and  cultural  the p l a u s i b i l i t y of the i l l u s i o n  T h i s p o s s i b i l i t y i s a l l the more c r e d i b l e i n l i g h t of h i s  obvious awareness of l i t e r a r y matters.  The  question  then a r i s e s as  where, i f anywhere, the s i g n s of h i s a l l e g e d a u t h o r i t y can be Moll's  this  namely h i m s e l f .  Readers to t u r n i t to h i s Disadvantage" (MF,  are o n l y p l o y s to s t r e n g t h e n  created.  2).  appealing  then d i s p e l l i n g  p o i n t as "an Author  M o l l ' s memorandums, along w i t h h i s other appeals convention,  p.  the n a r r a t o r strengthens  t h a t M o l l i s a f i c t i o n w r i t t e n by an author,  to wrap  especially The  cultural  e x p l i c i t l y r e f e r s to h i m s e l f at one  hard  can  s t r e s s e s the importance of  M o l l as a l i v i n g presence beyond the words of her  is  and  to  located i n  story. L i k e Defoe, on whose b e h a l f he i s a c t i n g , the n a r r a t o r never r e v e a l s  h i s presence i n M o l l ' s s t o r y . extent M o l l ' s  language:  He  admits to having  bowdlerized  to some  - 34  -  The Pen employ'd i n f i n i s h i n g her S t o r y , and making i t what you now see i t to be, has had no l i t t l e d i f f i c u l t y to put i t i n t o a Dress f i t to be seen, and to make i t speak Language f i t to be read. (MF, p. 1)  He  even admits that  "some of the v i c i o u s p a r t of her L i f e , which cou'd  be modestly t o l d , i s q u i t e l e f t reticent  on the q u e s t i o n  out"  (MF,  of what he has  p. 2).  r e a l claims  to a u t h o r s h i p  at a l l ,  he i s f a r more  added to M o l l ' s  s e l f - e f f a c i n g , p a s s i v e v o i c e always allows no  But  not  story.  f o r the p o s s i b i l i t y  that M o l l i s the r e a l  His t h a t he  has  author:  There Is i n t h i s Story abundance of d e l i g h t f u l I n c i d e n t s , and a l l of them u s e f u l l y a p p l y ' d . There i s an a g r e e a b l e t u r n A r t f u l l y g i v e n them i n the r e l a t i n g , t h a t n a t u r a l l y I n s t r u c t s the Reader, e i t h e r one way, or o t h e r . (MF, p. 2)  His claims  are weakened even f u r t h e r , and M o l l ' s are  s t r e n g t h e n e d , at the c l o s i n g of the P r e f a c e account of the end provides  of her  life—in  proportionately  when he d e c l i n e s to i n c l u d e  s p i t e of the f a c t  that i t a l l e g e d l y  another p o i n t of view by which the v e r a c i t y of M o l l ' s  conceivably  be j u d g e d — b y v i r t u e of i t s s t y l i s t i c  an  story  could  inferiority:  In her l a s t Scene at Maryland, and V i r g i n i a , many p l e a s a n t t h i n g s happen'd, which makes that p a r t of her L i f e very a g r e e a b l e , but they are not t o l d w i t h the same E l e g a n c y as those accounted f o r by h e r s e l f ; so i t i s s t i l l to the more Advantage that we break o f f here. (MF, p. 5)  Having p a i d M o l l the compliment of esteeming her  s t y l e more than  o b j e c t i v e t r u t h , the n a r r a t o r walks q u i e t l y from the n a r r a t i v e s t a g e . once he has refrains  d i s c l a i m e d h i s own  a u t h o r i t y , to the advantage of M o l l ' s ,  from i n t e r f e r i n g i n her  n a r r a t o r , Defoe thus grants  t e l l i n g of her  story.  Through  And he  the  to M o l l a freedom that v i r t u a l l y guarantees  her  - 35 -  p l a u s i b i l i t y as a person: freedom of e x p r e s s i o n . an a u t h o r i t a t i v e , autonomous c h a r a c t e r - p e r s o n she  seems to use words to t e l l  her  The  illusion  of M o l l  owes more to the way  s t o r y than to any  amount of  as  i n which  realistic  d e t a i l d e p i c t i n g her person, her emotions or her psychology, which perhaps e x p l a i n s why  Defoe thought i t unnecessary to have M o l l provide her  w i t h her h e i g h t or the c o l o u r of her eyes and According  hair.  to a r e a l i s t i c view of c h a r a c t e r , M o l l ' s a b i l i t y  s t o r i e s , to c r e a t e or "mint" the name " M o l l F l a n d e r s " a l l o w s her lead—as life's  readers  to  tell  (among o t h e r s ) ,  to s u r v i v e by d i s g u i s i n g her i d e n t i t y which, i f known, would  i t eventually d o e s — s t r a i g h t  to the h e l l of Newgate.  Her  whole  s t o r y a t t e s t s to the t r u t h t h a t a good s t o r y , a p l a u s i b l e s t o r y , i s  more advantageous than the t r u t h :  I t was at C o l c h e s t e r i n Essex, t h a t those People l e f t me; and I have a Notion i n my Head, that I l e f t them t h e r e , ( t h a t i s , t h a t I h i d myself and wou'd not go any f a r t h e r w i t h them) but I am not a b l e to be p a r t i c u l a r i n that Account; o n l y t h i s I remember, t h a t b e i n g taken up by some of the P a r i s h O f f i c e r s of C o l c h e s t e r , I gave an Account, t h a t I came i n t o the Town w i t h the G y p s i e s , but that I would not go any f a r t h e r w i t h them, and that so they had l e f t me. (MF, p. 9)  According account  to a r e a l i s t i c view of d i s c o u r s e , M o l l ' s a b i l i t y  f o r h e r s e l f through naming a l l o w s her not  t h r i v e and  prosper  only to s u r v i v e but  as a p l a u s i b l e c h a r a c t e r - p e r s o n .  t h a t i s M o l l appears to o r i g i n a t e i n a human source  Because the and  vitality, literary  of course, conventions  actually i s .  belongs to Defoe whose appeal makes M o l l d u a l l y r e a l and  she were not w r i t t e n at a l l .  The  to  language  to d e s c r i b e a human  r e f e r e n t i t remains i n c o n s p i c i o u s as language and M o l l does not be the arrangement of words t h a t she  to  credit  appear to  for Moll's  to both c u l t u r a l  allows her  and  to appear as i f  - 36 -  Many d e t a i l s of Moll's story strengthen  the p l a u s i b i l i t y of her  personhood i n r e l a t i o n to natural and c u l t u r a l conventions.  In addition to  her inconsistencies i n thought, f e e l i n g , speech and action mentioned at the beginning of the chapter, as well as the n a t u r a l i s t i c d e t a i l s highlighted by the narrator, Defoe supplies a number of other l i f e l i k e d e t a i l s .  Moll's  a r t l e s s , matter-of-fact language, for example, appropriately f a i l s her from time to time, as i f to remind the reader that she i s not, a f t e r a l l , a consummate a r t i s t .  Speaking of the elder Colchester brother, she says:  spoke this i n so much more moving Terms than i t i s possible for me Express, and with so much greater force of Argument than I can (MF, p. 55). education. did  Moll's lack of words i s appropriate  "He  to  repeat."  to her lack of  Near the end of her story, she says: " t i l l I wrote t h i s , [I]  not know what the word Geographical s i g n i f y ' d " (MF, p.  327).  Defoe also ensures that, l i k e any other person, Moll i s capable of forgetting certain d e t a i l s of e a r l i e r incidents i n her l i f e .  The  gold  watch she gives to Humphrey and claims she has stolen "from a Gentlewoman's side, at a Meeting-House i n London" must have come from somewhere else: i n her o r i g i n a l account of that incident she says her attempt to steal i t was unsuccessful  (MF, p. 338).  Far from revealing flaws i n Defoe's a r t i s t r y as  Watt has argued, Moll's s l i p strengthens the uncontrived  a i r of her story.  Indeed, the loose chronological structure of Moll's narrative, many of whose episodes could conceivably be re-arranged without disturbing the o v e r a l l e f f e c t , appears more influenced by the v i c i s s i t u d e s of her than by any v i s i b l y l i t e r a r y or a r t i s t i c p r i n c i p l e s or aims.  life  It i s to  increase the p l a u s i b i l i t y of this i l l u s i o n that Defoe incorporates elements of picaresque  f i c t i o n into Moll's story and then, by upsetting them,  pretends even more convincingly that Moll i s not written at a l l .  - 37  Many c r i t i c s have d e t e c t e d Moll Flanders,  "picaresque"  p i c a r a , as the case may  being  -  the i n f l u e n c e of p i c a r e s q u e  "the autobiography of a p i c a r o  b e ] , a rogue, and  of the p i c a r e s q u e  literariness.  Before  (OED).  The  most  important  i n M o l l F l a n d e r s , one which transcends  as to whether " p i c a r e s q u e "  [or  i n that form a s a t i r e upon the  c o n d i t i o n s of the time t h a t g i v e s i t b i r t h " aspect  fiction in  i s an h i s t o r i c a l or formal  the  debate  term, i s i t s obvious  a l l e l s e , w r i t e s S e i b e r , the p i c a r e s q u e  i s "a  l i t e r a r y phenomenon, a work of f i c t i o n which i s concerned w i t h  the  habits  23 and  l i v e s of rogues."  The  p i c a r o , t h e r e f o r e , i s "a l i t e r a r y  f o r the p r e s e n t a t i o n of a v a r i e t y of s a t i r i c episodes  observations  and  convention comic  (emphasis mine).  E s t a b l i s h i n g M o l l Flanders facilitate  the j u d g i n g  as a p i c a r e s q u e  of M o l l as a l i t e r a r y c h a r a c t e r by r e v e a l i n g her  agency i n r e l a t i o n to the c o n v e n t i o n a l that M o l l ' s heart e x p l a i n why  she  n a r r a t i v e would  demands of the p i c a r e s q u e .  i s e s s e n t i a l l y that of the p i c a r e s q u e  heroine  Showing  might  " i n some degree escapes the bounds of everyday moral, 25  s o c i a l , and probable  p s y c h o l o g i c a l laws."  p s y c h o l o g i c a l and  Watt c o n s i d e r s drawn i t " ;  "the  I t might e x p l a i n the  s o c i a l consequences of e v e r y t h i n g  she  Watt h i m s e l f admits t h a t "the p i c a r o enjoys  those  the  does" t h a t  c e n t r a l i m p l a u s i b i l i t y of M o l l ' s c h a r a c t e r as Defoe  immunity from the deeper s t i n g s of p a i n and  D.  "freedom from  has  that charmed  death which i s accorded  to a l l  f o r t u n a t e enough to i n h a b i t the world of comedy." F u r t h e r , the 23 Harry S i e b e r , The P i c a r e s q u e , The C r i t i c a l Idiom, No. 33, Ed. John Jump (London: Methuen, 1977), p. 1. 21t  Watt, p.  105.  25  S t a r r , " I n t r o d u c t i o n , " p. Watt, p.  106.  viii.  - 38 -  picaresque interpretation of Moll Flanders would allow the comic ending of the heroine's quest for security to stand as a s a t i r e of the h y p o c r i t i c a l moral values of her society.  Defoe, however, has no intention of using  picaresque conventions to create such thematic c l a r i t y .  Nor does he intend  to make Moll more manageable as a l i t e r a r y character. Moll Flanders does, of course, bear an apparent r e l a t i o n to picaresque narrative.  Moll's story i s episodic i n structure,  autobiographical i n narrative point-of-view, and revelatory of a rogue  Who was born i n NEWGATE, and during a L i f e of continu'd Variety for Threescore Years, besides her Childhood, was Twelve Year a Whore, f i v e times a Wife (whereof once to her own Brother) Twelve Year a Thief, Eight Year a Transported Felon i n V i r g i n i a , at l a s t grew Rich, l i v ' d Honest, and died a Penitent. But, as Watt, F. W. Chandler and others have argued, few of Moll's episodes of petty thievery and deception have the contrived comic a i r of either ?7  picaresque f i c t i o n or the related semi-fictional rogue biography.  Those  episodes that do seem to owe something to picaresque f i c t i o n provide a f l e e t i n g glimpse of the charmed existence of the picara, but the rapidity with which these l i g h t moments are i r o n i c a l l y adapted  to the hard facts of  Defoe's realism suggests that Moll i s no picaresque heroine. In her rhyming courtship with her brother, for example, Moll escapes for a moment the harsh r e a l i t y of the world she inhabits, a world i n which her body becomes a piece of merchandise.  In this episode, Moll seems to  delight i n fine picaresque fashion i n her deceiving roguery.  She has her  man on the hook and she plays him through the unworldly medium of poetry.  two  See Watt, p. 119 for a discussion of the r e l a t i o n between these genres.  - 39 -  The success of her comic ruse i r o n i c a l l y leads to her despair when she discovers that the man  she has caught and by whom she has had three  children i s r e a l l y her brother.  Moll's picaresque t r i c k has led her to  v i o l a t e her own best advice and to make her own marriage, " l i k e Death, be a_ Leap i n the Dark" (MF, p. 75).  If this episode reveals anything about Moll  i t i s that she i s not a picaresque heroine inhabiting a picaresque romance world. Another episode which appears to owe  something to the picaresque  occurs when Moll i s apprehended by the mercer who mistakenly believes she has stolen from him.  Unsatisfied with her meer exculpation brought about  by the appearance of the real t h i e f , M o l l , with the help of her  governess,  proceeds to stage a play i n which she assumes the role of a gentlewoman whose pride and dignity have been wounded by the mercer's i n s u l t i n g behavior.  So successful i s Moll's acting that she f i n a l l y obtains a  settlement of some 200 1.  Aside from the elaborate staging of this coup of  deception, the picaresque element of the episode i s highlighted when Moll appears before the magistrate and obtains an a c q u i t t a l — i n spite of speaking the name of her notoriety, or at least half of i t , when she c a l l s herself "Mary Flanders."  According to the conventions of realism, Moll's  use of this name i s implausible because of the serious threat i t poses to her welfare, but according to the conventions of the picaresque, Moll can both use i t and p r o f i t by i t .  Once again, however, this charmed existence  i s short-lived: the next time she appears before the law she w i l l be sent d i r e c t l y to the h a l l Newgate, a real place of real suffering. The episode which perhaps best reveals the way  the picaresque  functions i n Moll Flanders i s the mutual deception of Moll and her Lancashire husband, Jemmy.  Even A l t e r , who  tends to stress the seriousness  - 40  of  -  the n o v e l , regards the "mutual r e v e l a t i o n of the two would-be d e c e i v e r s " 28  as "a moment of r e a l p i c a r e s q u e camaraderie."  Both M o l l and Jemmy have  d e s i g n s to marry the f o r t u n e t h a t each pretends to have.  Upon d i s c o v e r i n g  t h a t they have both been m i s l e d by a go-between, they t u r n t h e i r i n t o a comedy by p o o l i n g what l i t t l e r e t a i n a 30 1. note love.  . . .  failure  money they do have (though M o l l does  as w e l l as her t r u e name) and promptly  A f t e r Jemmy has l e f t her f o r the f i r s t  m i r a c u l o u s l y h e a r i n g M o l l c a l l i n g him  falling in  t i m e — t o return later  after  from a d i s t a n c e of twelve m i l e s — M o l l  exclaims t h a t t h i s i m p l a u s i b l e , u n r e a l i s t i c  i n c i d e n t has a f f e c t e d  her  deeply: Nothing that ever b e f e l me i n my L i f e , sunk so deep i n t o my Heart as t h i s Farewel: I reproach'd him a Thousand times i n my Thoughts f o r l e a v i n g me, f o r I would have gone w i t h him t h r o ' the World, i f I had beg'd my Bread. (MF, p. 153).  But, no sooner has she u t t e r e d these words than she r e t u r n s to her mundane, unromantic  p r e o c c u p a t i o n w i t h money:  I f e l t i n my Pocket, and t h e r e I found ten Guineas, h i s Gold Watch, and two l i t t l e R i n g s , one a s m a l l Diamond R i n g , worth o n l y about s i x Pound, and the o t h e r a p l a i n Gold R i n g . (MF, p. 153).  P a r a d o x i c a l l y , the appearance  and  immediate undermining  p i c a r e s q u e a r t i f i c e heightens the i l l u s i o n of M o l l as a r e a l i n h a b i t i n g a r e a l world. realistic  The  of  person  i r o n i c j u x t a p o s i t i o n of p i c a r e s q u e and  c o n v e n t i o n s i n the above passages make M o l l more r e a l  s u g g e s t i n g t h a t she i s not a f i c t i o n a l p i c a r e s q u e h e r o i n e and  by  s i m u l t a n e o u s l y r a i s i n g p r o b l e m a t i c q u e s t i o n s about her apparent  A l t e r , p.  72.  by  l e v e l of  - 41 -  self-consciousness or self-awareness.  This interpretation seems to be  j u s t i f i e d by the vehemence with which c r i t i c s who write on the picaresque elements of Moll Flanders stress that Moll i s not determined by them. Watt, for example, argues that Moll i s not a picara because "the essence of Defoe's f i c t i o n a l world  [is] that i t s pains, l i k e i t s pleasures, are as 29  s o l i d as those of the r e a l world."  According to A l t e r , i t i s more  "misleading than i n s t r u c t i v e to c a l l Moll Flanders a picaresque novel" because the "relaxation of e x i s t e n t i a l seriousness of the picaresque" i s missing: "In the world of Moll Flanders . . . the individual necessarily 30  converts the conduct of his l i f e into an austere d i s c i p l i n e . "  In a  s l i g h t l y d i f f e r e n t vein, Chandler argues that Defoe moves away from the picaresque narrative through his p a r t i a l subordination of incidents to character, i t s e l f the result of his "predilection for e t h i c a l studies 31  [which] had made his thought pivot upon the moral quality of every act." As Chandler's conventions  comment i l l u s t r a t e s , Defoe's use of picaresque  i n Moll Flanders s h i f t s the reader's attention from the way  In  which the novel's realism i s p a r t i a l l y created through the upsetting or transformation of t r a d i t i o n a l l i t e r a r y conventions, to the way language of the text accurately r e f l e c t s or describes r e a l i t y .  i n which the The  i l l u s i o n of Moll as a character-person depends precisely on such a s h i f t , one that i s not, i n c i d e n t a l l y , contradicted by arguing that the form of Defoe's f i c t i o n i s p a r t i a l l y determined by other r e f e r e n t i a l , descriptive  29  3 0  Watt, p.  106.  A l t e r , p. 77.  31  F. W. Chandler, The L i t e r a t u r e of Roguery, 2 vols. (New York: Houghton M i f f l i n , 1907) p. 299.  - 42  forms of d i s c o u r s e . instance,  argues  -  Such arguments are q u i t e common.  Sieber,  for  that  Defoe's s o - c a l l e d p i c a r e s q u e f i c t i o n d e r i v e s from another t r a d i t i o n as John R i c h e t t i and o t h e r s have demonstrated. The f i r s t - p e r s o n n a r r a t i v e v i e w p o i n t , the c o n c e n t r a t e d interest on crime, crime r e p o r t i n g and c o u r t s of law are a l l p a r t of the c o n v e n t i o n a l elements of c r i m i n a l b i o g r a p h i e s of the period.  And  Watt a s s e r t s t h a t : "Defoe's p l o t i n M o l l F l a n d e r s  i s c l o s e r to 33  authentic The  biography . . . than to the  biography, l i k e  the autobiography and  the d e s c r i p t i v e r a t h e r than the effect.  s e m i - f i c t i o n a l rogue b i o g r a p h y . "  L i k e a l l the  journalistic  reporting, r e l i e s  on  c r e a t i v e power of language f o r i t s  conventions of r e a l i s m used by Defoe, the  biography  places  language In the humble, i n c o n s p i c u o u s s e r v i c e of r e a l i t y and  serves  to make M o l l more r e a l as a person and  thus  l e s s manageable as a  literary  character. By  appealing  to r e a l i s t i c  language of c h a r a c t e r i l l u s i o n t h a t she object  t h a t i s M o l l d i s a p p e a r i n order  i s a r e a l person who  of t h i s language.  He  realm by i n c o r p o r a t i n g and of p i c a r e s q u e literary  character,  she  To  not  guarantees M o l l ' s  S i e b e r , p. 3 3  W a t t , p.  55. 120.  subject  the  and  the  r e l a t i v e to the  then undermining the v i s i b l y  literary  t h a t M o l l i s not a  of her n a r r a t i v e , M o l l ' s  at a l l .  Defoe's c o m p l i c i t y  n o t o r i e t y as a c h a r a c t e r - p e r s o n  32  to c r e a t e  literary  artifice  conventional  a w r i t t e n arrangment of words f u n c t i o n i n g as i t s  the end  i s a character  i s at once the  cements t h i s i l l u s i o n  f i c t i o n , thus s u g g e s t i n g  author's agent. that  c o n v e n t i o n s , Defoe e f f e c t i v e l y makes the  greatest in this  secret i s  secret  whose autonomy p e r m i t s  her to account for herself and to demand explanations of those who would attempt to usurp her right to do so. As the attacks on Defoe's artistry indicate, the cost of creating the illusion of the autonomous character-person i s high and most novelists are not interested in incurring i t . In Middlemarch, for example, George Eliot subordinates the illusion of the character-person to her thematic and a r t i s t i c intentions.  She visibly uses Will Ladislaw to t e l l her story and,  in doing so, reveals him as a character-agent whose function i s partially determined by the romance conventions she intends to upset.  Whereas Defoe  subordinates completely the undermining of picaresque conventions to the illusion of reality he wants to create, Eliot acknowledges more openly the extent to which the language of character i s determined or influenced by its relation to the literary realm.  She comes much closer than Defoe to  revealing character as a literary arrangement of words.  CHAPTER 3 WILL LADISLAW AS  CHARACTER-AGENT  W i l l Ladislaw does not enjoy the same "authority of existence" as the autonomous character-person, Moll Flanders. to t e l l his own  1  Far from allowing W i l l  story, E l i o t uses Ladislaw as an agent who  of romance hero, a role v i s i b l y determined she upsets and parodies i n Middlemarch. agent, whose role i s determined  plays the role  by the very romance conventions  The appearance of the character-  by the words of l i t e r a t u r e rather than by  the facts of l i f e , undermines the autonomy of the character-person by i n i t i a t i n g a s h i f t i n perspective from the mimetic to the creative power of language, from the world to the word, from a r e a l i s t i c view of character to a r e a l i s t i c view of discourse.  In the process, the language of character  that i s W i l l loses a measure of i t s transparency and begins to appear as a "cluster of s i g n s " — b o t h poetic and p r o s a i c — c r e a t e d through an elaborate a r t i f i c e of naming orchestrated by E l i o t through the mediums of her 2  characters.  W i l l ' s function as a character-agent precludes the  p o s s i b i l i t y of reading him solely as a character-person.  Critics  who  forget that he i s a verbal construct which conforms to a combination of l i t e r a r y and c u l t u r a l conventions are apt to regard W i l l Ladislaw as a "failure." At their most naive, the objections to W i l l Ladislaw take the form of a moral disapproval of his character i n r e l a t i o n to that of the heroine, ^ u e n t i n Anderson, "George E l i o t i n Middlemarch," Middlemarch: A Selection of C r i t i c a l Essays, ed. Patrick Swinden (London: Macmillan Press, 1972), p. 184. 2  105.  George E l i o t , Middlemarch (Boston: Houghton M i f f l i n Co., Further references w i l l follow quotations i n the text.  1956), p.  Dorothea.  Like S i r James Chettam, one early c r i t i c of the novel objects 3  that Ladislaw does not seem at a l l "worthy of the woman he wins."  In the  words of another early reviewer of the novel: It i s not easy to l i k e young Ladislaw; one i s tempted to think that, i n marrying him, Dorothea makes nearly as great a blunder as she did i n marrying Casaubon. How much pleasanter would i t have been for Lydgate to be her husband? Such c r i t i c s find j u s t i f i c a t i o n for their views i n Will's d i l e t t a n t i s h behavior, his petulant rebelliousness, h i s lack of d i s c i p l i n e and strength.  Dorothea, so the argument runs, i s a remarkable woman with high  ideals and a generous nature; she deserves better than W i l l , whose character, according to Henry James, i s "insubstantial." S l i g h t l y more sophisticated c r i t i c i s m s of Will's character tend to blend into objections, not of his character, but of him as_ a character. Employing the familiar analogy  between character-creating and  portrait-drawing, an early c r i t i c of the novel comments on "a certain indistinctness about [Will's] p i c t u r e . "  5  Using the same metaphor, Henry  James pronounces the insubstantial character of the hero a f a i l u r e : " i t lacks sharpness of outline and depth of colour; we have not found ourselves believing i n Ladislaw as we believe in Dorothea. . . . He remains vague and impalpable to the end."  James's use of metaphor i s revealing: n o v e l i s t i c  prose should provide images so clear and concrete that they become  Frederick Napier Broome, rev. of Middlemarch by George E l i o t , (1873), r p t . i n George E l i o t and Her Readers: A Selection of Contemorary Reviews, eds. Holmstrom and Lerner (London: Bodley Head, 1966), p. 110. Rev. of Middlemarch by George E l i o t , The Examiner, 7 December 1972, George E l i o t and Her Readers, p. 87. 5  Broome, p. 110.  - 46 -  "palpable."  He says as much when he evaluates Middlemarch as a  "treasure-house  of d e t a i l s " and praises i t s " s o l i d i t y of s p e c i f i c a t i o n . "  6  According to James, the language of character must give us a clear picture of the human personality. James does not say, i n l i t e r a r y terms, exactly why Ladislaw's p o r t r a i t lacks presence.  Gordon Haight r i g h t l y suggests that " i f Ladislaw  i s to be regarded as unrealized or non-existent, i t cannot be on grounds of 7  his appearance."  Indeed, the description of Ladislaw's appearance i s f a r  more detailed and s p e c i f i c than that of Moll Flanders, whose eyes, nose, hair and skin are never described at a l l — a dissuade c r i t i c s of her r e a l i t y .  fact which has done l i t t l e to  The reason James provides no l i t e r a r y  explanation for Will's " f a i l u r e " i s that none exists unless we accept a r e a l i s t i c , "palpable" p o r t r a i t of a masculine  fellow as the sole standard  by which W i l l can be judged as a l i t e r a r y character. Such confusion of l i t e r a r y and c u l t u r a l conventions explanations of Will's f a i l u r e .  typifies  Arnold Kettle, for example, argues that  W i l l i s an a r t i s t i c f a i l u r e because of George E l i o t ' s f a i l u r e to understand and convey, i n r e a l i s t i c terms, the nature of his social position: The a r t i s t i c f a i l u r e of George E l i o t with Ladislaw, her f a i l u r e to make him a figure realised on the a r t i s t i c l e v e l of the other characters of the novel, i s inseparable from the s o c i a l unrealism i n his conception. A r t i s t i c a l l y he i s not 'there , not concrete, because s o c i a l l y he i s not concrete, but i d e a l i s e d . 1  Henry James, rev. of Middlemarch by George E l i o t , The Galaxy, March 1873; r p t . i n George E l i o t : The C r i t i c a l Heritage, ed. David C a r o l l (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1971), pp. 356, 353. 7  Gordon S. Haight, "George E l i o t ' s 'Emminent Failure,' W i l l Ladislaw," This P a r t i c u l a r Web: Essays on Middlemarch, ed. Ian Adam (Toronto: U of T Press, 1975), p. 24.  - 47 -  In Kettle's opinion, Ladislaw does not correspond to the "facts" of V i c t o r i a n society: Middlemarch i s a wonderfully r i c h and i n t e l l i g e n t book and i t s richness l i e s i n a consideration of i n d i v i d u a l characters firmly placed i n an actual s o c i a l s i t u a t i o n ( i t i s because Ladislaw i s never thus placed but remains a romantic dream-figure that he i s a f a i l u r e ) . Like James and K e t t l e , F. R. Leavis believes that the task of the novelist i s to be r e a l i s t i c i n her character-portrayal, and that W i l l Ladislaw i s a f a i l e d creation.  Leavis, however, does not attribute the  f a i l u r e to the unreality of his s o c i a l position; rather, he views W i l l , l i k e Dorothea, as "a product of E l i o t ' s own ideal self."  According  soul-hunger—another day-dream  to Leavis, W i l l does not "exist" because he i s a  projection of the author's desire and i s therefore indistinguishable from her own  personality: In f a c t , [Will] has no independent status of his own—he can't be said to e x i s t ; he merely represents, not a dramatically real point of view, but certain of George E l i o t ' s i n t e n t i o n s — i n t e n t i o n s she has f a i l e d to r e a l i z e c r e a t i v e l y . The most important of these i s to impose on the reader her own v i s i o n and valuation of Dorothea. W i l l , of course, i s also i n t e n d e d — i t i s not r e a l l y a separate m a t t e r — t o be, i n contrast to Casaubon, a f i t t i n g soul-mate for Dorothea. He i s not substantially (everyone agrees) 'there', but we can see well enough what kind of q u a l i t i e s and attractions are intended. . . . George E l i o t ' s valuation of W i l l Ladislaw, i n s h o r t , i s Dorothea's, just as W i l l ' s of Dorothea i s George E l i o t ' s . g  Arnold K e t t l e , An Introduction to the English Novel, 2 v o l s . (London, 1951; rpt. New York: Harper & Row, 1968), pp. 176, 168. F. R. Leavis, The Great T r a d i t i o n (New 75.  York: NYU  Press, 1960), p.  - 48 -  Both L e a v i s character,  and  K e t t l e attempt to e x p l a i n the f a i l u r e of L a d i s l a w ' s  or h i s f a i l u r e as a c h a r a c t e r ,  by  reaching  l i t e r a t u r e to the c u l t u r a l realm of p o l i t i c s and presumes t h a t E l i o t rigour; Leavis  should  be a s o c i a l  complains that she  from her  creation.  novelist  and  has  Both p r e f e r to c a l l  a novel  psychology: K e t t l e  s c i e n t i s t and failed  beyond the bounds of  c r i t i c i z e s her  to detach h e r s e l f  i n t o question  they g r e a t l y admire r a t h e r  lack of  sufficiently  the a r t i s t r y of a  than abandon t h e i r narrow  c o n v i c t i o n t h a t r e a l i s m i s the o n l y c o n v e n t i o n a g a i n s t which W i l l can  be  judged.  T h e i r r e a l i s t i c view f a i l s  a  literary  character  The  or Middlemarch as a l i t e r a r y work.  e r r o r of L e a v i s  b a s i s of r e a l i s t i c  and  K e t t l e i n judging  Watt, who  cannot account f o r M o l l F l a n d e r s  question  the  reading  a p h y s i c a l and  from the  than—  Defoe's a r t i s t r y because they  on a s i m i l a r b a s i s .  Of  course, l i k e  Middlemarch: A Study of P r o v i n c i a l L i f e p a r t i a l l y  their r e a l i s t i c describe  L a d i s l a w s o l e l y on  convention i s s i m i l a r t o — t h o u g h l e s s j u s t i f i e d  the e r r o r of Schorer and  Flanders,  to account f o r e i t h e r L a d i s l a w as  encourages  s t a r t , by a p p e a r i n g to r e f e r to and  h i s t o r i c a l r e a l i t y beyond the  town i n the England of the F i r s t Reform B i l l .  But,  Moll  to  text: a p r o v i n c i a l  unlike Moll Flanders,  a  work whose l i t e r a r i n e s s i s a c a r e f u l l y guarded s e c r e t , Middlemarch abounds with signs  that a d v e r t i s e  the d i v i s i o n of the n o v e l "Sunset and  the n o v e l ' s l i t e r a r y n a t u r e .  i n t o e i g h t books, whose t i t l e s — " O l d  Sunrise"—often  suggest intended  a r t i c u l a t e c e n t r a l thematic d i c h o t o m i e s . F i n a l e frame e i g h t y - s i x c h a p t e r s , to an i m p l i e d mention the  and  literary juxtaposition  include Young," and  In a d d i t i o n , the P r e l u d e and  the  each b e g i n n i n g w i t h an e p i g r a p h a l l u d i n g  or a s p e c i f i c work of l i t e r a t u r e .  countless  These s i g n s  a l l u s i o n s i n the  A l l of these s i g n s , not  t e x t to the works of  Shakespeare,  to  - 49 -  Goethe, and Scott among many others, p u l l the reader's attention from the r e a l i t y of nineteenth century-England  to the l i t e r a r y realm in which  Ladislaw i s a character-agent with a s p e c i f i c role to play. E l i o t uses Ladislaw as the agent of her intention to upset and parody the imaginative world of romance whose idealism and heroism have no place in the r e a l i t y of i n d u s t r i a l England, i n the "pinched narrowness of provincial l i f e . "  In order to r e a l i z e her intention, she makes W i l l play  the role of a romance hero who  combines elements of the primitive or  "naive" hero of early romance with elements of the later "sentimental" re-creation of that type: the Romantic hero of the early nineteenth century.  10  The above excerpts from the c r i t i c i s m of Leavis and Kettle  prove these writers are aware of the romance associations surrounding W i l l , but their insistence on reading him as a r e a l i s t i c charcter-person prevents them from interpreting these signs as a v i t a l aspect of Will's function as a character-agent. Not s u r p r i s i n g l y , Leavis and Kettle also f a i l  to perceive the way i n  which the appearance of the character-agent encourages a s h i f t i n perspective from a r e a l i s t i c view of character to a r e a l i s t i c view of discourse.  According to the former, W i l l i s a person whose romantic  (and  therefore u n r e a l i s t i c ) i n c l i n a t i o n s force him to struggle against the common pettiness of the "prosaic neighborhood of Middlemarch." to  According  the l a t t e r , a view E l i o t appears to authorize through her l i t e r a r y  metaphor, W i l l i s a character-agent assigned the role of romance hero which forces him to struggle against the prosaic medium of Middlemarch.  The  character-person and the character-agent meet i n the figure of the romance Northrop Frye, Anatomy of C r i t i c i s m (Princeton: PUP, Further references w i l l follow quotations i n the text. 10  35.  1957), p.  - 50 -  hero.  As E l i o t moves this hero through a series of parodic quest cycles  and e x p l i c i t l y sets him on and knocks him off his horse by tagging him with the poetic signs of romance and the prosaic signs of realism respectively, W i l l begins to emerge as a l i t e r a r y construct, a cluster of signs determined and informed by the l i t e r a r y realm of which the language of character i s a part. Northrop Frye i d e n t i f i e s the complete  form of the romance as the  successful adventure or quest, to which there are three main stages: the stage of the perilous journey and the preliminary minor adventures, the agon or c o n f l i c t ; the stage of the c r u c i a l struggle in which either the hero or his foe must die, the pathos or death struggle; and the stage of the exaltation of the hero, even i f he does not survive the c o n f l i c t , the anagnorisis or recognition.  In this c o n f l i c t , the hero's enemy i s  associated with winter, darkness, confusion, s t e r i l i t y , moribund l i f e and old age, and the hero with spring, dawn, order, f e r t i l i t y and youth (Anat., pp. 187-88). E l i o t ' s description of Ladislaw as a young man whose "bushy l i g h t brown c u r l s , as well as his youthfulness, i d e n t i f i e d him at once with Celia's apparition" assigns him his role of romance hero at the beginning of the novel (M, p. 58).  Will's youth contrasts sharply with Casaubon's  age, which i d e n t i f i e s the dusty pedant, for his part, as the enemy: Mrs. Cadwallader c a l l s him "'a death's head skinned over'"; S i r James says he has "'one  foot i n the grave'" (M, p. 67).  As the conventional enemy of the  hero, Casaubon i s i d e n t i f i e d with the s t e r i l i t y of the land over which he presides, Lowick Manor and, by extension, the provincial society of Middlemarch. The narrator makes this connection e x p l i c i t at the time of Dorothea's v i s i t to her future home:  - 51 -  In this l a t t e r end of autumn, with a sparse remnant of yellow leaves f a l l i n g slowly athwart the dark evergreens i n a s t i l l n e s s without sunshine, the house too had an a i r of autumnal decline, and Mr. Casaubon, when he presented himself, had no bloom that could be thrown into r e l i e f by that background. (M, p. 54)  The reference to Will's "light-brown" hair i s the f i r s t of many examples of l i g h t imagery indicating that the hero embodies a displaced sun-god myth t y p i c a l of the hero of romance.  According to Brooke (who i s  wrong about so many things, but p o s i t i v e l y oracular when i t comes to W i l l ) , Ladislaw i s "'trying his wings,'" he i s "'just the sort of young fellow to r i s e ' " (M, p. 241).  In the words of another Middlemarcher, few of whom are  noted for their high opinions of others, W i l l i s a " b r i l l i a n t young fellow" (M, p. 262).  Once again, the narrator makes this analogy e x p l i c i t :  W i l l Ladislaw's smile was d e l i g h t f u l , unless you were angry with him beforehand: i t was a gush of inward l i g h t illuminating the transparent skin as well as the eyes, and playing about every curve and l i n e as i f some A r i e l were touching them with a new charm. (M, p. 152)  The ethereal, unworldly quality associated with the l i g h t imagery through the a l l u s i o n to Shakespeare's sprite i n the above passage accords n i c e l y with the description of W i l l as Celia's "apparition" (specter, phantom, ghost).  The hero's impalpable quality, and the mystery  surrounding his f i r s t appearance, are accentuated by the mystery of his o r i g i n s , another convention of romance comedy: The anagnorisis i n [romance] comedy, i n which the characters find out who their r e l a t i v e s are, and who i s l e f t of the opposite sex not a r e l a t i v e , and hence available for marriage, i s one of the features of comedy that have never changed much. (Anat., p. 170)  - 52 -  Generally (as i n Tom Jones), the hero turns out to be of nobler blood than he has appeared to be. Thus, the mysterious origins of the hero constitute a reserve of potential or promise.  And the question of who the hero i s ,  genealogically speaking, i s related to the question of who he i s on the l e v e l of personality or character, which explains why, i n romance,  the character of the successful hero i s so often l e f t undeveloped: his real l i f e begins at the end of the [novel], and we have to believe him to be p o t e n t i a l l y a more Interesting character than he appears to be. (Anat., p. 169) Romance, according to Frye, " i s nearest of a l l l i t e r a r y forms to the wish-fulfilment dream" according to which "the quest-romance i s the search of the l i b i d o or desiring self for a fulfilment that w i l l deliver i t from the anxieties of r e a l i t y but w i l l s t i l l contain that r e a l i t y " (Anat., pp. 186, 193).  Thus, the hero's character i s l e f t undeveloped so as to possess  "the n e u t r a l i t y that enables him to represent a wish-fulfilment." This convention appears i n comedies and romances from Plautus's Casina, "where the hero and heroine are not even brought on the stage at a l l , " to Dickens, where "the interesting characters are often grouped around a somewhat d u l l i s h pair of technical leads," to Tom Jones, whose very name suggests "the conventional and t y p i c a l " (Anat., p. 167).  Both Leavis and Kettle  mention s p e c i f i c a l l y that W i l l represents a kind of wish-fulfilment, but Gordon Haight i s one of the few c r i t i c s who perceive the nature and significance of the convention involved; he draws an analogy between Ladislaw and Scott's romantic heroes, many of whom are "mild, dreamy youths, thrown by chance into adventures  i n which they play largely passive  - 53 -  roles."  Most of ladislaw's c r i t i c s , however, f a i l to understand  that he  i s not quite "there" because he Is, at least i n part, a romance hero; Lydgate actually likens W i l l to a character "dropped out of a romantic comedy" (M, p. 364). Although the signs of his mysterious  o r i g i n s , of his r e l a t i v e l y  undeveloped character, of his youth and ethereal lightness, i d e n t i f y him as a romantic hero, Will's position In the innocent world of romance i s threatened by a number of comments, epithets and allusions voiced by the narrator or other characters, which draw him toward the world of experience.  The point between these two extremes i s occupied by the  Romantic hero, a recognizably l i t e r a r y type whose desiring s e l f inhabits the wildest reaches of the imagination, and holds the real world i n contempt. Will's rebellious retreat from r e a l i t y i s mentioned by Casaubon, who says that the youngster  c a l l s himself "Pegasus, and every form of  prescribed work 'harness'"  (M, p. 60).  Again according to Casaubon, as  this mythological beast of imagination, the favoured of the Muses, W i l l i s so far "from having any desire for a more accurate knowledge of the earth's surface, that he said he should prefer not to know the sources of the N i l e , and that there should be some unknown regions preserved as hunting-grounds for the poetic imagination." (M, p. 60) The hero's rejection of r e a l i t y in favour of the worlds of the imagination, his  pouting and petulant manner, his d i l e t t a n t i s h and hedonistic attitude  toward l i f e , his experimentation with opium, alcohol, and sumptuous food, his  work as an a r t i s t , a l l label W i l l as a Romantic hero.  1  h a i g h t , p. 38.  - 54 -  When Ladislaw i s away i n Europe, the narrator e x p l i c i t l y refers to the Romantic movement beginning to make i t s e l f f e l t around 1831, that W i l l frequents the long-haired a r t i s t s who belong to i t . confirms Brooke's e a r l i e r remark that W i l l may  stating  She  thus  turn out "'a Byron, a  Chatterton, a C h u r c h i l l , ' " and his l a t e r comparison of the young man "Shelley" (M, pp. 60, 263).  to  Brooke's i n f e l i c i t o u s e r r o r — a t twenty-one,  W i l l had already lived three years longer than Chatterton who died a tragic death at the age of eighteen—should suggest that these allusions are not to be taken solely as accurate h i s t o r i c a l references to these Romantic poets as men.  The early allusions to Pegasus, poetry and the imagination  a l l point to the fact that these poets captured the imagination of Europe, even Brooke's, because they somehow managed to embody their own poetic myths.  Byron consciously played the part of Childe Harold and Don Juan,  Shelley, referred to i n one of Browning's poems as "sun-treader," embodied the i n t e n s i t y of a Promethean figure.  According to Frye, i n the period of  Romanticism, the poet becomes what the f i c t i o n a l hero was In the age of romance, an extraordinary person who l i v e s in a higher and more imaginative experience than that of nature. He creates his own world, a world which reproduces many of the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of f i c t i o n a l romance. (Anat., p. 59) By the time W i l l departs from Middlemarch, the weight of the r e a l i t y of that provincial town has pulled the hero down from the heights of romance to the point where he must play the part of the Romantic hero, rebel, and leave i n quest of the lost world of romance.  In terms of the  discourse, the hero has been subjected to conventions of realism, which are always a threat: i f E l i o t chooses to make his environment r e a l , and the dreary November days c h i l l i n g l y cold, then the romance hero i s in trouble.  -  55 -  E l i o t hints as much when she i r o n i c a l l y foreshadows at  the young hero's fate  the beginning of the chapter describing his departure from  Middlemarch:  He had catched a great cold, had he had no other clothes to wear than the skin of a bear not yet k i l l e d . —Fuller (M, p. 61) The narrator's remark that W i l l ' s experiments with opium and alcohol had resulted i n "nothing o r i g i n a l " strengthens the author's suggestion that W i l l may not l i v e up to his role of romantic hero, but she s t i l l allows f o r the p o s s i b i l i t y that W i l l may r i s e to the stature of hero when she describes him as one of the world's "hopeful analogies and handsome dubious eggs called p o s s i b i l i t i e s " (M, p. 61). And, well aware that such p o s s i b i l i t i e s exist only i n the hopeful realm of "grand presentiment," she r e f r a i n s from over-indulging i n speculation, i n attempts to name or to know Will's actual p o t e n t i a l . summarily  She frees the hero from further scrutiny by  sending him off to Europe:  Let him start for the Continent, then, without our pronouncing on his future. Among a l l forms of mistake, prophecy i s the most gratuitous. (M, p. 62) In  this way, the narrator s i g n i f i e s her awareness that further speculation  on W i l l ' s future would be a narrative mistake, since the hero can thrive only i f his future i s l e f t as f u l l of promise, as mysteriously vague, as his  past.  Only with the beginning and end of h i s l i f e free from the bonds  of  time and history can the hero thrive i n the realm of "once upon a time."  At  the same time, by sending her hero o f f to the protection of the  continent, beyond the range of the harsh Middlemarch  stage, E l i o t reveals  Will's function as a character-agent whose movement, words, whose very arrangement as a cluster of signs, are determined by the a r t i s t i c demands of the novel.  - 56 -  The hero's journey or agon, which begins i n the c h i l l November, takes him eventually to Rome, a c i t y of stupendous art and architecture warmly lighted by the glow of past glory and empire—a ground for the poetic imagination.  perfect hunting  There, far from the unfriendly medium  of Middlemarch, W i l l reaches his zenith as a romantic hero.  There,  Dorothea i s also raised to the heights as the object of the hero's worship, an "angel," a "Saint" (M, pp. 155, 160).  But the more the narrator  recounts of W i l l ' s thoughts and actions, especially during his meetings with Dorothea, the more she reveals the f r a g i l i t y of the hero's l i t e r a r y position and the degree to which i t i s vulnerable to harsh words and images. Ladislaw (functioning as E l i o t ' s mouthpiece), demonstrates more insight into the conventions of romance than many of his c r i t i c s by objecting to Naumann's intentions to paint his mistress and render i n concrete d e t a i l what must be l e f t ethereal.  In other words, what James and  Leavis regard as the shortcoming of E l i o t ' s p o r t r a i t of Ladislaw, W i l l i d e n t i f i e s as c r u c i a l to romance.  This prompts him to warn Naumann:  you want to express too much with your painting. You would only have made a better or worse p o r t r a i t with a background which every connoisseur would give a d i f f e r e n t reason for or against. And what i s the p o r t r a i t of a woman? Your painting and P l a s t i k are poor stuff after a l l . They perturb and d u l l conceptions instead of r a i s i n g them. Language i s a f i n e r medium. (M, pp. 141-2) Painting lowers the heroine by making her image concrete and, as W i l l ' s discussion of background suggests, placing her in a s p e c i f i c r e l a t i o n to the world that i s subject to rational debate.  Such r e l a t i o n or connection  w i l l not do i n romance: i f Dorothea i s to be worshipped position beyond the worldly context.  she must occupy a  W i l l understands this perfectly well:  - 57 -  "Language gives a f u l l e r image, which i s the better for being vague. After a l l , the true seeing i s within; and painting stares at you with an insistent imperfection. I f e e l that especially about representations of women". (M, p. 142)  Language may well be the finer medium, but not always i n the sense that W i l l imagines: just as the s e n s i b i l i t i e s of the character-person are offended by the concrete image, so the character-agent can be made to wince under the burden of vulgar, common language:  No sooner did Naumannn mention any d e t a i l of Dorothea's beauty, than W i l l got exasperated at his presumption: there was a grossness i n his choice of the most ordinary words. . . . the ordinary phrases which might apply to mere bodily prettiness were not applicable to her. (Certainly a l l Tipton and i t s neighbourhood, as well as Dorothea herself, would have been surprised at her beauty being made so much of. In that part of the world Miss Brooke had been only a "fine young woman". (M, p. 161)  The ordinary words, phrases and d e t a i l s of Naumann's prosiac language are as incompatible with W i l l ' s romance world i n Rome as the unimaginative, unpoetic, prose of the Middlemarchers who view Dorothea as a woman among other women: C e l i a profanes W i l l ' s d i v i n i t y by r e f e r r i n g to her as "Dodo." In the same way that W i l l ' s romance i s shaken when Naumann refers to Dorothea as his aunt, so Dorothea's imaginings of marriage—that state of "higher d u t i e s " — w i t h her "archangel" Casaubon are shattered by what the narrator describes as "Celia's pretty carnally-minded  prose":  "Her reverie was broken . . . by Celia's small and rather guttural voice speaking i n i t s usual tone" (M, pp. 30, 17, 35). Both hero and heroine are threatened by the concrete image, the vulgar v i s i o n created by carnally-minded prose which, through i t s insistance on petty physical d e t a i l , i t s uncontrollable appetite for naming, tends to make both of them,  - 58 -  as well as the world they inhabit, too narrowly real for comfort. I r o n i c a l l y , the a r r i v a l of his heroine i n Rome resubmits the hero to the prosaic conditions of the world he has t r i e d to escape. Having become "one" with Casaubon i n the matrimonial bond, Dorothea represents the blood relations which bind Ladislaw to the family of Middlemarch with a l l i t s unpleasant hierarchies and obligations. his  During  meetings with Dorothea, Will's debt to his benefactor, Casaubon,  becomes a painful r e a l i t y .  And, just as serious, Dorothea eliminates the  hero's freedom from Middlemarch  time—"When George the Fourth was  still  reigning over the privacies of Windsor"—by placing this freedom i n r e l a t i o n to the business of l i f e in p r o v i n c i a l England: the narrator us that she was  tells  "rather shocked at [Will's] mode of taking a l l l i f e as a  holiday" (M, pp. 139,  153).  Once Dorothea had played her part i n placing W i l l i n r e l a t i o n to Middlemarch, he begins to understand his own situation.  He sees that  Casaubon i s not the archetypal, mythological dragon of romance, but "something more unmanageable than a dragon: he was a benefactor with c o l l e c t i v e society at his back" (M, p. 155).  Will's ultimate  acknowledgement of the r e a l i t y of existence that Dorothea's and Casaubon's v i s i t to Rome represents comes when he states his intention to do what no romance hero can safely do: namely, to get a job i n order to earn his daily bread.  According to the conventions of realism, of course, his reasons for  doing so are as v a l i d as they are contradictory and complex: every man must work to eat, but exactly how a man harnesses himself to a job i n order to be free i s a paradox that the most talented apologists of capitalism have been hard-pressed to answer.  Such venal complications constitute a tangle  of mundane concerns that drag the romance hero down from his c e l e s t i a l heights.  -  59  -  Our last glimpse of W i l l i n Rome leaves no doubt that E l i o t intends us to keep i n mind the increasingly i r o n i c connection between him and the romance hero .  The narrator comments on Will's comparison of Dorothea to a  poem by saying that he shows "such o r i g i n a l i t y as we a l l share with the morning and the springtime and other endless renewals"  (M, p. 166).  In  addition to i d e n t i f y i n g the hero with the r i s i n g sun, she r e c a l l s our attention to the archetypal battle between the young hero and the old enemy: Casaubon's return at the end of Book Two,  appropriately e n t i t l e d  "Old and Young," physically separates the hero from the object of his desire and Casaubon coolly remarks to his ardent bride that they need not "'discuss [Will's] future course'" (M, p. 167).  From the moment he  disappears from the reader's sight i n Rome u n t i l he surfaces again i n Middlemarch, the romantic hero recuperates a measure of his lost lustre because he represents the reader's wish-fulfillment desire for a mate for Dorothea.  In the black and white world of romance, the only other choice  i s to favour Casaubon, whose habit of saying "my  love when his manner was  the coldest" makes this impossible (M, p. 167). E l i o t expresses Ladislaw's renewed vigour by making his return correspond with the seasonal r i s i n g of the sun i n spring.  She brings the  hero home from his journey before he has been able to engage in the pathos or death-struggle; i r o n i c a l l y , his enemy has been at home a l l along.  In  one sense, the enemy i s Casaubon and the society he represents; i n another sense, i t i s the r e a l i s t i c prose of the study.  The goal of E l i o t ' s study  i s to shed l i g h t on, and provide a clear view of, the "various entanglements,  weights, blows, clashings, motions by which things severally  go on" i n Middlemarch (M, p. 216).  Its primary convention i s that, through  close observation and precise r e f e r e n t i a l language, a physical r e a l i t y w i l l  - 60 -  be f a i t h f u l l y and sincerely described.  W i l l ' s return to Middlemarch places  him under the harsh l i g h t and powerful lens of observation of the narrator: Even with a microscope directed on a water-drop we find ourselves making interpretations which turn out to be rather coarse; for whereas under a weak lens you may seem to see a creature exhibiting an active voracity into which other small creatures a c t i v e l y play as i f they were so many animated tax-pennies, a stronger lens reveals to you certain t i n i e s t h a i r l e t s which make vortices for these victims while the swallower waits passively at his receipt of custom. (M, p. 44)  As t h i s i r o n i c foreshadowing of W i l l ' s fate suggests, the conventions of the study do not bode well for the romantic hero; under their l i g h t he must surely gather "the faultiness of closer acquaintanceship" (M, p. 71).  Even Rosamond knows that i n "romance i t [is]  not necessary to imagine much about the inward l i f e of the hero, or of his serious business i n the world" (M, p. 123).  The language of the study,  however, i s concerned with nothing but the hero's serious business i n the world.  W i l l ' s descent from the poetic ideal of the romance hero, already  begun i n Rome, gains momemtum the moment he sets foot in the "prosaic neighbourhood  of Middlemarch" (M, p. 236).  Mrs. Cadwallader's cutting tongue immediately drags W i l l down from the heights of Brooke's r i s i n g star to refer to him as "'a very pretty s p r i g . . . . one who can write speeches'" (M, p.241).  Brooke himself  corroborates this f a l l by dropping his e a r l i e r i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of W i l l with the Romantic poet/heroes of Byron, Chatterton, and C h u r c h i l l , replacing i t with a much more worldly t r i o of writers: "'He would make a good secretary, now,  l i k e Hobbes, Milton, S w i f t — t h a t sort of man'"  (M, p.241).  Later,  Brooke refers to W i l l as "'a kind of Shelley,'" meaning the statesman not the Promethean poet (M, p. 263).  According to Brooke, W i l l has "the same  - 61 -  sort of enthusiasm guidance—under  for l i b e r t y , freedom, emancipation—a  guidance you know.  fine thing under  I think I s h a l l be able to put him on  the right tack" (M, p. 263). The hero's descent from the metaphorical to the l i t e r a l , from the poetic to the prosaic, finds perfect expression when W i l l stoops to taking a job as a lowly newspaper man.  In doing so, he harnesses himself to the  epitome of carnally-minded prose.  In i t s business of reporting the facts  and exposing relations of scandal, the newspaper, more than any other l i t e r a r y form, i s bound to the hard facts of l i f e , to the ticking of the clock, to the "sordid present" of the day.  When W i l l begins work on the  newspaper he descends to the low rung of "those newspaper fellows" whose very names, l i k e "Keck," are an affront to the ear (M, p. 278).  His  i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with the newspaper also places him i n an incongruously antagonistic r e l a t i o n to Dorothea, described by E l i o t on the f i r s t page of the novel as having the "impressiveness of a fine quotation from the Bible . . . i n a paragraph of to-day's newspaper" (M, p. 5).  Unlike that of the  newspaper, the language of the Bible operates on a variety of l i t e r a l , metaphorical, a l l e g o r i c a l and anagogical l e v e l s ; i t does not ignore the history of real events, but i t subordinates these to a s p i r i t u a l truth that transcends human r e a l i t y .  Whereas the language of the Bible  encourages the reader to see beyond the world, that of the newspaper brings the reader, as well as the subject, down to earth.  The language of the  newspaper, however, can incorporate B i b l i c a l language as surely as Middlemarch can incorporate i t s i d e a l i s t i c c i t i z e n s : E l i o t ' s l i t e r a r y signs keep drawing our attention back to the l i t e r a r y realm i n which W i l l , as result of the names i d e n t i f i e d with him, i s becoming an increasingly prosiac cluster of signs.  W i l l ' s association with the newspaper and i t s  a  - 62 -  vulgar interests appropriately subjects him to the gossip of h i s neighbors, to the "speech v o r t i c e s " of Mrs. Cadwallader and others who hungry birds on this verbal sustenance.  feed l i k e  As Sir James says:  "I find he's i n everybody's mouth i n Middlemarch as the editor of the 'Pioneer'. There are stories going about him as a q u i l l - d r i v i n g a l i e n , a foreign emissary, and what not. (M, p. 278)  As a l i t e r a r y character, Ladislaw i s determined and made known to the reader through naming, whether he appears to name himself through his own words, or to be named by other characters or the narrator.  The gossip  of other characters conforms to the same paradigm as the naming of the n a r r a t o r — b o t h can highlight either W i l l ' s i l l u s o r y l i f e as a character-person, or his l i t e r a r y l i f e as an arrangement of verbal signs. W i l l ' s i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with newspaper prose does not prevent E l i o t from re-assigning him the role of romance hero, which i s exactly what she does when she describes W i l l ' s resolution to stay i n Middlemarch i n spite of the "fire-breathing dragons [that] might hiss around [Dorothea],"  to defy  Casaubon's ban and to travel to Lowick church to worship his heroine p.  (M,  344). As Ladislaw makes his way  to the church, the narrator re-introduces  the familiar l i g h t imagery: Sometimes, when he took o f f his hat, shaking his head backward, and showing his delicate throat as he sang, he looked l i k e an incarnation of the spring whose s p i r i t f i l l e d the a i r — a bright creature abundant i n uncertain promises. (M, p. 345)  At this r e l a t i v e l y late stage in the narrative, W i l l ' s "uncertain promises" are perhaps not as l i m i t l e s s as they at f i r s t appeared, but the narrator  - 63 -  compensates for any troublesome detail in this regard by endowing him with a touch of "the mysterious rapport with nature that so often marks the central figure of romance" (Anat., p. 197): the sunlight f e l l broadly under the budding boughs, bringing out the beauties of moss and lichen, and fresh green growths piercing the brown. Everything seemed to know that i t was Sunday, and to approve of his going to Lowick church. (M, P. 345) The romance conventions highlighted as the hero makes his way to church set the stage for a crucial struggle between these and the conventions of realism. As he makes his way to church, imagining future events, Will experiments with tunes for a lyric he has composed.  Barbara Hardy points  out that this poem i s "the one lyric of the novel, a fragile flight of feeling caught in the great prose narrative."  Although the poem, like  Ladislaw, shows signs of being infected with the "prosaic medium" of Middlemarch, i t s t i l l stands out from the rest of the novel: 0 me, 0 me, what frugal cheer My love doth feed upon! A touch, a ray, that i s not here, A shadow that i s gone . . . . (M, p. 345) Hardy's comments on the lyric are surprisingly applicable to the romantic hero: The hinge on which this chapter turns is the 'uncertain promise.' Will is residing in his passionate moment, framing and forming i t through l y r i c , and George Eliot seems to question and define the nature of his poetic medium by placing i t in the testing flow of narrative action. The language that is the romance hero, like the lyric with which i t  - 64 -  i s i d e n t i f i e d , i s also destined to be tested by the prose narrative he inhabits.  Both the l y r i c and the romantic hero function best i n i s o l a t i o n  from the facts of l i f e : "Lyric derives i t s power from i s o l a t i n g strong f e e l i n g , and the novelist provides the history from which l y r i c i s usually happily cut o f f . "  1 2  When Ladislaw enters the church, he steps into the dangerous world of  r e a l i t y and leaves the charmed world of romance and l y r i c poetry  behind.  This t r a n s i t i o n must also be seen as a f a l l from the height of  poetry and the related metaphorical worship of Dorothea, to the l e v e l of l i t e r a l , descriptive prose.  By sending him into the church, E l i o t c a l l s  the b l u f f of romance convention, and brings the hero down to earth through a l i t e r a l interpretation of his worship; quite l o g i c a l l y , and quite i r o n i c a l l y , this puts him i n a real place of worship.  Not surprisingly,  the hero fares badly. W i l l expects to s i t i n the Tucker's pew, but they have l e f t Middlemarch;  he intends to gaze upon Dorothea, but Casaubon's presence  prevents him from even glancing i n her d i r e c t i o n ; his ideal v i s i o n i s further marred by "Mr. Rigg's frog-face . . . something a l i e n and unaccountable" (M, p. 346).  E l i o t communicates the overwhelming r e a l i t y of  the church to the reader through an a l l u s i o n to time and p o l i t i c a l history: "Even i n 1831 Lowick was at peace, not more agitated by Reform than by the solemn tenor of the Sunday sermon" (M, p. 346).  She makes him f e e l the  weight of s o c i a l hierarchy and structure f e l t by r e f e r r i n g to the three generations of decent cottagers [who] came as of old with a sense of duty to their betters g e n e r a l l y — t h e smaller children regarding Mr. Casaubon, who wore the black gown and 12  Web,  Barbara Hardy, "Middlemarch pp. 17, 18.  and the Passions," This P a r t i c u l a r  - 65 mounted to the highest box, as probably the chief of a l l betters. (M, p. 346)  Under the weight of these r e a l i s t i c d e t a i l s the romance hero i s deflated:  There was no delivering himself from his cage, however; and W i l l found his places and looked at his book as i f he had been a schoolmistress f e e l i n g that . . . he was u t t e r l y r i d i c u l o u s , out of temper, and miserable. This was what a man got by worshipping the sight of a woman! (M, p. 346)  Thus, the i r o n i c foreshadowing  of Chapter Ten comes true.  The narrator  t e l l s us that "The clerk observed with surprise that Mr. Ladislaw did not j o i n i n the tune of Hanover, and reflected that he might have a cold." When W i l l f i n a l l y leaves the church, "the l i g h t s were a l l changed for him both without and within" (M, p. 347).  One l i g h t that continues to shine on  W i l l as long as he remains i n Middlemarch, however, i s the narrator's observant eye.  This l i g h t reveals that, far from transcending or r e b e l l i n g  against the narrowness of p r o v i n c i a l l i f e , W i l l ' s movement comes to be v i s i b l y determined  by the gossip of his neighbours who make him out to be a  "needy adventurer trying to win the favour of a r i c h woman" (M, p. 365). While the unpleasant gossip about W i l l certainly i n c l i n e s him to f l e e , he i s not forced to leave u n t i l certain oppressive words are spoken and certain ugly facts are brought to l i g h t .  The fact of W i l l ' s mixed  genealogy, for example, which raises i t s head through his connection with Bulstrode, e f f e c t i v e l y eliminates his mysterious past altogether. Farebrother i s more correct than he can know when he says "So our mercurial Ladislaw has a queer genealogy! A high-spirited young lady and a musical Polish patriot made a l i k e l y enough stock for him to spring from, but I should never have suspected a grafting of the Jew pawnbroker. However, there's no knowing what a mixture w i l l turn out beforehand. Some sorts of d i r t serve to c l a r i f y . " (M, p. 527)  -  66  -  Thus robbed of his precious reserve of promise, and already suffering a cold, the hero i s i n real danger of expiring. from his discovery of Casaubon's c o d i c i l .  He receives his next blow  This legal document that  e x p l i c i t l y states the unfitness of any union between W i l l and Dorothea i s r e a l l y just a physical, factual embodiment of Public Opinion: Casaubon's w i l l i s the w i l l of the c o l l e c t i v e society of Middlemarch.  Like many of  the novel's ugly f a c t s , the c o d i c i l comes to l i g h t through the gossip Rosamond has managed to pick up and convey inadvertently to W i l l . The hero receives his f i n a l blow through the medium of Mrs. Cadwallader, whose cutting tongue uses the image of W i l l f l i r t i n g with Rosamond to precipitate W i l l ' s f l i g h t , to chase him away with "the v i s i o n of that unfittingness of any closer r e l a t i o n between them which lay in the opinion of every connected with [Dorothea]" (M, p.  one  466).  Will's sordid past comes to l i g h t as a direct result of Raffles's "unaccountable urge to t e l l " about Buistrode's past crimes; the c o d i c i l separating the hero and heroine makes i t s e l f f e l t to W i l l through Rosamond's chatter (M, p. 515).  To gossip i s to relate scandal; gossip i s  thus the " r e l a t i o n of scandal" referred to by the narrator.  And because—  as Mrs. Cadwallader's sharp tongue proves—gossip has the power to make statements lose "the stamp of an Inference" and appear as fact, "relations of scandal" are often as real as relations of blood, b i r t h , money and class (M, pp. 527, 44).  And the "facts" brought to l i g h t through gossip,  l i k e a l l other factual d e t a i l of the novel, hang as so many millstones around the neck of the romantic  hero.  When W i l l staggers off stage for the second time, E l i o t signals the reader that, l i k e the f i r s t time she summarily dispatched him to Rome, she  - 67  -  i s s t i l l p u l l i n g the strings of her agent, s t i l l using him i n the t e l l i n g of her story.  She does so by beginning the chapter of his departure with a  t e l l i n g a l l u s i o n to romance l i t e r a t u r e :  He was a squyer of lowe degre, That loved the king's daughter of Hungrie — O l d Romance (M, p. 458).  E l i o t uses the prosaic medium of the novel to remove a l l p o s s i b i l i t y of the hero's completing his quest, by outlining i n nightmarish d e t a i l the form that the dragon may  take i n Middlemarchian society.  Casaubon's death gives  b i r t h to his c o d i c i l , a legal dragon which throws the hero completely out of his element.  Since he cannot k i l l his dragon, the second stage of the  romance cycle (the death-struggle or pathos) i s displaced.  The third  stage, (the anagnorisis) does occur when W i l l ' s parentage i s revealed, but instead of f a c i l i t a t i n g his winning of the heroine this parentage makes him even less worthy of Dorothea than before.  In e f f e c t , W i l l ' s departure  marks the end of a f a i l e d cycle and the beginning of another which i s not without i r o n i c overtones. E l i o t forces W i l l to try a second time because she i s not writing of "loves Olympian,"  but of man  (M, p. 194).  As Farebrother explains to  Lydgate, the difference between the two subjects involves a difference of l i t e r a r y convention: The choice of Hercules i s a pretty fable; but Prodicus makes i t easy work for the hero, as i f the f i r s t resolves were enough. Another story says that he came to hold the d i s t a f f , and at l a s t wore the Nessus s h i r t . I suppose one good resolve might keep a man right i f everybody else's resolve helped him. (M, p. 139) In Middlemarch, because the conventions of realism predominate over those of  romance, f i r s t resolves are not enough.  The d i s p a r i t y between the  -  68  -  expectations that accompany these opposing conventions i s a source of irony:  As structure, the central p r i n c i p l e of i r o n i c myth i s best approached as a parody of romance: the application of romantic mythical forms to a more r e a l i s t i c content which f i t s them i n unexpected ways. (Anat. p. 223)  W i l l ' s second departure, l i k e his second farewell to Dorothea  (both the  result of r e a l i s t i c complications), generates i r o n i c humour: It i s c e r t a i n l y trying to a man's dignity to reappear when he i s not expected to do so: a f i r s t farewell has pathos i n i t , but to come back for a second lends an opening to comedy. (M, p. 458) By the time W i l l sets out to try a second quest, he has f a l l e n to the point at which Brooke's conservative evaluation of him as a "Burke with a leaven of Shelley" seems generous  (M, p. 366).  His reputation suffers  further when he travels to London to "eat his dinners" (to study law) p. 395).  Although he i s ostensibly moving away from Middlemarch  (M,  society,  he i s actually moving toward i t s very center by studying the law that i s at once the heart and arm of that society's power.  W i l l ' s metaphor of eating  harks back to other images of devouring and swallowing, especially as they relate to another aspiring hero: "Middlemarch,  i n fact, counted on  swallowing Lydgate and assimilating him very comfortably" (M, p. 114). terms of the conventions of romance, W i l l ' s journey to  In  London to "eat his  dinners" Is r e a l l y the fattening of the s a c r i f i c i a l calf for slaughter: E x i l e s notoriously feed much on hopes, and are unlikely to stay i n banishment unless they are obliged. . . . and as to the suspicious friends who kept a dragon watch over h e r — their opinions seemed less and less important with time and change of a i r . (M, p. 586)  - 69 -  Appropriately, E l i o t has her rejuvenated hero r i s e again i n the spring.  She sets the stage further by re-creating that mysterious sympathy  with nature f o r the meeting of hero and heroine: The clear spring morning, the scent of the moist earth, the fresh leaves just showing their creased-up wealth of greenery from out their half-opened sheaths, seemed part of the cheerfulness [Dorothea] was f e e l i n g . (M, p. 567)  As every romance heroine should be, Dorothea i s suspended, isolated  from  the r e a l i t i e s of place and time: "Dorothea had less of outward v i s i o n than usual this morning, being f i l l e d with images of things as they had been and were going to be" (M, pp. 567-8).  When Dorothea stumbles upon W i l l holding  Rosamond's hands and speaking with "low toned fervour," however, her i n d e f i n i t e v i s i o n of the future i s replaced by "the t e r r i b l e illumination of a certainty" (M, p. 568). The " t e r r i b l e collapse of the i l l u s i o n " of a promising future with Dorothea drives W i l l to say that he has been "'dropped into h e l l ' " (M, pp. 571, 570). Of a l l romance conventions, the mysterious future i s the most precious; the t o t a l world of romance begins to collapse when the reader, l i k e W i l l , i s forced to see too c l e a r l y into the future:  We are on a perilous margin when we begin to look passively at our future selves, and see our own figures led with d u l l consent into i n s i p i d misdoing and shabby achievement. Poor Lydgate was inwardly groaning on that margin and W i l l was a r r i v i n g at i t . (M, p. 574)  In terms of Will's role i n the discourse, the collapse of the promising future of romance marks yet another stage i n his struggle with the conventions of realism which allow the naming of what must not be named.  The a r t i c u l a t i o n of the future f i n a l l y pushes W i l l beyond the  - 70  -  c o n f l i c t phase of his quest to the death-struggle, a phase which, according to Frye, i s often followed by the sparagmos: the disappearance dismembering of the hero, often though a symbolic swallowing Jonah by Leviathan.  or  l i k e that of  The narrator provides the appropriate imagery when she  says that W i l l ' s last meeting with Dorothea leaves him with "no more foretaste of enjoyment i n the l i f e before him than i f his limbs had been lopped off and he was making his fresh start on crutches" (M., p. 588). W i l l ' s t h i r d departure fron Middlemarch marks yet another r e p e t i t i o n of the quest motif.  ironic  This time, however, E l i o t sends her hero  only as far as Riverston, another p r o v i n c i a l town, and brings him back within a day f o r the long-awaited  reunion with his heroine.  Instead of  taking Dorothea i n his arms as a good romance hero should undoubtedly do, however, W i l l must f i r s t  deal with his troublesome hat and gloves:  He took her hand and raised i t to his l i p s with something l i k e a sob. But he stood with his hat and gloves i n the other hand, and might have done for the p o r t r a i t of a Royalist. S t i l l i t was d i f f i c u l t to loose the hand, and Dorothea, withdrawing i t i n a confusion that distressed her, looked and moved away (M, p. 592).  And then we are told that W i l l leans "against the t a l l back of a leather chair, on which he ventured now  to lay his hat and gloves" (M, p. 592).  i t has been from the beginning, the romantic hero's battle i s r e a l l y with these petty d e t a i l s .  Even the couple's decision to marry occurs against  the background of mundane considerations of money and career.  To W i l l ' s  complaint that he i s hardly capable of keeping himself decently, Dorothea counters with an equally r e a l i s t i c  statement:  "We could l i v e quite well on my own f o r t u n e — i t i s too much—seven hundred a - y e a r — I want so l i t t l e — n o new c l o t h e s — a n d I w i l l learn what everything costs." (M, p. 594) ~  As  These d e t a i l s provide a resoundingly negative answer to the question W i l l has asked himself e a r l i e r : U n t i l that wretched yesterday—except the moment of vexation long ago i n the very same room and i n the very same p r e s e n c e — a l l their v i s i o n , a l l their thought of each other, had been as i n a world apart, where the sunshine f e l l on t a l l white l i l i e s , where no e v i l lurked, and no other soul entered. But now—would Dorothea meet him in that world again? (M, p. 589)  On the contrary, the union of the lovers suggests the triumph of the r e a l i s t i c conventions that convey the complexity of the real world.  Eliot  stresses the inexorable descent toward r e a l i t y at the beginning of the chapter immediately  following the reunion of W i l l and Dorothea by rooting  the two of them i n a temporal and  s o c i a l context, and parodying more  "heroic" conventions against this r e a l i s t i c backdrop: It was just after the Lords had thrown out the Reform B i l l : that explains how Mr Cadwallader came to be . . . holding the 'Times' in his hands behind him, while he talked with a trout-fisher's dispassionateness about the prospects of the country to S i r James Chettam. Mrs Cadwallader, the Dowager Lady Chettam, and Celia were sometimes seated on garden-chairs, sometimes walking to meet l i t t l e Arthur, who was being drawn i n his chariot, and, as became the i n f a n t i l e Bouddha, was sheltered by his sacred umbrella with handsome s i l k e n fringe. (M, p. 595)  Were E l i o t to end the novel at this point, the reader would s t i l l able to redeem the romance world somewhat by i n s i s t i n g on the p o s s i b i l i t y of the hero and the heroine l i v i n g "happily ever after" i n a vague and distant future beyond the bounds of the text.  E l i o t does not allow the  reader t h i s luxury; instead, she draws the reader over the edge of the romance world by shrewdly appealing to his desire to know:  be  - 72 -  Every l i m i t i s a beginning as well as an ending. Who can quit young l i v e s a f t e r being long i n company with them, and not desire to know what b e f e l l them in their after-years? (M, p. 607)  The reader's desire to know, to be narrated to, to be t o l d , i s the obverse of  the "unaccountable  impulse to t e l l " that the narrator attributes  e s p e c i a l l y to Raffles, but which applies with equal relevance to a l l the gossips, and other relators of stories in the novel. who  The character-person  most d i r e c t l y feeds the reader's desire to know i s the narrator who  uses a l l the other characters in the novel as mediums for the d e t a i l s , facts and relations that bring the story to i t s close.  The Finale i s the  f i n a l expression of the narrator's impulse to t e l l . By revealing marriage as a romance comedy convention, the narrator draws the reader's attention to the fact that W i l l and Dorothea's marriage derives i t s significance from the l i t e r a r y universe. Marriage, which has been the bourne of so many i s s t i l l a great beginning, as i t was to Adam and kept their honeymoon i n Eden, but had their f i r s t among the thorns and t h i s t l e s of the wilderness. the beginning of the home epic. (M, p. 608)  narratives, Eve, who l i t t l e one It i s s t i l l  Unable to curb her cutting tongue, she c l a r i f i e s this dubious future even further by pronouncing Dorothea's fate: Many who knew her, thought i t a p i t y that so substantive and rare a creature should have been absorbed into the l i f e of another, and be only known i n a certain c i r c l e as a wife and mother. (M, p. 611)  The substitution of "absorption" for the ideal union of man  and wife  suggests that Dorothea i s consumed, swallowed by her husband. of  This image  devouring refers back to the metaphorical i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of Dorothea  - 73 -  with a "fine quotation from the Bible" incorporated i n "a paragraph of today's newspaper" with which W i l l i s associated. done to Dorothea.  Poetic j u s t i c e has been  Her fate prefigures that awaiting Ladislaw.  The narrator eliminates once and for a l l the vague promise of the hero's future when she d e f i n i t i v e l y names what he becomes: W i l l became an ardent public man, working well i n those times when reforms were begun with a hopefulness of immediate good which has been much checked i n our days and getting at l a s t returned to Parliament by a constituency who paid his expenses. (M, pp. 610-11)  If the mythical dragon of romance i s f u l l y adapted  to the r e a l i s t i c world  of Middlemarch, i t must take the form of c o l l e c t i v e society as represented by Parliament.  Extending Brooke's metaphor of Middlemarch as " a l l one  family, you know," Parliament becomes Hobbes' Leviathan, the c o l l e c t i v e body of the c i t i z e n s , the voice of the commons (M, p. 367).  In this l i g h t ,  the r e a l death-struggle (pathos), and devouring of the hero (sparagmos) occurs when W i l l enters the mouth of the real dragon.  In entering  Parliament, W i l l l i v e s up to the future he has charted for himself when he predicts that he w i l l s e l l himself as a "mouthpiece" (M, p. 594). Any hopes of his escaping from his struggle with the monster are dashed when the narrator pronounces the f i n a l damning d e t a i l :  Mr Brooke l i v e d to a good old age, and his estate was inherited by Dorothea's son, who might have represented Middlemarch, but declined, thinking that his opinions had less chance of being s t i f l e d i f he remained out of doors. (M, p. 612)  The implication i s clear enough: W i l l ' s "hopefulness f o r immediate good" i s deceived, and h i s ideas expire for lack of a i r i n the b e l l y of the monster.  - 74 -  The f i n a l defeat of the romance hero, accomplished  through the  collapse of romance conventions i n the jaws of prosaic realism, brings W i l l ' s role as character-agent to an end. The irony of the hero's f a i l u r e to r i s e above his prosaic medium i s heightened by E l i o t ' s careful maintenance of the conventional mystery of h i s past and future and of h i s "insubstantial" personality as a character-person, which i s not dispelled u n t i l the b i t t e r end of the narrative when the romance hero i s burdened with the l a s t f a t a l d e t a i l s before being swallowed by the hungry prose. W i l l ' s function as a character-agent, while perhaps never e n t i r e l y d i s t i n c t from the i l l u s i o n of the character-person, i s s u f f i c i e n t l y prominent to s h i f t the reader's attention from the i l l u s i o n of the r e a l i t y of Middlemarch to the r e a l i t y of Middlemarch and the l i t e r a r y realm i n general; from the impossibility of Will's attaining to heroic stature i n the "prosaic neighborhood  of Middlemarch" to the i m p o s s i b i l i t y of  sustaining romance convention i n the medium of prose; from the way i n which that ubiquitous "web of circumstance," along with their bourgeois desire for conformity, devours the Middlemarchers  to the way i n which the  "carnally-minded prose" of the novel devours the romance hero. If the language of character does not appear as a thematic concern in i t s own r i g h t , i t i s because, l i k e Defoe, E l i o t incorporates and undermines t r a d i t i o n a l l i t e r a r y conventions i n order to strengthen the impact of her novel's realism.  In contrast to the e f f e c t of Defoe's  upsetting of picaresque convention, however, E l i o t ' s upsetting of romance conventions reveals n o v e l i s t i c realism i n general, and W i l l Ladislaw i n p a r t i c u l a r , to be conventions i n themselves.  As Joyce i l l u s t r a t e s so  c l e a r l y i n Ulysses, these conventions, too, can be undermined.  By  undercutting both the r e a l i s t i c source and the r e a l i s t i c referent of  - 75  -  l i t e r a r y character, and by r e l e n t l e s s l y illuminating  i t s agency i n  r e l a t i o n to l i t e r a r y conventions, Joyce makes the language of character an object of thematic concern—a character i n i t s own  right.  - 76  -  CHAPTER 4 BOLLOPEDOOM AS  In the course linguistic  of h i s odyssey through U l y s s e s , Leopold  Blooms i n t o  c o n f i g u r a t i o n s undreamt of i n e i t h e r M o l l F l a n d e r s  Middlemarch.  He  begins  as a man  of a p p a r e n t l y  p s y c h o l o g i c a l i d e n t i t y i n "Calypso," doldy  CHARACTER-CHARACTER  but  and  i n " C i r c e " J o l l y p o l d y the  assumes the appearance of a woman who  children only.  s t a b l e sexual  or  rixidix  brings forth m e t a l l i c  Bloowhom's f a c e resembles, among o t h e r s , those  of  Lord  Byron, S h e r l o c k Holmes and  Rip Van Winkle; and  the c r i t i c s ,  suggest those  of C h r i s t , Moses, E l i j a h , Hamlet, Stephen  Dedalus, Don  Giovanni,  SIgmund Freud, Dante, I t a l o Svevo and  Dr.  of the nimble w i t s : when i n doubt name Bloom. In l i g h t of Bloom's c o u n t l e s s Dr. M u l l i g a n ' s  a s s e r t i o n t h a t "he  h i s words and  man  actions,  Odysseus  1  transformations  and  metamorphoses,  [Bloom] i s more sinned a g a i n s t  than  s i n n i n g " — a humane judgement which a l l o w s , i n modern g e n e r o s i t y of f o r Bloom's " f a m i l y complex" and  h i s "metal t e e t h " — b e c o m e s  THE  to be judged thus, then how KISSES?  The  of t r u t h i f we who  he  s h a l l we  SOAP, THE  I f Bloom BUCKLES and  p h y s i c i a n ' s assessment does, however, take on the  adopt a r e a l i s t i c view of d i s c o u r s e and  i s as a c h a r a c t e r - p e r s o n ,  but  f o r what he  c h a r a c t e r : a c o n f i g u r a t i o n of language. t r a n s g r e s s o r , the one consistently  e v a l u a t e THE  who  for  literary  From t h i s v i e w p o i n t ,  the  s i n s a g a i n s t Bloom, becomes the reader  W i l l i a m York T i n d a l l ,  colour  read Bloom not  i s as a  sees through the language of c h a r a c t e r  spirit,  laughably  absurd, an e f f e c t i v e parody of the r e a l i s t i c view of c h a r a c t e r . is  say  who  to a f i c t i o n a l man  "Mosaic Bloom," M o s a i c, 6 ( F a l l  who  1972), p.  3.  - 77 -  can be described by the masculine pronoun "he." Joyce, however, uses the language that i s Bloom to prevent such mistaking of i d e n t i t y .  The text of Ulysses i s covered with verbal scars  that mark breaks i n l i t e r a r y conventions and provide glimpses of Ellpodbomool's  true i d e n t i t y , an i d e n t i t y not f u l l y revealed u n t i l the  hero's homecoming i s accomplished. Bloom?  And without his disguise, where i s  According to the f i n a l sign i n "Ithaca," she returns to where he •  2  The performance  over, Bollopedoom assumes the  existence of a dot of ink, a sign s u f f i c i e n t l y opaque to remind the reader that l i t e r a r y character cannot be seen i f i t i s seen through. Without  the benefit of the Telemachus chapters, the reader of the  opening l i n e s of "Calypso" would be j u s t i f i e d i n believing himself to be at the beginning of a far more t r a d i t i o n a l novel: "Mr Leopold Bloom ate with r e l i s h the inner organs of beasts and fowls" (U_ , p. 57), i s not far removed from, "Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into r e l i e f by poor dress."  The conventions at work are the same:  character or personality i s revealed through action, taste i n food, i n dress, i n i n t e r i o r decoration, etc.  We are told, for example, that Bloom  wears a "lost property o f f i c e secondhand waterproof," a fact which reveals his f i n a n c i a l status or illuminates an aspect of his personality. Likewise, the description of the way Bloom "pulled the halldoor to after 2  James Joyce, Ulysses (Middlesex: Penguin/Bodley Head, 1960), p. 658. This dot does not appear i n either of the f i r s t Random House or Bodley Head editions of the novel, but i t can be c l e a r l y seen i n Ulysses: 'Ithaca" & 'Penelope': A Facsimile of Manuscripts & Typescripts, Pref. & arrangement Michael Groden (New York & London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1977), p. 289. Future references w i l l follow quotations i n the text. 3  George E l i o t , Middlemarch (Boston: Houghton M i f f l i n Company, 1956), p. 5.  -  him  very  q u i e t l y , more, t i l l  t h r e s h o l d , a limp others 58,  -  f o o t l e a f dropped g e n t l y over  to c r e a t e  i s a person, an a d v e r t i s i n g salesman who  the  t e x t ; such d e t a i l c r e a t e s  the appearance of  realistic  d e t a i l s of the n o v e l ,  Bloom i s a person, and allows  him  in this all.  through Bloom's  Bloom's thoughts.  Like  these thoughts s t r e n g t h e n so i n the  to appear to be a person.  context,  The  they do  same way  the  What a c h a r a c t e r  d e s c r i p t i o n s of Bloom's thoughts may i n which he  describe  be  illusion  speech  t h i n k i n g at  But  as  the  to confuse  p l a u s i b i l i t y w i t h v e r a c i t y i s to f o r g e t the c a r d i n a l convention that reality-principle  i n l i t e r a t u r e i s always secondary to  that  says or t h i n k s i s ,  as c o n v i n c i n g  c l o s e s the door.  rest  other  that a c h a r a c t e r ' s  of secondary importance to h i s speaking and  d e s c r i p t i o n of the way  which  f o r m a l l y d i s t i n g u i s h e d from the  of the n a r r a t i o n , appears to d e s c r i b e  pp.  reality.  "stream of c o n s c i o u s n e s s " or " i n t e r i o r monologue," terms used to t e x t which, w h i l e not  (U_,  i l l u s i o n t h a t Bloom  l i v e s i n a c i t y , Dublin,  In "Calypso," much f a c t u a l d e t a i l i s s u p p l i e d  language i n the  for  h i s m e t i c u l o u s i n t e r e s t i n minute d e t a i l  Such f a c t u a l d e t a i l f u n c t i o n s  e x i s t s beyond the  the  l i d " appears to r e v e a l p e r s o n a l i t y : h i s r e s p e c t  (Molly i s dozing),  59).  the  78  this the  the  pleasure-principle. Many r e a l i s t i c describe rather  d e t a i l s i n Ulysses  the e x t e r n a l r e a l i t i e s of Bloom's mind and  to i l l u m i n a t e the n o v e l  r e l a t i o n to the  r e s t of l i t e r a t u r e .  One  such aspect  but  of t h i s r e l a t i o n i s  s t r u c t u r e and  c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n of U l y s s e s  t h e r e f o r e , be  the  of t h i s a n a l y s i s .  As  indicated i n  the Homeric p a r a l l e l i s not  of i n t e r e s t i n r e l a t i o n to Bloom, but  focus  to  the c i t y of D u b l i n ,  Homer's Odysseus.  i n t r o d u c t o r y paragraph of t h i s chapter,  only one  faithfully  as a l i t e r a r y work which e x i s t s i n v i t a l  the p a r a l l e l between L e o p o l d Bloom and the  f u n c t i o n not  i t s i n f l u e n c e on  the  the  i s the most important; i t w i l l ,  - 79 -  The "Calypso" chapter contains numerous Homeric allusions that pass i n i t i a l l y for r e a l i s t i c description of the events of the morning of June 16, 1904.  For example, Molly at one point asks her husband the meaning of  "metempsychosis," a word-gem she has stumbled the Pride of the Ring."  upon i n her reading of "Ruby:  "'It's Greek,'" says Bloom, '"that means  transmigration of souls'" (U, p. 66).  Looking for a suitable example to  use by way of i l l u s t r a t i o n , Bloom settles his thoughts upon the picture over Molly's bed:  The Bath of the Nymph over the bed. Given away with the Easter number of Photo B i t s : Splendid masterpiece i n art colours. Tea before you put milk i n . Not unlike her [Molly] with her hair down: slimmer. . . . She said i t would look nice over the bed. (U, p. 67) The information provided i n this passage about the working of Bloom's mind and about the l e v e l of Molly's taste i n art also alludes to the nymph Calypso, who,  i n the Odyssey, holds Odysseus prisoner In her Mediterranean  cave for years on end while he weeps for his home. Molly, too, i s from the Mediterranean; her father was once stationed at G i b r a l t a r .  In Ulysses, the  shadow of Calypso's cave becomes the "warm yellow twilight" of the Blooms' bedroom, which contrasts with the sunlight outside. As Bloom's thoughts show, Molly i s not his only j a i l e r .  During his  walk to the butcher shop, the warm rays of the sun against his funeral garb draw Bloom's mind f a r from Dublin to "somewhere i n the east": Turbaned faces going by. Dark caves of carpet shops, big man, Turko the t e r r i b l e , seated crosslegged smoking a coiled pipe. Cries of s e l l e r s i n the streets. Drink water scented with fennel, sherbet.. Wander along a l l day . . . . Getting Stuart G i l b e r t , James Joyce's Ulysses (New York: Random House, 1955), pp. 140-143.  - 80 on to sundown . . . . A s h i v e r of the t r e e s , s i g n a l , the evening wind . . . . F a d i n g gold sky . . . . Night sky moon, v i o l e t , c o l o u r of M o l l y ' s new g a r t e r s . Strings. Listen. A g i r l p l a y i n g one of these i n s t r u m e n t s what do you c a l l them: d u l c i m e r s . I pass. (JJ, p. 59)  The c l o u d s of D u b l i n soon d i s p e l Bloom's l o n g i n g f o r t h i s e x o t i c land of " s i l v e r powdered o l i v e t r e e s , " oranges and c i t r o n s .  Under t h e i r grey  weight Bloom's l o n g i n g f o r the homeland of the Jews, h i s p e o p l e , turns to a f e e l i n g of d e s o l a t i o n :  No, lake, earth now.  not l i k e t h a t . A b a r r e n l a n d , bare waste. Vulcanic the dead sea: no f i s h , weedless, sunk deep i n the . . . . A dead sea i n a dead l a n d , grey and o l d . O l d I t bore the o l d e s t , the f i r s t r a c e . (U, p. 63)  L i k e Odysseus, Bloom i s a wanderer, to  longs  r e t u r n to h i s home. These examples  The Odyssey Odysseus. of  a s t r a n g e r i n a f o r e i g n l a n d who  i n d i c a t e that the correspondence between U l y s s e s and  i s only p a r t i a l ;  Bloom i s not c o m p l e t e l y determined by  D e v i a t i o n s from the Homeric  c o n v e n t i o n , such as the double  M o l l y as Calypso and Penelope, Bloom's Jewish as opposed  role  to Odysseus'  Greek h e r i t a g e , and h i s c a t i n s t e a d of Odysseus' dog, have p r o v i d e d  critics  w i t h grounds  intial  effect  f o r both s e r i o u s s p e c u l a t i o n and l i g h t amusement.  of the Homeric  The  p a r a l l e l , a c c o r d i n g to Harry L e v i n , i s to reduce 5  Bloom to "mock-heroic a b s u r d i t y .  Indeed, Bloom i s an  a d v e r t i s e m e n t - c a n v a s s e r , not an adventurous w a r r i o r , and he does r e t u r n a t the  end of h i s t r a v e l s to a f a i t h l e s s Penelope who  v e r y day. Bloom who  Beyond t h i s i n i t i a l  has cuckolded him  parody, argues Morton L e v i t t , l i e s  " i s more of a hero than he could ever imagine.  i r o n y , Bloom, who  that  another  With overpowering  can f a t h e r no son, becomes i n a s t e r i l e u n i v e r s e a s o r t  Harry L e v i n , James Joyce (New York: New  Directions,  1960), p.73.  - 81 -  of archetype of f e r t i l i t y . " Such comparisons of the two heroes i n r e l a t i o n to their respective s o c i e t i e s and h i s t o r i c a l conditions constitute no doubt a v a l i d approach to the novel.  They s h a l l not, however, be the focus of t h i s  chapter, which w i l l deal Instead with the way a clear backdrop against which Bloom may character.  thematic  the Homeric p a r a l l e l provides  be revealed as a l i t e r a r y  In this regard, the p a r a l l e l functions i n much the same way  as  the romance conventions do i n Middlemarch, though i t does so i n a far more e x p l i c i t , v i s i b l e manner.  As a l i t e r a r y character, Bloom i s more firmly  rooted i n the l i t e r a r y realm than either W i l l or Moll: his odyssey takes him back not only to Homer's epic and Odysseus, but to the very spring of l i t e r a r y character—language  itself.  Throughout Ulysses, a l l psychological, s o c i o l o g i c a l , and  historical  explanations of Bloom's behavior and motivation must compete for relevance with the obvious explanations provided by the Homeric p a r a l l e l .  For  example, when Bloom enters Barney Kieran's bar, he i s acting i n accord with the Homeric convention according to which Odysseus enters the Cyclops' cave; i n e f f e c t , Bloom jts_ Odysseus and the bar  the cave.  It follows  that a l l explanations of why Bloom accepts and smokes a cigar may be of secondary importance to the fact that he i s continuing to play his role as set  out i n Homer.  Does Bloom smoke the cigar because he i s a smoker?  i s he a smoker because he smokes a cigar? a cigar?  Is Bloom o r a l l y fixated?  Further, what kind of man  Or smokes  A l l such questions are secondary to the  w i l l of the discourse: Bloom smokes a cigar because the narrative of Ulysses demands that he acquire an Odyssean stake with which to put out, i f only r h e t o r i c a l l y , the Cyclops' eye. Morton P. L e v i t t , "A Hero for our Time: Leopold Bloom and the Myth of Ulysses," JJQ, 10 ( F a l l 1972), p. 137. 6  - 82 -  Thus, one significance of the Homeric p a r a l l e l l i e s i n the way i t c l e a r l y reveals the familiar tautology between character and action. Countless times during the course of Ulysses, the Homeric p a r a l l e l assumes a v i s i b l e position on the stage, providing a mirror image (more or less distorted) of Bloom's actions, showing them to be determined by the l i t e r a r y laws of the text.  The more these laws—and their violations—make  themselves f e l t , the greater the freedom of the language of character r e l a t i v e to i t s supposed referent outside the l i t e r a r y realm. This view of Bloom, of course, i s only one of many.  Other readers  might argue that Bloom's motive for smoking a cigar can be determined i n r e l a t i o n to Odysseus' motive for devising the o l i v e stake, that the Dubliner's personality can be discerned i n the Greek's.  Perhaps Odysseus'  ruse manifests what W. B. Stanford regards as the hero's primary t r a i t : "cleverness i n the widest sense, a cleverness ranging from the highest wisdom and i n t e l l i g e n c e to the lowest cunning."  Or, perhaps Odysseus'  calculated action i s a sign of his unquenchable t h i r s t for l i f e , or of h i s devotion to his men.  A l l such explanations of the hero's personality,  however, must compete with the idea that Odysseus may be functioning here purely as an agent of the gods.  His eye blinded, the Cylops screams:  "'So the old prophecy has come home to me with a vengeance! . . . has now happened  A l l that  [Telemus son of Eurymus] foretold, when he warned me that  a man called Odysseus would rob me of my sight.'" Odysseus' putting out of the Cyclops' eye i s an episode of the  W. B. Stanford, "Ulyssean Qualities i n Leopold Bloom." 5 (Spring 1953), p. 133.  Comp. L i t . ,  g  Homer, The Odyssey (Middlesex: Penguin, 1946), p. 153. Future references w i l l follow quotations i n the text.  - 83  hero's odyssey w r i t t e n by characters deeds.  -  the gods, f o r g e r s of human deeds.  i n Homer's e p i c , the gods appear as the authors  And  i f the c h a r a c t e r , Odysseus, i s without  then Leopold  Bloom i s doubly so; the D u b l i n e r  same deeds Odysseus before him was  "Cyclops"  i s the way  of Odysseus'  p e r s o n a l i t y as a  The  According  What remains i n view i n  the Homeric p a r a l l e l  suspends Bloom from the  of the words, the most important  between the Homeric Cyclops  Bloom i s s t r i k i n g  episode  i n t h i s regard.  The  and  to speak.  And  power of the most important  p o i n t of  d i f f e r e n c e between Odysseus  Whereas Odysseus appears to c o n t r o l  as both The  abundantly c l e a r , the a b i l i t y  deprived  Odyssey and M o l l F l a n d e r s make  to speak, to say  " I " , constitutes a narrative  s o r t : l i k e M o l l F l a n d e r s , Odysseus a t t a i n s  h e r o i c s t a t u r e at l e a s t i n p a r t because the d i s c o u r s e t h a t g i v e s him permits  him  to say  " I " , to name h i m s e l f and  In Homer's Cyclops sentence at the b e g i n n i n g to  episode,  of the chapter  (Odyssey, p.  (Odyssey, p.  t a l k s of my 139).  The  h i s own  life  story.  n a r r a t o r c l a i m s but  a single  b e f o r e p a s s i n g the n a r r a t i v e r e i n s  t h i s i s how  preamble, Odysseus i n t r o d u c e s h i m s e l f : whole world  tell  the framing  Odysseus: "In answer to the K i n g ,  r e s o u r c e s , began h i s t a l e "  the  the Joycean v e r s i o n i s  the n a r r a t i o n of the Homeric v e r s i o n , i n U l y s s e s Bloom i s l a r g e l y of the r i g h t  the  to the r e a l i s t i c view of d i s c o u r s e , which c o n s i d e r s  the hero's r e l a t i o n to t h i s environment. and  fictional  discourse.  c h a r a c t e r ' s environment to be one divergence  the  author of Bloom's  r e a l i t y of D u b l i n , r e p l a c i n g the r e a l i s t i c view of c h a r a c t e r w i t h r e a l i s t i c view of  result,  i s f o r c e d to r e - e n a c t  f o r c e d to a c t .  deeds, however, p r e f e r s to s t a y o f f s t a g e .  Themselves  139). "I am  Odysseus, the man Then, a f t e r a  of many  brief  Odysseus, L a e r t e s ' son.  stratagems, and my  fame has  s e l f - a s s u r a n c e and  confidence  The  reached the heavens" w i t h which the hero  - 84 -  speaks i s due no doubt to the fact that he i s surrounded by an appreciative audience and out of range of the Cyclops.  And from a l l outward  appearance,  he i s also out of the range of the framing narrator; he i s free to say what he l i k e s .  The hero's self-introduction mirrors the one he gives the  Cyclops after having put out his eye.  In between these two introductions  comes another which gives the act of self-naming i t s true significance. Trapped by the Cyclops, who seems intent on devouring his unfortunate v i s i t o r s one by one, Odysseus i s tempted to k i l l the monster immediately.  Upon r e f l e c t i o n he decides to follow a more prudent course by  blinding him and escaping from the cave when the sheep are l e t out to graze.  In order for his plan to work, Odysseus must ensure that the other  Cyclopes w i l l not come to the aid of Polyphemus.  He does this by giving  himself a false name: "Cyclops," I said, "you wish to know the name I bear. I ' l l t e l l i t to you; and i n return I should l i k e to have the g i f t you promised me. My name i s Nobody. That i s what I am called by my mother and father and by a l l my friends." (Odyssey, p. 149) The success of this wile i s complete. the Cyclops begins to scream i n agony.  After Odysseus has put out his eye, Hearing these c r i e s , his fellow  Cyclopes come to the mouth of the cave and ask i f somebody i s trying by violence to k i l l him, to which Polyphemus r e p l i e s : "'0 my friends, i t ' s Nobody's treachery, no violence, that i s doing me to death.'"  "'Well  then,'" h i s friends respond, " ' i f nobody i s assaulting you i n your solitude, you must be sick. be helped.'"  Sickness comes from almighty Zeus and cannot  Saying this they depart, leaving Odysseus to r e l i s h h i s  v i c t o r y : "'And off they went, while I chuckled to myself at the way i n which my happy notion of a false name had taken them i n ' " (Odyssey, p. 150).  -  Odysseus' a b i l i t y  85 -  to name h i m s e l f , and so b l i n d  m e t a p h o r i c a l l y , more than h i s a b i l i t y allows  h i s escape from bondage.  to b l i n d  the Cyclops  the monster p h y s i c a l l y ,  The a c t of naming here i s c l o s e l y r e l a t e d  to knowing: Odysseus g i v e s h i m s e l f a f a l s e name that i s completely h i s purpose, which i s to e x e r c i s e h i s prowess as poet and l i a r  true to  using  language that appears t o , but a c t u a l l y does n o t , r e f e r to r e a l i t y . same token, the C y c l o p s ' name's t r u e import  use o f "Nobody," because he i s unaware of the  (and of the dangers i n h e r e n t  i n his ignorance),  seen as a f a l s e naming that works to h i s disadvantage. episode,  the a b i l i t y  By the  to speak, which i s the a b i l i t y  I n Homer's  can be Cyclops  to name, both  c o n s t i t u t e s and r e f l e c t s the power of the one who speaks: once Odysseus has put out the eye o f the C y c l o p s , he must remain s i l e n t once out of range of the monster, h i s s e c u r i t y permits  f o r fear of h i s l i f e ; him to speak h i s  name f r e e l y and to taunt h i s v i c t i m . Odysseus' apparent a b i l i t y illusion.  to speak i s , as we have s a i d , a n a r r a t i v e  The same i s t r u e o f M o l l F l a n d e r s .  the d i s c o u r s e  Bloom's i n a b i l i t y  to the same degree as Odysseus i s the d i r e c t  to c o n t r o l  r e s u l t of  Joyce's d e s i r e to c a l l a t t e n t i o n to t h i s i l l u s i o n , a f e a t t o be accomplished  only a t the expense of Bloom as a c o n v e n t i o n a l  character-person.  In o r d e r  to d e s t r o y  autonomy, the d i s c o u r s e o f U l y s s e s  the i l l u s i o n o f the c h a r a c t e r ' s  p l a y s w i t h Bloom, g i v e s him o c c a s i o n a l  c o n t r o l o f the words that c o n s t i t u t e him, l e t s him r i s e to the s u r f a c e o f the n a r r a t i v e , and then r e c l a i m s t h i s c o n t r o l and swallows him i n a sea of words.  In t h i s way, the d i s c o u r s e draws a t t e n t i o n to the s u b s e r v i e n c e o f  character  to language.  I f the Homeric p a r a l l e l i s a p p l i e d to the primary f i c t i o n a l we see t h a t , whereas the Cyclops  devours Odysseus' men by dashing  level, their  - 86 -  brains on the ground and tearing them limb from limb with ravenous jaws, the Dubliners devour Bloom with their gossip. the OED,  i s "to give a name to."  And to gossip, according to  Naming can be a creative act as i t was  for God and, to a lesser degree, Adam, or, as the bar scene i l l u s t r a t e s so c l e a r l y , i t can be an act of destruction that robs objects of their integrity.  In the mouths of his enemies, Bloom becomes a "'bloody dark  horse,'" a "sloppy eyes", a "bloody mouseabout," a "'Virag,'" a  "'new  Messiah for Ireland,'" a "'wolf in sheep's clothing,'" one of the things that "contaminate  our shores.'" a "mixed middling."  these i n s u l t s i s the f a c t — a fact unspeakably enemies—that pp.333-6).  Bloom i s a Jew  ugly in the eyes of his  . . . "'as cute as a shithouse r a t ' " (U_,  The whole thrust of the gossip i s to deprive Bloom of his  i n t e g r i t y as a man.  The concern he i s said to have shown for his pregnant  wife c a l l s into question his masculinity: "'Do the C i t i z e n .  And underlying a l l  you c a l l that a man?'" asks  Rumours of Molly's a f f a i r with Blazes Boylan compromise  Bloom's status as a father;  Jack Power's mention of Bloom's two children  prompts the C i t i z e n to ask: "'And  who  does he suspect?'"  The effect the gossip has on Bloom i s underlined by one of the chapter's numerous plays on words.  In the following passage, John Wyse  (wise because he asks "whys"?) asks for v e r i f i c a t i o n of the rumours he has been spreading at Bloom's expense: -Isn't that a f a c t , says John Wyse, what I was c i t i z e n about Bloom and the Sinn Fein? -That's so, says Martin. Or so they allege. -Who made those allegations? says A l f . - I , says Joe. I'm the a l l i g a t o r . (U, p. 335)  t e l l i n g the  -  L i k e every  p l a y on words, t h i s one  language to language i t s e l f ,  and  87  -  s h i f t s a t t e n t i o n from the r e f e r e n t of  i n v i t e s a c l o s e r look at the ways i n which  Bloom i s devoured by the language of the The  text.  g r e a t e s t a l l i g a t o r of them a l l i s of course  the n a r r a t o r ,  the  inheritor  (or u s u r p e r ) of Odyseus' power to n a r r a t e , through whose eye,  " I , " the  reader  bar.  gains access  to the primary r e a l i t y of Barney  c h a r a c t e r who  i s presumably i n the bar,  g e n e r a l a t t a c k on Bloom's i n t e g r i t y ; devours Bloom by d e p r i v i n g him Readers may,  find  They may  who  i s or was  this explanation  reject  present  a  he  to the n a r r a t i o n . of what i s happening  the i d e a that he counter  i s being  that  at Barney K i e r n a n ' s ,  d i s l i k e s Bloom as much as the others do. a t t e n t i o n to and  As  i n h i s c a p a c i t y of n a r r a t o r ,  dropped or swallowed by the d i s c o u r s e , and  character-person  i n the n o v e l .  and  the n a r r a t o r p a r t i c i p a t e s i n the  of access  once a g a i n ,  to Bloom u n c o n v i n c i n g . and  Kiernan's  In other words, the secondary l e v e l of n a r r a t i o n determines how  when the r e a l i t y of the bar s h a l l f i n d e x p r e s s i o n  or  The  picked  up  " I " i s a man,  a  and  movement of the  from Bloom c o u l d then be e x p l a i n e d  who  narrator's  i n terms of human  psychology: the n a r r a t o r acknowledges Bloom's presence o n l y r e l u c t a n t l y , as he would t h a t of a troublesome i n s e c t , and  i g n o r e s h i s presence as much as  possible. The by  attempt  to read  " I " as a c h a r a c t e r - p e r s o n ,  the d i s c o u r s e of "Cylops"  however, i s r e s i s t e d  even more s t r o n g l y than the attempt to do  same w i t h Bloom, though the two  are r e l a t e d as we  n a r r a t o r ' s beer consumption and  subsequent u r i n a t i o n , a l o n g w i t h  ability i s not  s h a l l see.  Although  the the  his  to speak (or w r i t e ) , are s i g n s of h i s all-too-human "humanity," he q u i t e a person l i k e  the o t h e r s .  His i d e n t i t y i s i n t e n t i o n a l l y  - 88 -  precarious.  The r e a d e r ' s attempts  n a t u r a l and c u l t u r a l conventions c o n v e n t i o n s , not the l e a s t  t o make a man of him by a p p e a l i n g to  are impeded by a combination  of l i t e r a r y  of which i s the Homeric p a r a l l e l .  Regarded as a c o n v e n t i o n a l c h a r a c t e r - p e r s o n under the l i g h t o f r e a l i s m , " I " cannot  be d e f i n i t i v e l y  Nor  can one determine  so.  In h i s attempt  fixed  i n any one p h y s i c a l  location.  to whom he i s speaking or a t what time he i s doing  to name the "unnamed" n a r r a t o r and understand h i s  s t o r y , David Hayraan adheres to such  logic:  He i s a f t e r a l l a "person" i n Joyce's D u b l i n , i n the D u b l i n of U l y s s e s , and t h e r e f o r e must be i n some way c o n s i d e r e d i n the l i g h t of normal b e h a v i o r . I n t h a t l i g h t , he must be t e l l i n g the s t o r y to someone. I f he i s t e l l i n g the s t o r y t o someone, he must be t e l l i n g i t a t a l a t e r p e r i o d . I f he i s t e l l i n g i t a t a l a t e r p r i o d , i t i s p r o b a b l y l a t e r that night. I f i t i s l a t e r t h a t n i g h t , i t i s v e r y l i k e l y t h a t he i s t e l l i n g the s t o r y i n a pub, to a d r i n k - d o n o r , a t about the time when Bloom h i m s e l f i s a s l e e p on the s t r a n d .  Hayman's e f f o r t one  to f i l l  i n the gaps i n v o l v e s the t e l l i n g of another  story,  that creaks s o r r i l y when i t asks us to b e l i e v e t h a t the n a r r a t o r ' s  i n t e r j e c t i o n s , h i s swallowing  of beer, and h i s u r i n a t i o n  p e r f e c t l y w i t h i d e n t i c a l events a t Barney K i e r n a n ' s . i n t e r p r e t a t i o n appears  when he t r i e s  correspond  The i r o n y i n h i s  to j u s t i f y h i s r e a l i s t i c view by  a r g u i n g t h a t such c o i n c i d e n c e i s c o n v e n t i o n a l , and not unusual i n fiction. Herbert is i n fact  Schneidau  responds  to t h i s argument by c o u n t e r i n g that " I "  i n the bar d u r i n g the n a r r a t i o n , and t h a t h i s n a r r a t i o n i s  a c t u a l l y simultaneous  w i t h the events  themselves,  a k i n d o f r e h e a r s a l , an  9  David Hayman, "Two Eyes a t Two L e v e l s : A response to H e r b e r t Schneidau on Joyce's 'Cyclops,'" JJQ, 16 (Winter 1978), pp. 107-108. 10  Hayman, p. 106.  - 89 -  i n t e r i o r monologue of the story he w i l l l a t e r recount over a beer or two.  11  Both interpretations s t r a i n the reader's c r e d u l i t y , and they do so  according to the very conventions of realism on which they are based.  In  trying to make of " I " a character-person, both writers ignore s i g n i f i c a n t ambiguities or gaps which c a l l into question their conventional view. Any attempt to assign " I " a proper name constitutes a misreading of the chapter.  The desire to do so, however, i s so strong that few c r i t i c s  r e s i s t the temptation.  Schneidau succumbs when he seals his interpretation  by concluding that "the Nameless One's name, at l a s t , i s Joyce." s l i g h t l y less imprudent naming i s that of Richard Ellmann, who  A  conceives of  the "unnamed" narrator as a modern incarnation of Thersites, the mean-spirited character of Shakespeare's T r o i l u s and Cressida.  Ellmann's  reading i s more acceptable because i t i s more l i t e r a r y , but i t s t i l l ignores the fact that " I , " s t r i c t l y speaking, i s not unnamed at a l l . Roland Barthes contends that:  In the story (and i n many conversations), I_ i s no longer a pronoun, but a name, the best of names: to say J_ i s inevitably to attribute s i g n i f i e d s to oneself; further, i t gives one a biographical duration, i t enables one to undergo, in one's imagination, an i n t e l l i g i b l e "evolution," to s i g n i f y oneself as an object with a destiny, to give a meaning time. On this l e v e l , J_ . . . i s therefore a character. Many readers have noted that "Cyclops" i s largely about mistaken i d e n t i t y : Joe Hynes mistakes Geraghty for Herzog's creditor; A l f Bergan mistakes someone else for Paddy Dignam; Bob Doran misnames Paddy Dignam as ^Herbert Schneidau, "One JJQ, 16 (Winter 1978), p.97.  Eye and Two  Levels: On Joyce's  'Cyclops,'"  12  Schneidau, p.  103.  Roland Barthes, S/Z, Wang, 1974), p. 68. 13  trans.  Richard M i l l e r (New York: H i l l &  - 90 -  Willy.  Barthes' correct assertion that I_ pulls i n the d i r e c t i o n of a  r e a l i s t i c view of character should be carefully weighed i n l i g h t of t h i s endemic mistaking of i d e n t i t y .  In fact, the p u l l of the J- toward  reality,  troubled as i t i s by the textual barriers already discussed, i s at least balanced i f not overpowered by the counterpull back into the l i t e r a r y realm exerted by the Homeric p a r a l l e l , s p e c i f i c a l l y by the relentless allusions and word-plays  on the n a r r a t o r i a l " I " and the Cyclopean eye.  The Homeric p a r r a l l e l encourages  the reader to recognize the  e s s e n t i a l l i t e r a r i n e s s of the narrator, and to read him as a style instead of as a man.  "I's" point of view i s that of the Cyclops' eye, an  impersonal eye which, as we have mentioned, has usurped the hero's power to narrate.  Implied i n this mean, myopic point of view i s a d i s t o r t i o n of  r e a l i t y that nonetheless constitutes r e a l i t y for the reader.  As part of  the f i c t i o n a l world of Dublin, Bloom i s not described by this eye as much as he i s created by i t : a character i s not a man as much as i t i s a s t y l e . This view of the role of the " I " narration i s confirmed and high-lighted by the t e r t i a r y narration, which takes the form of thirty-three interruptions of the " I " narrator's secondary narration.  The  hierarchy implied i n this schema of primary, secondary and t e r t i a r y narration i s misleading, both because the various levels are not completely separate from one another and because both the secondary and t e r t i a r y l e v e l  1*+ levels are equally real from the reader's perspective.  The secondary  narration begins the c h a p t e r — " I was just passing the time of day with old In her a r t i c l e , "Funfersum: Dialogue as Metafictional Technique i n the 'Cyclops' Episode of Ulysses," JJQ, Vol. 18, No. 4 (Summer 1981), pp. 397-417, Mary Beth Pringle demonstrates how Joyce uses dialogue to blur the d i s t i n c t i o n between what she c a l l s the " r e a l " and "unreal" narrative strands.  -  Troy"—but  the  tertiary level  -  91  sometimes takes the  foreshadows Bloom's imminent a r r i v a l w i t h "Who b e d i g h t i n s a b l e armour?" (U, pp. n a r r a t i o n c l o s e s the c h a p t e r , "about" the o t h e r . of the c h a p t e r ,  290,  296).  the reader i s j u s t i f i e d  suggests t h a t  the  level i s  l e v e l s accounts f o r about h a l f doubt as  Perhaps a l l we  s u b j e c t of the d i s c o u r s e  i s the d i s c o u r s e  to  can  exactly  say  with  itself,  drawn to a c l o s e r look at the  a t t r i b u t e d to j i n a r r a t o r without doing c o n s i d e r a b l e impersonal to a degree t h a t d e f i e s any  or p e r s o n a l i t y behind them.  narratorial  i n s t r u s i o n s represent  Pangloss or not, i n rod, the the  to say t h a t one  and language  t h i n g i s c e r t a i n : these t e r t i a r y n a r r a t o r i a l i n s t r u c t i o n s cannot  t e x t ; they are ego  tertiary  character. One  be  land,  are d e a l i n g w i t h the n a r r a t i v e of a n a r r a t i v e , which  t h a t the r e a d e r ' s a t t e n t i o n i s being of  In a d d i t i o n , the  i n expressing  what c o n s t i t u t e s the a c t i o n of the c h a p t e r . assurance i s t h a t we  comes through Michan's  making i t i m p o s s i b l e  Since each of these two  l e a d , as when i t  i s erroneous.  1 5  To  i n j u s t i c e to  attempt to l o c a t e  argue, as Ellmann does, t h a t  a s i n g l e i n d i v i d u a l v o i c e , be To  say  t h a t the  emanates from the  goods bought of Moses Herzog, of merchant, h e r e i n a f t e r c a l l e d speakers are the respectively Stuart  same n a r r a t o r as "For  the i t that  of  i n Jacky  Tar,  nonperishable  13 S a i n t Kevin's parade, Wood quay ward,  the vendor," i s to ignore  s t y l e s themselves, m o c k - b i b l i c a l  (U, pp.327,  an  " v o i c e " of "They b e l i e v e  scourger a l m i g h t y , c r e a t o r of h e l l upon e a r t h and  son of a gun"  the  and  t h a t the o n l y  real  contractual  291).  Gilbert's analysis i s preferable:  R i c h a r d Ellmann, U l y s s e s s i n the L i f f e y ( New York: OUP, 1972), pp. 111-112. Karen Lawrence makes a s i m i l a r c r i t i c i s m of M a r y l i n French's i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of "Cyclops"; see Karen Lawrence, The Odyssey o f S t y l e i n U l y s s e s ( P r i n c e t o n , N.J.: PUP, 1981), p. 102. 1 5  - 92 -  At i n t e r v a l s the n a r r a t i o n i s taken out of the mouth of the n o n d e s c r i p t v u l g a r i a n and becomes mock-heroic, Gargantuan, p s e u d o - s c i e n t i f i c or a n t i q u a r i a n i n s t y l e .  The exact terms used l e s s important  1 6  to d e s c r i b e the v a r i o u s l e v e l s of n a r r a t i o n a r e  than an understanding that when these n a r r a t i o n s speak,  the  v o i c e of n a r r a t i o n speaks.  In i n t e r r u p t i n g each o t h e r , the v a r i o u s l e v e l s  o r s t y l e s of n a r r a t i o n c a l l  a t t e n t i o n to the way  and c h a r a c t e r s of o t h e r l e v e l s , to the way up l i k e a puppet  and  they swallow  the  they p l a y w i t h Bloom, p i c k  c a r r y him i n t o word-worlds t h a t both d i s t o r t  c r e a t e h i s " p e r s o n a l i t y , " and g i v e him a s i g n i f i c a n c e r a d i c a l l y from that he has i n Barney K i e r n a n ' s bar. " s l o p i n g around  by P i l l  The  him  and  different  Bloom the n a r r a t o r  sees  lane and Greek s t r e e t w i t h h i s cod's eye c o u n t i n g  up a l l the guts of the f i s h " i s not the Bloom "Who l a n d , b e d i g h t i n s a b l e armour? Impervious  styles  to f e a r i s Rory's  comes through Michan's  0'Bloom, the son of Rory:  son: he of the prudent  soul"  i t i s he. (U_, p. 296).  the u n c h a r i t a b l e eye of " I , " Bloom i s a p a t h e t i c s k u l k i n g f i g u r e of a i n the language prudence  of I r i s h myth, he i s a parody  man;  of the I r i s h hero whose  p o i n t s to h i s f a b l e d descendence from the w a r r i o r - g o d s of T r o y .  Each time Bloom i s p i c k e d up by a new renamed or r e - c r e a t e d .  In the language  becomes "the d i s t i n g u i s h e d s c i e n t i s t [who]  In  s t y l e he i s e f f e c t i v e l y  of the m e d i c a l r e p o r t , Poldy  Herr P r o f e s s o r L u i t p o l d  tendered m e d i c a l evidence to the e f f e c t  Blumenduft  that the i n s t a n t a n e o u s  f r a c t u r e of the c e r v i c a l v e r t e b r a e . . ." (U, p. 303).  At the end of the  c h a p t e r , Bloom, " o l d sheepsface," i s r a i s e d from the common f l o c k to the d i v i n e h e i g h t of b i b l i c a l prose as E l i j a h  1 6  G i l b e r t , p,  274.  . . . o n l y to be  subsequently  - 93 -  cast out, a f a l l e n angel:  When, l o , there came about them a l l a great brightness and they beheld the chariot wherein He stood ascend to heaven. And they beheld Him in the chariot, clothed upon i n the glory of the brightness . . . . And they beheld Him even Him, ben Bloom E l i j a h , amid clouds of angels ascend to the glory of the brightness at an angle of f o r t y f i v e degrees over Donohoe's i n L i t t l e Green Street l i k e a shot off a shovel. (U, p. 343)  The f i n a l phrase of the chapter, " l i k e a shot o f f a shovel," comes much closer than the rest of the impersonal narrations to the style of the Cyclopean  " I " , confirming perhaps the impersonality of that s t y l e , and  suggesting that " I " i s a style l i k e a l l the others.  In the course of his  journey from style to s t y l e , the language that i s Bloom becomes progressively detached  from the r e a l i t y of Barney Kiernan's and becomes the  plaything of the discourse.  His f u l l emancipation  as a l i t e r a r y character,  however, w i l l not occur u n t i l after he travels through "Circe," i n which the character-person i s formally put on  trial.  Once Stephen and Bloom enter the gloom of "Circe," the primary narrative thread becomes even more d i f f i c u l t to follow than It has been i n "Oxen of the Sun", where styles overpower factual events.  According to  Kenner, "Nothing, i n 'Circe', distinguishes 'real' from 'hallucinatory', 1 7  nor any part of the episode from any other."  True, parts of the episode  appear to be validated by other parts of the novel.  For example, Bloom's  potato seems r e a l because i t has appeared before and reappears "Circe."  after  Likewise, Stephen's money, entrusted to Bloom at Zoe's, becomes  real when Bloom returns i t to him i n "Ithaca."  Although such inner  hierarchies of a r t i f i c e inform much of our reading, they remain 17  Hugh Kenner, Ulysses (London: Gordon Allen & Unwin, 1980), p.  123.  - 94 -  t a u t o l o g i c a l : they corroborate one f i c t i o n with another f i c t i o n .  And Joyce  seems to delight in showing that—even in the most objective f i c t i o n — t w o l i e s do not make a truth. By far the greater part of "Circe" has a much more tenuous r e l a t i o n to the r e a l i t y of Dublin; most of what happens i s never v e r i f i e d elsewhere in the novel.  Put another way, the reader often cannot see through the  language of "Circe"  to any referent.  regard to the language of character.  Nowhere i s this more true than in For readers used to the comforting  face of Bloom as a charcter-person, "Circe" becomes, according to Kenner, a kind of " h e l l . " escape.  1 8  Like the h e l l of Dante, Joyce's h e l l i s d i f f i c u l t to  This d i f f i c u l t y has not, of course, prevented c r i t i c s from trying  to dispel the disquieting shadows of "Circe" with the l i g h t of day by forcing them to conform to the standards of realism. One such attempt i s that of John Brophy, who  sees the greater part  of "Circe" as an emanation of Bloom's mind: This unacted and perhaps unactable drama begins and ends with a r e a l i s t i c encounter, i n a disreputable Dublin slum, between the young Stephen Daedalus (or Joyce) and the middle-aged Leopold Bloom, a newspaper-canvasser of Hungarian-Jewish descent. The middle and much the larger part of the action, however, i s occupied by a compost of decaying memories, fears, desires, shames and g l o r i f i c a t i o n s , a l l hallucinatory, a l l taking place in Bloom's mind. Brophy's view, as the allusions to the age, profession and n a t i o n a l i t y of the characters suggest, derives from a r e a l i s t i c view of character.  While  i t may be reassuring i n some respects, this interpretation f a i l s to provide  176.  18  Kenner, p. 123.  19  John Brophy, The Human Face (New York: Prentice H a l l , 1946), p.  - 95 -  a means of d i s t i n g u i s h i n g the " r e a l " from the " h a l l u c i n a t o r y . " important,  More  no t e x t u a l j u s t i f i c a t i o n e x i s t s f o r such a view.  Kenner has  shown t h a t the v o c a b u l a r y and memories of the 20  " h a l l u c i n a t i o n s " c o u l d not be a l l Bloom's.  Thus, to regard the p l a y  w i t h i n the f i c t i o n of U l y s s e s as s u b s t a n t i a l l y Bloom's h a l l u c i n a t i o n makes no more or l e s s sense Hamlet's dream. view may  than to regard the p l a y - w i t h i n - t h e - p l a y i n Hamlet as  L i k e Stephen's r a r e f i e d  i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of Hamlet, t h i s  provide for i n t e r e s t i n g speculation.  In the c o n t e x t , of U l y s s e s ,  however, i t i s too much the r e a c t i o n of a g u i l t y reader who, i n Hamlet, c o n f r o n t e d w i t h a p l a y t h a t confuses fiction,  r e c o i l s and  embarrassing  cries  "Give me  some l i g h t . "  v i o l a t i o n of c o n v e n t i o n , we may  like  the K i n g  the boundary of r e a l i t y I f we  wish  to a v o i d  and  this  agree w i t h Kenner t h a t the  language of " C i r c e " obeys a more e l u s i v e set of p r i n c i p l e s : A l l we can s a f e l y say of t h e i r d e t a i l i s t h a t i t tends to come from e a r l i e r i n the book, a s o r t of c o l l e c t i v e v o c a b u l a r y out of which, i t seems, a n y t h i n g at a l l can now composed.  As one identified we  aspect of t h i s b r i l l i a n t l y  e x p l i c i t l y as a l i t e r a r y  know t h a t the l i t e r a r y  obscure  character.  other c h o i c e i n the matter,  these.  20  21  K e n n e r , pp.  120-121. 123.  read "BLOOM:"  come to l i f e  For the reader of " C i r c e "  (who  i n the has  e x t r a - t e x t u a l r e a l i t y ) , Bloom i s  these words: l i t e r a r y c h a r a c t e r i s the words he,  Kenner, pp.  Each time we  no  s i n c e the language of the t e x t e x i s t s i n such  an ambiguous r e l a t i o n to any imagined  s p e a k — b u t not j u s t  c o m p o s i t i o n , Bloom i s  c h a r a c t e r of t h a t name w i l l  works the t e x t a s s i g n s i t to speak.  be  she or i t appears  to  - 96  The  process of c h a r a c t e r - c r e a t i o n , the a s s i g n i n g of names to Bloom,  i s u l t i m a t e l y c o n t r o l l e d , at l e a s t author who will  -  t r a d i t i o n a l l y , by the p l a y w r i g h t or  a s s i g n s him h i s r o l e and determines  speak of him.  from Middlemarch  how  the o t h e r c h a r a c t e r s  In t h i s sense, U l y s s e s Is not fundamentally  i n which E l i o t uses Mrs.  f o r g o s s i p about W i l l .  Gadwallader  and o t h e r s as mediums  In f i c t i o n , through d i r e c t n a r r a t o r i a l comment, and  i n drama through the stage d i r e c t i o n s , the author may character d i r e c t l y .  different  In M o l l F l a n d e r s , Middlemarch  appear  to name the  and U l y s s e s , the weight  of these d i f f e r e n t ways of naming the c h a r a c t e r v a r i e s a c c o r d i n g to the r e l a t i v e a u t h o r i t y the reader a t t a c h e s to them, whence the urgent - attempts on the p a r t of c r i t i c s  to determine  the source of l i t e r a r y language  and  e s t a b l i s h i t s " t r u t h - c o n t e n t . " Thus, W i l l L a d i s l a w ' s rumoured a f f a i r  with  Rosamond, and Bloom's a l l e g e d n i g g a r d l y u n w i l l i n g n e s s to share the money he is  thought  to have won  on Throwaway, are seen by the reader as u n t r u e , and  t h e r e f o r e as u n c o n s t i t u t i v e of c h a r a c t e r . to Middlemarch,  But as we  have seen i n r e l a t i o n  and as " C i r c e " makes abundantly c l e a r , a l l such naming  creates character. What Bloom d e s c r i b e s as the "midsummer madness" of " C i r c e " i s r e a l l y j u s t a r u t h l e s s l y democratic demonstration of the p r i n c i p l e t h a t c r e a t i v e power o f a l l words i s e q u a l .  Perhaps  nowhere i s the suspension o f  the t r a d i t i o n a l c o n v e n t i o n of h i e r a r c h i c a l language stage d i r e c t i o n s .  The a u t h o r i t y of t h i s  the  so obvious as i n the  form of language  i s generally  beyond doubt; what i t says i n the c o n t e x t of the p l a y i s h e l d to be I f the stage d i r e c t i o n says, "Enter Hamlet wearing e n t e r wearing  true.  b l a c k , " then Hamlet  b l a c k ; i n drama, the p l a y w r i g h t i n h e r i t s C i r c e ' s a b i l i t y  t r a n s f o r m and metamorphose.  will to  But i n " C i r c e , " even t h i s c o n v e n t i o n i s upset  when the words of the c h a r a c t e r s determine what the stage d i r e c t i o n s  will  - 97 -  be: language, not the playwright, possesses the divine power to create and to transform. Typical of this reversal i s Bloom's mention of a gazelle: BLOOM: (Forlornly) I never loved a dear gazelle but i t was sure to . . . (Gazelles are leaping, feeding on the mountains.) (U, p. 454) Another i s his announcement of the new Bloomusalem: BLOOM: My beloved subjects, a new era i s about to dawn. I, Bloom, t e l l you v e r i l y i t i s even now at hand. Yea, on the word of a Bloom, ye s h a l l ere long enter into the golden c i t y which i s to be, the new Bloomusalem i n the Nova Hibernia of the future. (Thirtytwo workmen wearing rosettes, from a l l the counties of Ireland, under the guidance of Derwan the builder, construct the new Bloomusalem. I t i s a colossal e d i f i c e , with c r y s t a l roof, b u i l t i n the shape of a huge pork kidney.) (U, p. 459)  Bloom's transformations occur i n much the same way. He becomes exactly what Zoe names him: BLOOM: Laughing witch! The hand that rocks the cradle. ZOE: Babby! BLOOM: (In babylinen and p e l i s s e , bigheaded, with a caul of dark h a i r , fixes big eyes on her f l u i d s l i p and counts i t s bronze bunckles with a chubby finger, his moist tongue l o l l i n g and l i s p i n g ) One two t l e e : tlee tlwo tlone. (U, p. 469) And when his father speaks to him as a son, Bloom re-assumes his boyhood form: RUDOLPH: (Severely) One night they bring you home drunk as dog after spend your good money. What you c a l l them running chaps? BLOOM: (In youth's smart blue Oxford suit with white v e s t s l i p s , narrow-shouldered, i n brown Alpine hat, wearing  - 98 gent's s t e r l i n g s i l v e r waterbury k e y l e s s watch and double curb A l b e r t w i t h s e a l a t t a c h e d , one s i d e o f him coated w i t h s t i f f e n i n g mud) (U, p, 431)  And when "DR DIXON" says that P r o f e s s o r  Bloom, "a f i n i s h e d example o f the  new womanly man . . . i s about to have a baby," becomes  the p r o g n o s i s  immediately  reality:  BLOOM: 0, I so want to be a mother. MRS TH0RT0N: ( I n n u r s e t e n d e r ' s gown) Embrace me t i g h t , d e a r . Y o u ' l l be soon over i t . T i g h t , dear. (Bloom embraces her t i g h t l y and bears e i g h t male y e l l o w and white c h i l d r e n . ) (U. p. 465)  By the end o f " C i r c e , " the c l u s t e r o f s i g n s been arranged i n a s e r i e s of w i l d c o n f i g u r a t i o n s . baby, a woman.  Bloom i s a man, a boy, a  He i s a v a r i e t y o f h i s t o r i c a l personages, i n c l u d i n g C h r i s t ;  he walks through w a l l s i s protean.  that equals Bloom has  H i s ears  and hangs from a ledge by h i s e y e l i d s .  a r e sometimes human, sometimes those of an a s s . I n  s h o r t , Bloom i s a c l u s t e r o f s i g n s which does not r e s p e c t r e a l i t y external  to the t e x t .  Bloom i s a c h a r a c t e r  This  the l i m i t s o f any  L i k e THE SOAP, THE KISSES and THE BUCKLES,  c r e a t e d by naming.  L i k e any other word of the t e x t ,  "Bloom" can undergo many p l a y f u l t r a n f o r m a t i o n s value.  H i s wardrobe  without l o s i n g i t s exchange  i s e s t a b l i s h e d from the moment Bloom s e t s f o o t i n nighttown:  On the f a r t h e r s i d e under the r a i l w a y b r i d g e Bloom appears f l u s h e d , p a n t i n g , cramming bread and c h o c o l a t e i n t o a s i d e pocket. From G i l l e n ' s h a i r d r e s s e r ' s window a composite p o r t r a i t shows him g a l l a n t Nelson's image. A concave m i r r o r at the s i d e p r e s e n t s to him l o v e l o r n l o n g l o s t l u g u b r u Booloohoom. Grave Gladstone sees him l e v e l , Bloom f o r Bloom. He passes, s t r u c k by the s t a r e o f t r u c u l e n t W e l l i n g t o n but i n the convex m i r r o r g r i n u n s t r u c k the bonham eyes and f a t c h u c k cheekchops of J o l l y p o l d y the r i x d i x doldy. (U, p. 428)  - 99 -  The language i n "Circe" i s a m i r r o r — o f sorts.  The images i t  presents, however, do not r e f l e c t r e a l i t y as much as they create i t .  Once  character i s freed of the task of r e f l e c t i n g r e a l i t y outside of i t s e l f , i t s l i n g u i s t i c nature becomes the primary r e a l i t y : language becomes a character.  In other words, both the character-person and the character-  agent give way  to what we may  describe as the character-character.  The  character-character, as i t s tautological name suggests, i s a character that reveals i t s l i n g u i s t i c nature. The character-character i s not an easy fellow to l i v e with, and i t i s with a sign of r e l i e f that most readers witness Bloom's re-emergence i n the form of a character-person at the end of "Circe."  The language at the  beginning of "Eumaeus" appears to have assumed once again i t s t r a d i t i o n a l r e l a t i o n with r e a l i t y .  No such luck.  As i n "Cyclops" and "Circe,"  language of "Eumaeus" s t i l l constitutes the primary r e a l i t y .  the  Kenner n i c e l y  expresses this predominance of language over r e a l i t y when he writes: In the l a t t e r half of Ulysses styles are l i k e places: ports of c a l l , with their special sounds and atmospheres and customs, i n which the journeying hero l i n g e r s . With the return of apparent realism comes the re-emergence of the Homeric p a r a l l e l .  The narration of "Eumaeus" refers to Bloom as "our  hero," and reminds the reader that the hero's journey i s not yet accomplished:  "The best plan c l e a r l y being to clear out, the  remainder  being p l a i n s a i l i n g , he [Bloom] beckoned, while prudently pocketing the photo" (U_, p. 579). was  And l a t e r , "seeing that the ruse worked and the coast  clear, they [Stephen and Bloom] l e f t the shelter or shanty together"  22  Kenner, p.134.  - 100 -  (U_, p. 580). of  Both heroes c r o s s seas on t h e i r homeward j o u r n e y s .  Odysseus i s the winedark  language.  "His  hat  language  i n the o b j e c t i v e , s u b j e c t i v e and p o s s e s s i v e cases of the  Expressions l i k e (Parnell's)";  throughout  perils.  sea of "Eumaeus" i s plagued w i t h problems of r e f e r e n c e ,  particularly pronoun.  sea  sea of s h i p s ; the sea of Bloom i s the sea o f  Each has i t s own  The  The  and  "His (Stephen's) mind"; "her (the l a d y ' s ) eyes"; "he purposed  the c h a p t e r (U, pp. 533,  573,  (Bloom 585).  d i d ) " are i n t e r s p e r s e d These h i n t s t h a t  the  i s not c a p t u r i n g the r e a l i t y of Bloom's p r o g r e s s down D u b l i n  s t r e e t s are confirmed p r e c i s e l y a t that p o i n t when i t appears decorum to g i v e us the r e a l i t y o f a horse's  to f l a u n t  defecation:  The h o r s e , having reached the end of h i s t e t h e r , so to speak, h a l t e d , and r e a r i n g h i g h a proud f e a t h e r i n g t a i l , added h i s quota by l e t t i n g f a l l on the f l o o r , which the brush would soon brush up and p o l i s h , three smoking globes of turds. (U, p. 585)  T h i s i m p r e c i s i o n of r e f e r e n t and gender t h r e a t e n s Bloom's r e - a c q u i r e d s t a t u s as c h a r a c t e r - p e r s o n . and Bloom, making t h e i r way range of r e a l i s t i c men  By the end of the c h a p t e r ,  Stephen  s l o w l y home, b e g i n to move once more out of the  language.  supposedly w a l k i n g toward  For i t s p a r t , the language  abandons the  the b r i d g e and becomes p l a y f u l l y  self-reflexive:  The d r i v e r never s a i d a word, good, bad or i n d i f f e r e n t . He merely watched the two f i g u r e s , as he sat on h i s lowbacked car, both b l a c k — o n e f u l l , one l e a n — w a l k towards the r a i l w a y b r i d g e , t o be m a r r i e d by F a t h e r Maher. As they walked, they at times stopped and walked a g a i n , c o n t i n u i n g t h e i r t g t e a te~te (which of course he was u t t e r l y out o f ) , about s i r e n s , enemies of man's reason, mingled w i t h a number of other t o p i c s of the same c a t e g o r y , u s u r p e r s , h i s t o r i c a l cases o f the k i n d w h i l e the man i n the sweeper car or you might as w e l l c a l l i t i n the s l e e p e r c a r who i n any case c o u l d n ' t  two  - 101 possibly hear because they were too far simply sat i n his seat near the end of lower Gardiner street and looked a f t e r t h e i r lowbacked car. (U, p. 586)  The action of the characters moving in Dublin i s replaced by the action of the language which c a l l s i t s e l f into question by turning inward 23  and r e f e r r i n g back to an e a r l i e r a l l u s i o n to an I r i s h song. The ending of the chapter reminds us that in Ulysses language i t s e l f i s the Sirens' song—the "enemy to man's reason." "Ithaca" marks Bloom's return to a language even more r e a l i s t i c than that of "Calypso," his point of departure.  The style of the chapter, the  catechism, i s a method of Instruction by questions and answers that purports to discover the truth.  The great irony of the chapter i s that the  closer Bloom moves to the end of his odyssey, the more the apparent o b j e c t i v i t y of the language increases, the more he disappears as a character-person.  This state of a f f a i r s suggests that the real disguise of  the hero (language or character-character) has been the character-person a l l along.  The closer the language of the text comes to describing Bloom,  the more c l e a r l y he disappears as a character-person replete with i d i o s y n c r a t i c personality, leaving behind only the words that create instead of describe him. Bloom's e s s e n t i a l l y l i t e r a r y nature i s revealed once again through the Homeric p a r a l l e l when he arrives outside his home and realizes that he has forgotten his key.  The narration informs the reader that Bloom i s  faced with the following a l t e r n a t i v e s . or not to knock."  "To enter or not to enter, To knock  He i s faced here with three d i f f e r e n t roles: 1) he can,  l i k e Hamlet, agonize and temporize over his decision; 2) he can play the 23  Don G i f f o r d , with Robert J. Seidman, Notes f o r Joyce: An Annotation of James Joyce's Ulysses (New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1974), p. 459.  - 102 -  r o l e of a person and knock; or 3) he can play the familiar role of Odysseus and employ his nimble wits: Bloom's decision? A stratagem. (JJ, p.  588)  Predictably enough, the Homeric p a r a l l e l functions to suspend the conventions of realism and replace them with the l i t e r a r y convention of the Odyssey.  Bloom's "decision" i s not a decision at a l l ; the choice has  already been made by Odysseus. As he journeys through "Ithaca," Bloom fades progressively into the language of the text.  The closer he gets to home, the more he sheds the  trappings of the character-person.  Stephen sees him "through the  transparent kitchen panes" as: a man regulating a gasflame of 14 C P, a man l i g h t i n g a candle, a man removing in turn each of his two boots, a man leaving the kitchen holding a candle of 1 C P. (U, p. 589) Even this vague view of the character-person recedes when Bloom returns inside the house after Stephen's departure.  Bloom intends to make his way  to bed; his t r i a l s as a character-person, however, are not yet over: What suddenly arrested his ingress? The right temporal lobe of the hollow sphere of his cranium came into contact with a s o l i d timber angle where, an i n f i n i t e s i m a l but sensible f r a c t i o n of a second l a t e r , a painful sensation was located in consequence of antecedent sensations transmitted and registered. (U, p. 626) The cold f a c t u a l i t y of this language would impress even Thomas Gradgrind: i t sends the character-person into the space of the l i t e r a r y universe. By the time Bloom enters the bed, the true place of Odysseus' homecoming, he i s ready to assume the form of a depersonalized segment, of  -  103 -  note o n l y f o r i t s r e l a t i o n t o the equator:  In what d i r e c t i o n s d i d l i s t e n e r and n a r r a t o r l i e ? L i s t e n e r , S.E. by E.; N a r r a t o r , N.W. by W.: on the 53rd p a r a l l e l o f l a t i t u d e , N. and 6 t h m e r i d i a n o f l o n g i t u d e , W.: at an angle o f 45° t o the t e r r e s t r i a l equator. (U_, p. 657)  The  i n a c c u r a c y o f the g e o g r a p h i c a l d e s c r i p t i o n , noted  by Don G i f f o r d i s  t y p i c a l o f many o b j e c t i v e , a p p a r e n t l y a c c u r a t e d e s c r i p t i o n s o f r e a l i t y i n 24  "Ithaca." "both  These, combined w i t h the d i z z y i n g d e s c r i p t i o n o f the Blooms  c a r r i e d westward . . . by the proper  (the e a r t h a c t u a l l y r o t a t e s eastward),  p e r p e t u a l motion o f the e a r t h "  r e i n f o r c e a t the end what has been  implicit  from the b e g i n n i n g :  foremost  i n r e l a t i o n to the r e s t o f the l i t e r a r y u n i v e r s e .  questions  the language o f the t e x t e x i s t s f i r s t and  and answers o f the chapter  The c l o s i n g  d r i v e t h i s p o i n t home w i t h c o n v i c t i o n .  With the q u e s t i o n "In what p o s t u r e ? " we move away from the r e a l i s t i c bed  outward t o a m y t h o l o g i c a l view o f M o l l y as a f u s i o n of Greek and Roman  e a r t h goddesses (Gaea and T e l l u s Mater r e s p e c t i v e l y ) , and a view o f Bloom as an image o f h i m s e l f .  Both o f these p e r s p e c t i v e s confound n o t i o n s o f  r e a l time, d u r a t i o n and p l a c e .  Under the i n f l u e n c e o f t h i s language, Bloom  becomes a u n i t y o f o p p o s i t e s , "the childman weary, the manchild  i n the  womb."  r e l a t i o n to  The response does s t i l l  bear a m e t a p h o r i c a l  o r symbolic  r e a l i t y , i n that Bloom c o u l d indeed be weary because o f h i s t r a v e l s Dublin.  The next  set of questions  corroboration of this  reading:  Womb? Weary? He r e s t s . He has t r a v e l l e d .  2 l +  and answers may be construed as  G i f f o r d , p. 494.  (U, p. 658)  through  - 104  -  But the remaining questions and answers belie this interpretation and reveal the true nature of Bloom's journey. The question "With?" which presumably refers to Bloom's companion i n t r a v e l , i s met with a response that turns i t s back on Dublin and s a i l s o f f on a voyage of rhyme:  Sinbad J a i l e r and Finbad the and Minbad Railer and Linbad the  the Sailor and Tinbad the T a i l o r and Jinbad the Whinbad the Whaler and Ninbad the Nailer and F a i l e r and Binbad the Bailer and Pinbad the P a i l e r the Mailer and Hinbad the Hailer and Rinbad the Dinbad the K a i l e r and Vinbad the Quailer and Y a i l e r and Xindbad the Phthailer. (U, p. 658)  This whimsical response has l i t t l e to do with any r e a l i t y other than i t s e l f as a self-generated series of words rhyming more or less with "Sinbad the Sailor."  The series i s p o t e n t i a l l y l i m i t l e s s , but the author, who no doubt  f e e l s that his reader has borne enough hardship, comes to the rescue.  We  can almost hear him " p u l l the plug" on his homecoming s a i l o r with the f i n a l "Xinbad the Phthailer" (emphasis mine). The idea that Bloom has been t r a v e l l i n g in the company of language i s reinforced by the next question, "When?" which sets Bloom and the language of the text free from the r e s t r i c t i o n s of time and place: Going to a dark bed there was a square round Sinbad the S a i l e r roc's auk's egg in the night of the bed of a l l the auks of the rocs of Darkinbad the Brightdayler. (U_, p. 658) The dangling modifier, the ambiguity of tense, the juxtaposition of noun/verb, square/round, s i n g u l a r / p l u r a l , dark/bright; and of the h i s t o r i c a l but now extinct bird of the north, the auk, with the mythical Egyptian b i r d , the r o c — a l l of these contribute to produce a simultaneous contraction and expansion, s p e c i f i c a t i o n and universalization, of  -  language. an end.  With language now  1 0 5  -  at center stage, Bloom's journey i s almost at  It i s completed precisely at that moment when the l a s t vestige of  Bloom's disguise as a character-person  i s cast off and his true i d e n t i t y as  a l i t e r a r y character i s f i n a l l y revealed.  Where i s this character?  Where?  Bloom's odyssey, l i k e that of Odysseus, ends when the wandering hero returns to his home.  Odysseus' home i s the island of Ithaca.  dot of ink on the page.  Bloom's i s a  In answer to the l a s t question of the catechism of  "Ithaca," Joyce f i n a l l y t e l l s the truth about Molldopeloob:  "Bloom" i s a  l i n g u i s t i c sign, a "character." This revelation has been unfolding from the beginning of Bloom's odyssey i n "Calypso" where a l l u s i o n s to the Homeric p a r a l l e l f i r s t attention from his wanderings as a character-person Dublin to his voyage as a character-agent  shift  through the streets of  whose words and actions are  p a r t i a l l y determined r e l a t i v e to the l i t e r a r y realm. the r e a l i s t i c view of character i s accentuated  This s h i f t away from  in "Cyclops" where Joyce  uses the Homeric p a r a l l e l to show that the " I " of the  character-person,  l i k e the "eye" of the Cyclops, i s a point-of-view, a s t y l e .  Through such  reference to the l i t e r a r y realm, Joyce liberates the language of character from both a human source and a human referent and reveals Bloom as a configuration of signs created through naming.  As the riotous naming i n  "Circe" suggests, the undermining of the conventions  of the character-  person leads to the appearance of language as a creative power in Its own right.  The realism of "Eumaeus" and "Ithaca" re-creates the character-  - 106 -  person, thus reminding of  the reader that Bloom's voyage i s through the galaxy  styles that make up the novel and preparing him for the ultimate  disappearance  of this same character-person.  James Maddox has suggested  that "The progression of Ulysses may  described as a series of t r i a l s of character. . . .  be  As Ulysses moves  toward i t s ending, i t s styles move further and further away from intimate 2 5  contact with the characters."  His r e a l i s t i c reading of character misses  the p o i n t — l i t e r a l l y and f i g u r a t i v e l y — o f the ending of "Ithaca" because i t i n s i s t s on i d e n t i f y i n g the language of character with human personality. If we wish to read Ulysses as a t r i a l of character, then i t must be as a t r i a l of the character-person, of the i l l u s i o n created by the language of character at the cost of i t s own v i s i b i l i t y .  When Joyce upsets the  conventional character-person he reveals i t as an i l l u s i o n created through naming; he makes the reader see that characters are s t y l e s , and not essences beyond or behind them.  If the styles i n the l a t t e r half of  Ulysses do anything at a l l , they bring the reader closer to character as a kind of language. If we are to see Bloom, as Levitt suggests we are, as a symbol of fertility,  i t i s surely at or i n the f i n a l point of his odyssey, the point  in and from which Leopold blooms to cook his delectable calf-kidneys i n "Calypso," to bear her metallic children in "Circe" and, preparatory to the end of his voyage and his obscure revelation, to climb into bed with Molly, or i s i t Moll? . . .  "the one from Flanders a whore always s h o p l i f t i n g  anything she could cloth and stuff and yards of i t " (U, p. 677).  Bloom's  James Maddox, Joyce's Ulysses and the Assault Upon Character Jersey: Rutgers Univ. Press, 1978), pp. 16, 128.  (New  -  face i s i n f i n i t e l y  more f e r t i l e  107 -  than t h a t of the c h a r a c t e r - p e r s o n .  the f a c e o f c h a r a c t e r : the face of Nobody.  His i s  -  108 -  CONCLUSION  F o r s t e r ' s r e a l i s t i c view of c h a r a c t e r cannot e x p l a i n , l e t alone a p p r e c i a t e , the u n e q u i v o c a l Bloom.  Nor can i t e x p l a i n the s u b t l e disappearance  language t h a t i s M o l l . identifying of  appearance i n U l y s s e s of the language t h a t i s  The reason f o r both  f a i l u r e s i s t h a t , by n a i v e l y  n o v e l i s t i c c h a r a c t e r w i t h human p e r s o n a l i t y , the r e a l i s t i c  c h a r a c t e r i g n o r e s the l i n g u i s t i c nature  c h a r a c t e r is_ a k i n d o f language. and  i n M o l l F l a n d e r s of t h e  to the l i t e r a r y realm;  of c h a r a c t e r a l t o g e t h e r .  view  But  As such, i t e x i s t s r e l a t i v e to the world  i t i s w r i t t e n and read r e l a t i v e t o c u l t u r a l  conventions  and b e l i e f s about the world  on one hand, and to l i t e r a r y  conventions  of genre and form on the o t h e r .  Only by approaching  character  w i t h t h i s r e a l i s t i c view o f d i s c o u r s e can one hope to do equal j u s t i c e t o M o l l F l a n d e r s , W i l l L a d i s l a w and Leopold  Bloom.  A l l three are c o n v e n t i o n a l  c o n f i g u r a t i o n s of language p a r t i a l l y c r e a t e d by the n o v e l ' s  subversive  a p p e t i t e f o r i n c o r p o r a t i n g and undermining t r a d i t i o n a l l i t e r a r y conventions,  though each m a n i f e s t s  on the a r t i s t i c  this fact  to d i f f e r i n g degrees depending  i n t e n t i o n s of i t s a u t h o r .  In M o l l F l a n d e r s , Defoe uses the language of c h a r a c t e r to c r e a t e an autonomous c h a r a c t e r - p e r s o n .  He h i g h l i g h t s the r e l a t i o n of c h a r a c t e r to  the w o r l d by c r e a t i n g the i l l u s i o n t h a t i t d e s c r i b e s a r e a l woman l i v i n g i n the world  of eighteenth-century  England.  freedom of speech r e q u i r e d f o r the t e l l i n g strengthen  He pretends  t h a t M o l l enjoys the  of h e r own s t o r y .  In order t o  the i l l u s i o n o f M o l l ' s personhood and the t r a n s p a r e n c e  language t h a t makes i t p o s s i b l e , Defoe i n c o r p o r a t e s and undermines elements o f p i c a r e s q u e  of the certain  f i c t i o n i n such a way as to underplay M o l l ' s debt to  -  109  -  the l i t e r a r y realm, to divert the reader's attention from the fact that she i s written at a l l .  Thus, Moll's remarkable autonomy as a character-person  i s due to Defoe's success i n disguising the fact that she i s p a r t i a l l y created by the undermining of picaresque l i t e r a r y conventions and i s therefore a l i t e r a r y convention herself, albeit a novel one. E l i o t ' s use of W i l l Ladislaw as her agent i n Middlemarch reduces his autonomy as a character-person and makes i t abundantly free to t e l l his own  story.  clear that he i s not  By using him as a key figure i n her  conspicuously sustained upsetting of romance conventions, E l i o t s h i f t s the reader's attention from the i l l u s i o n that W i l l Is a person l i v i n g i n nineteenth-century p r o v i n c i a l England to the fact that he i s a l i t e r a r y construct, a mixed "cluster of signs" created p a r t i a l l y by the very romance conventions he i s used to undermine.  In contrast to Defoe's upsetting of  picaresque conventions i n Moll Flanders, E l i o t ' s undermining of romance conventions i n Middlemarch illuminates the r e l a t i o n of character to the l i t e r a r y realm and thus i n i t i a t e s the appearance of the language of character.  If she stops short of making this language emerge as an object  worthy of thematic attention by ultimately subordinating Will's function as a character-agent to his role as a character-person, she nevertheless reveals the character-person as a l i t e r a r y convention which depends for i t s v i t a l i t y upon an author's success at underplaying i t s l i t e r a r y nature and thus keeping the language of character transparent. In Ulysses, Joyce d e f i n i t i v e l y upsets the conventions of the character-person i n order to make the language of character appear as an autonomous entity worthy of thematic concern.  Following E l i o t ' s lead i n  Middlemarch, he sets about accomplishing his goal by s h i f t i n g the reader's  -  110  -  attention from the i l l u s i o n of Bloom's wanderings as a person along Dublin streets to his voyage as a character-agent following i n the footsteps of Homer's Odysseus.  Having made i t clear that Bloom i s created i n part from  the conventions of Homer's epic, Joyce further undermines the i l l u s i o n of the character-person and the transparence of the language which creates i t by doing away with the conventional notion that, l i k e Moll, Bloom i s capable of t e l l i n g the story of his l i f e .  To this end, he uses the Homeric  p a r a l l e l of the "eye" of the Cyclops to draw the " I " of the character-person into the l i t e r a r y realm and to expose i t as just point-of-view, just another s t y l e .  another  Once this c r u c i a l " I " of the  character-person i s estabished as a name l i k e any other, character can appear as a configuration of signs created through naming: language can become a character. The examples of Moll Flanders, Middlemarch and Ulysses suggest that a given character may  occupy any position along the gradient between the  extreme positions marked by the disappearance language of character.  and the appearance of the  If the three novels studied here are any  i n d i c a t i o n , a character's position between or at these extremes i s i t s e l f e n t i r e l y a matter of convention.  Conventions  of character i n the novel  may  be expected to change from h i s t o r i c a l period to h i s t o r i c a l period, from c u l t u r a l context to c u l t u r a l context, from novel to novel and, as Bloom's odyssey makes clear, from page to page within a given novel. i s v i r t u a l l y guaranteed  Such change  by the novel's appetite for undermining t r a d i t i o n a l  l i t e r a r y conventions of any kind.  This upsetting of convention can  function to underplay what character owes to l i t e r a t u r e and make language disappear into the i l l u s i o n of the character-person which allows us to know about ourselves.  But i t also has the potential to highlight the l i t e r a r y  - Ill -  nature of character, to free language from its descriptive subservience to reality and to reveal the character-character which allows us to appreciate the ways we come to know about ourselves through fiction.  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