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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 Michael Vanderham B.A. The Un 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 i n THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Department of English We accept t h i s thesis as conforming to the required standard Professor John Hulcoop Professor P a t r i c i a Merivale Professor E l l i o t t Gose THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA March 1984 ®Paul Michael Vanderham, 1984 In presenting t h i s thesis i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the Library s h a l l make i t f r e e l y available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of t h i s thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. I t i s understood that copying or publication of t h i s thesis for f i n a n c i a l gain s h a l l not be allowed without my written permission. P a u l M. Vanderham Department of E n g l i s h The University of B r i t i s h Columbia 1956 Main Mall Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Y3 Date 28 March 1984 DE-6 (.3/81) ABSTRACT Through an examination of Moll Flanders, Middlemarch and Ulysses, t h i s t h e s i s attempts to demonstrate the l i m i t a t i o n s inherent 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 character with human character or personality. It i s based on the idea that character i s a kind of language written and read r e l a t i v e to conventions 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 of words; character necessarily r e f e r s to and i s necessar i l y informed by c u l t u r a l conventions and b e l i e f s about man and the world on one hand, and l i t e r a r y conventions of genre or form on the other. While every n o v e l i s t i c character 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 conventions, the apparent importance of these respective conventions may vary considerably according to the a r t i s t i c intentions of an author. The novels chosen for study here permit the del i n e a t i o n of two extreme p o s s i b i l i t i e s of aut h o r i a l i n t e n t i o n where the language of character i s concerned. These correspond roughly to the disappearance and the appearance of character as language. In between these extremes l i e s a conceptually useful point of t r a n s i t i o n which marks the emergence of the language of character and explains i t s unequivocal appearance as a r e a l i z a t i o n of n o v e l i s t i c p o t e n t i a l . In Moll Flanders, Defoe creates the i l l u s i o n of an autonomous person, the "character-person," by appealing to c u l t u r a l conventions of human behavior according to which Moll i s capable of t e l l i n g her own story, of being both subject and object of the language that a c t u a l l y creates her. He strengthens t h i s i l l u s i o n by incorporating and undermining elements of picaresque f i c t i o n , thus suggesting that Moll i s not written at a l l . In Middlemarch, E l i o t attenuates the i l l u s i o n of the character-person and allows for the emergence - i i i -of the language of character by visibly using Will Ladislaw as an agent, a "character-agent," whose role as a parodic romance hero is visible relative to the literary realm. Eliot's sustained use of Will in the upsetting of romance conventions shifts 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 traditional 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 is soon shown to be an agent whose role is partially determined by Homer's Odysseus. The shift 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 linguistic 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 occupy any position between the extremes marked by the disappearance and the appearance of the language of character and that any such position is entirely a matter of convention. Movement from one extreme to the other would seem to be assured by the novel's appetite for undermining traditional literary conventions of any kind. This upsetting of convention can underplay what a character owes to literary 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 literary conventions and make language appear as an object in i t s e l f . Character i t s e l f can remind us that character i s , after a l l , language. - i v -TABLE OF CONTENTS Page Acknowledgements.. v Introduction 1 Chapter One: C r i t i c a l Introduction 5 Chapter Two: Moll Flanders as Character-Person 22 Chapter Three: W i l l Ladislaw as Character-Agent 44 Chapter Four: Bollopedom as Character-Character 76 Conclusion • 108 Bibliography 112 - v -ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS For whatever there is of value in this thesis I thank my advisor, John Hulcoop, for his generous, thought-provoking comments on the rough drafts and, far more importantly, for inspiring in me as an undergraduate a good feeling for poetry which I w i l l always cherish. I am also grateful to my readers, Patricia 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 i n f e l i c i t y . " I am especially grateful to Ellen, my wife, for aiding me in my struggle with the MIA Handbook, for sitting with me on the grass outside the library when I couldn't bear to go inside, and for helping me keep the thesis in perspective. Finally, I would like to thank my friends and my family for tolerating my thinking aloud on the subject of character over the last eleven months. I gratefully acknowledge the summer fellowship I was granted by U.B.C. to work on this thesis. - 1 -INTRODUCTION If "the idea of character has f a l l e n on hard times," the blame can be squarely l a i d on the shoulders of c r i t i c s who i n s i s t on i d e n t i f y i n g n o v e l i s t i c character with conceptions of human character or p e r s o n a l i t y . 1 Foremost among these c r i t i c s , at l e a s t i n recent times, i s E. M. Forster whose d e s c r i p t i o n of characters as "people" raises i t s troublesome head i n o many handbooks to L i t e r a t u r e . Forster, of course, along with the handbook writers who follow his lead, knows p e r f e c t l y well that character i s language, but his d e f i n i t i o n , by metaphorically i d e n t i f y i n g the language of character with the i l l u s i o n i t t r a d i t i o n a l l y creates, e f f e c t i v e l y ignores t h i s fact 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 into a study of psychology or e t h i c s . Without denying that authors often do use the language of character to create the i l l u s i o n of personality, the l i m i t s to t h i s c o n s t r i c t i v e approach to character can e a s i l y be demonstrated. An analysis of character which hopes to be equally useful when applied to Moll Flanders, Middlemarch and Ulysses must ignore Forster's d e f i n i t i o n and base i t s e l f f i r m l y on the premise that character i s a kind of language. As such, character i s both written and read r e l a t i v e to two main bodies of convention, one of which originates i n the world of r e a l i t y and the other i n the world of words; character necessarily re f e r s to and i s necess a r i l y informed by c u l t u r a l conventions and b e l i e f s about man and the ^Shirley Robin Letwin, "Finished and Unfinished Selves," rev. of The Test of Character: From the V i c t o r i a n Novel to the Modern, by Baruch Hochman, Times L i t e r a r y Supplement, 30 December, 1983, p. 1447. 2 E. M. Forster, Aspects of the Novel (Middlesex: Penguin, 1962), pp. 54-84. - 2 -world on one hand, and l i t e r a r y conventions of genre and form on the other. But, while every n o v e l i s t i c character exists i n r e l a t i o n to both c u l t u r a l and l i t e r a r y conventions, the apparent importance of these respective conventions may vary considerably depending on the a r t i s t i c i n tentions of an author. The novels chosen for study here permit the de l i n e a t i o n of two extreme p o s s i b i l i t i e s of authorial i n t e n t i o n where the language of character i s concerned. These correspond roughly to the disappearance and the appearance of character as language. In between these two extremes l i e s a conceptually valuable point of t r a n s i t i o n which marks the emergence of the language of character and which explains the f i n a l unequivocal 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 p o t e n t i a l . Defoe uses the language of character i n Moll Flanders to create the i l l u s i o n of an autonomous person, the "character-person." To t h i s end, he disguises Moll's l i n g u i s t i c nature by f i r s t appealing to c u l t u r a l conventions of pl a u s i b l e human behavior, the most important of which i s undoubtedly her a b i l i t y to say " I , " to appear as both the subject and the object, the source and referent, of the language that a c t u a l l y constitutes her. Next, Defoe strengthens the i l l u s i o n of Moll's personhood by incorporating and subsequently undermining conventional elements of picaresque f i c t i o n . This technique asserts Moll's r e a l i t y as a person r e l a t i v e to the l i t e r a r y realm by suggesting that she i s not a conventional l i t e r a r y construct, that she i s not written at a l l . Moll's apparent autonomy and the transparence of the language of character go hand i n hand; they both depend upon Defoe's success i n pretending he does not create and use Moll for his a r t i s t i c purposes, but merely describes her. - 3 -In Middlemarch, Eliot attenuates the i l l u s i o n of the character-person and allows for the emergence of the language of character by visibly using Will Ladislaw as her agent in the telling of her, not his, story. Will's agency, his role as a "character-agent," appears relative to the literary realm. It is determined by Eliot's intention to upset or parody the conventions of romance. Whereas Defoe's occasional upsetting of picaresque conventions underplays what Moll owes to literature and asks that she be read as a real person inhabiting a real world, Eliot's sustained and highly visible upsetting of romance conventions shifts attention from the world to the literary realm and shows Ladislaw to be a literary character created through the upsetting of traditional literary conventions. If, like Defoe, Eliot ultimately uses traditional literary conventions to heighten the realism of her novel, i t is equally true that in doing so, unlike Defoe, she reveals the character-person as a linguistic "cluster of signs" which, along with novelistic realism, is i t s e l f a convention. 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 livi n g in Dublin, but a series of Homeric allusions soon reveal him to be a character-agent whose role i s partially determined by the words and actions of Odysseus, his literary progenitor. The shift in emphasis from the world to the literary realm initiated by the Homeric parallel in Ulysses is far more pronounced than that encouraged by romance convention in Middlemarch, which is not surprising given the differing referents of the two t i t l e s . 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 character-person 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 i n the novel i s f i r s t and foremost a type of language—a p r i v i l e g e d type, perhaps, but language nonetheless. Thus, F.R. Leavis reminds us that "we ta l k of a nov e l i s t as 'creating characters', but the process of creating i s one of putting words together." 1 Etymology supports t h i s c r i t i c a l perspective: "character" i s l i t e r a l l y "a graphic sign or symbol standing for a sound, s y l l a b l e or notion; e.g. a l e t t e r of the alphabet (Chinese or Runic characters); ( 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 " (OED). If the l i n g u i s t i c nature of character i s too obvious to warrant mention, then so i s our tendency to obscure the obvious when we discuss character. Neither, i n f a c t , i s too obvious. We often stray from the t r a d i t i o n a l idea that the language of character imitates, describes, or creates the i l l u s i o n of, persons l i k e ourselves, into the f a l l a c y of assuming that we speak of persons when we speak of characters: "we a l l of us, grave or l i g h t , get our thoughts entangled i n metaphors." 2 A p a r t i a l explanation of the ease with which readers can see through the language of character to persons apparently being described can be found i n the everyday use of prose i t s e l f . In being "used for the common purpose of l i f e . . . ," writes 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 shoulders; has answered l e t t e r s , paid b i l l s , written a r t i c l e s , made speeches, served the needs of businessmen, F. R. Leavis, Introd., Towards Standards of C r i t i c i s m ( B r i s t o l : Wishart & Co., 1933), p. 16. 2 George E l i o t , Middlemarch (Boston: Houghton M i f f l i n Company, 1956), p. 63. - 6 -shopkeepers, lawyers, soldiers, peasants." The "dirty work" of prose consists, no doubt, of the thankless s e r v i l i t y required of a language used primarily for its a b i l i t y to describe reality. And to be useful in the marketplace, prose must remain at the service of it s referent: a contract between one businessman wanting to s e l l ten tractors and another interested in buying them is impossible without a shared belief that the tractors exist (or w i l l exist) as described. The prose of the contract, i f i t is to be effective, must refer to reality as i t is mutually perceived according to "common sense": "tractor" must describe a real machine capable of pulling plows. The language of novelistic character, however, differs essentially from the referential language of the contract, because In literature, questions of fact and truth are subordinated to the primary literary 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 literary works, the appearance of truthfulness and factuality (plausibility of a character's action, likeness between a character and an historical personage) is carefully cultivated, but this appearance i s illusory: in literature, writes Northrop Frye, "the reality-principle 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 is under no obligation to t e l l the truth i s Virginia Woolf, "The Narrow Bridge of Art," Collected Essays, Vol. II (London: The Hogarth Press, 1966), p. 223. Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism (Princeton, P.U.P., 1957), pp. 74, 75. - 7 -made explicit in his calling his work a fic t i o n : that which i s , in some sense, not true. In bookstores, readers find novels under signs that read "Fiction," which suggests that we traditionally 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 in a literary work is an example of a convention: "the accepted postulate, the contract agreed upon by the reader before he can start reading, is the same 5 thing as a convention." Convention—whether traditional 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 practical purposes, meaningless. Conventions governing the reading and writing of novelistic character can be divided into three categories, even though the boundaries between these categories are often far from distinct; s t i l l , for the purposes of analysis we may speak of natural, cultural and literary conventions. Natural conventions account for those aspects of existence perfectly comprehensible on the basis of instinctive common sense. Language that f a l l s into this category is "discourse which requires no ju 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 in his mouth for sustenance is easily understood by the reader because a l l persons act similarly in order to assuage their hunger; such an action is so natural that the very idea of i t s depending on convention for i t s 5 Frye, p. 76. 6Jonathan Culler, Structuralist Poetics (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1975), p. 140. - 8 -comprehensibility seems incongruous. Cultural conventions account for those aspects of the world that require explanation or justification; they take the form of knowledge and beliefs shared by some, but not a l l persons. A character who w i l l not stop eating after his appetite has been satisfied can only be understood by appealing to conventions of, say, religion, psychology or biology, according to which the character would be gluttonous, orally-fixated or suffering from a digestive disorder. As Roland Barthes argues in Mythologies, the distinction between the natural and the cultural is often intentionally blurred; champions of a particular cultural convention (liberalism, marxism) virtually always seek respectability by aspiring to 7 the unquestioned truth of the natural. Literary 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 literature. Through the experience of literary texts, we acquire expectations based on conceptions of form or genre, or on the relation of a text to others of i t s kind or to another specific text; in short, we learn to read, to travel in what Frye calls the "literary universe." Literary conventions, writes Culler, dictate that "the reader attends to character in a different way i f he is reading a tragedy or i f he is reading a comedy which he expects to end in multiple g marriages." It follows that the character who eats at a marriage feast at the end of a fiction 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. 8Culler, p. 147. - 9 -Because they spring from literature i t s e l f , literary conventions determine the relevance of both natural and cultural conventions to the reading of novelistic character. For example, although a character may appear to be a person, he may—and often does—see without eyes, rebel without s p i r i t , repent without conscience. He is capable of these "miracles" precisely because he is words on a page, no more and no less: "The unspoken word is 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, self. That inference destroys the metaphor (a pure synecdoche), since his thumbs are a l l he seems to be. Mr. Mulholland is monumentally clumsy, but i f you f i l T h i m in behind his thumbs, clumsiness w i l l not ensue. Distinguishing natural and cultural conventions from their literary counterparts in the novel is a d i f f i c u l t task. One reason is that the novel is both a cultural and a literary artifact. Another, more important, reason is that the novel is a literary form which traditionally attempts to pass for natural, truthful, 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 cultural conventions of i t s audience. Novelistic realism is s t i l l a literary convention, but one that enjoys the unique privilege of appearing to be convention-free, thus making the very idea of linguistic a r t i f i c e or literary convention seem William H. Gass, "The Medium of Fiction," Fiction and the Figures  of Life (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1970), p. 46. misplaced, i f not plain heartless. The novel however belongs to literature as much as i t belongs to the world, and i t s literariness adds another dimension to our perception of i t . According to Menachem Brinker, in the novel, as in 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 relative to the habits and expections of i t s audience. From a literary perspective, we can recognize that one of the basic conventions of the novel is i t s tendency to build on or to incorporate other literary forms: the novel, says Woolf, is "a cannibal which has 12 devoured so many forms of art" and w i l l devour "even more." Thus, one way the novel creates the impression of i t s own novelty is by incorporating elements of epic, tragedy, comedy, romance, picaresque f i c t i o n , autobiography, l y r i c poetry, and then upsetting these traditional forms through parody. From this perspective, the upsetting or breaking of traditional forms can be seen as a convention in i t s e l f — o n e that may well be closer to the novel's heart than the impression of reality i t often creates; realism, too, is a convention that can be stood on i t s head. Perhaps nowhere are the literary and cultural aspects of the novel so inextricably interwoven as in the language of character, and perhaps no For an interesting discussion of the novel as a cultural 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 Beliefs," New  Literary History, Vol. XIV, No. 2 (Winter, 1983), p. 255. Anyone interested in the debate over convention, both social and literary, 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 cultural sense, "character" is "the sum of moral and mental qualities which distinguish an individual," or account for his status as a person, for his personality (OED). That this sense has infiltrated the literary sense of the word can be seen by referring to virtually any handbook of literature. In A Glossary of Literary Terms, for example, Abrams defines characters as "the persons in a dramatic or narrative work" 1 3 (emphasis mine). E. M. Forster implies a similar view in his choice of t i t l e for the chapters of Aspects of the Novel that deal with character: "Since the characters in a story are usually human, i t seemed convenient to entitle this aspect People.' The lack of any clear literary sense in "literary" definitions of character reflects the traditional predominance of r e a l i s t i c convention or, as the writer of a recent article on character puts i t of, "the conventional assumption that character is readable only when grounded in the specific ideology of psychological coherence [which] equates 'character' with the principle of i n t e l l i g i b l e behavior i t traditionally i l l u s t r a t e s . " 1 5 This "conventional assumption" produces what Barthes calls a "r e a l i s t i c view of character," a view shared by many cr i t i c s who write M. H. Abrams, A Glossary of Literary Terms (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., 1971), p. 21. m E. M. Forster, Aspects of the Novel (Middlesex: Penguin, 1962), p. 54. 1 5Steven Cohan, "Readable Character," Novel, Vol. 17, No. 1 ( F a l l , 1983), p. 7. - 12 -a b o u t n o v e l i s t i c c h a r a c t e r . I n T h e C r e a t i o n o f C h a r a c t e r i n L i t e r a t u r e , f o r e x a m p l e , G a l s w o r t h y w r i t e s t h a t 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 a s t h e c h i e f m o t i v e a nd 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 be 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 f i n e w r i t i n g , v e r b a l d i a l e c t i c s , v i b r a t i o n a l r e p r o d u c t i o n s o f l i f e , o r e v e n b y t h o s e 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 . T h e r e i s , f o r i n s t a n c e , a d e e p c r a v i n g i n m o s t o f us t o h a v e i n t e r e s t i n o n e s e l f f r o m t i m e t o t i m e r e p l a c e d b y 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 . T h i s c r a v i n g 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 . J o h n B a y l e y , who a d m i t s t h a t h i s c o n c l u s i o n s a b o u t c h a r a c t e r m u s t r e m a i n "embedded i n t h e c o n c e p t i o n o f p e r s o n a l i t y , " s h a r e s G a l s w o r t h y ' s v i e w : 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 i n d e p e n d e n t e x i s t e n c e a s o t h e r p e o p l e , a n a t t i t u d e t o w a r d s 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 ; a n d 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 c o m b i n e d w i t h a s s o r t o f d e t a c h e d s o l i c i t u d e , a r e s p e c t f o r t h e i r f r e e d o m . H e n r y J a m e s a l s o a s s i g n s c h a r a c t e r a c e n t r a l r o l e i n t h e n o v e l : "What i s . . . a n o v e l t h a t i s n o t o f c h a r a c t e r ? What e l s e do we s e e k i n i t a n d f i n d i n i t ? " 1 9 So d o e s V i r g i n i a W o o l f : I b e l i e v e t h a t a l l n o v e l s . . . d e a l w i t h c h a r a c t e r , a n d t h a t i t i s t o e x p r e s s c h a r a c t e r — n o t t o p r e a c h d o c t r i n e s , s i n g s o n g s , o r c e l e b r a t e t h e g l o r i e s o f t h e B r i t i s h E m p i r e , 1 6 R o l a n d B a r t h e s , S_/Z, t r a n s . R i c h a r d M i l l e r (New Y o r k : H i l l & Wang, 1 9 7 4 ) , p . 1 7 8 . 17 J o h n G a l s w o r t h y , T h e C r e a t i o n o f C h a r a c t e r i n L i t e r a t u r e ( O x f o r d : C l a r e n d o n P r e s s , 1 9 3 1 ) , p p . 2 4 - 5 . 18 J o h n B a y l e y , T h e C h a r a c t e r s o f L o v e ( L o n d o n : C o n s t a b l e a n d Company L t d . , 1 9 6 0 ) , p . 2 9 1 , p p . 7-8. 19 H e n r y J a m e s , "The A r t o f F i c t i o n , " i n S p e c i m e n s o f M o d e r n E n g l i s h  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 (New Y o r k : M a c m i l l a n & C o . , 1 9 0 7 ) , p. 2 4 7 . - 13 -that the form of the novels, so clumsy, verbose, and undramatic, so rich, elastic, and alive, has been evolved. Although Galsworthy, Bayley, James and Woolf undoubtedly differ in their conceptions of what human character is and how i t should be expressed in the novel, they a l l believe that the novel's primary function is to capture i t s essence. That theirs i s a cultural belief motivated and influenced by p o l i t i c a l conventions can be illustrated 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 importance in the novel. In "Against George Lukacs," Bertolt Brecht writes that "the novel certainly does not stand or f a l l by i t s characters, let alone characters of the type that existed in the 19th century." Further, i t is absolutely false, that is to say, i t leads nowhere, i t is not worth the artist'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 final struggle between the bourgeois and the proletarian class, is reduced to a 'plot', setting or background for the creation of great individuals. Individuals should not occupy more space in books, and above a l l not a different kind of space, than in reality. To Brecht, i f a novel is to be r e a l i s t i c i t must portray the individual as a product of his social and economic conditions: In the primeval forest of early capitalism individuals fought against individuals, and against groups of individuals; basically they fought against 'the whole of society^. This was precisely what determined their individuality. 20 Virginia Woolf, "Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown," Collected Essays, Vol. I (London: The Hogarth Press, 1966), p. 324. 21 Bertolt Brecht, "Against George Lukacs," trans. Stuart Hood, in Aesthetics and P o l i t i c s , trans, ed. Ronald Taylor (London: New Left Review Editions, 1977), pp. 77-78. - 1 4 -Taking the idea of individual as "product" of social and economic forces to the extreme, a number of modern theorists have argued for the abolition of character—at 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 individual," and that the twentieth century is essentially different from the nineteenth century which produced the classic novels of character: Our world, today, is 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 is 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 is 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 belief that the individual is 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 belief in "the autonomy of the individual, irrespective of his particular social status or personal 2 3 capacity." The nature of these beliefs is secondary to the fact that they a l l reflect adherence to[religious, philosophical and p o l i t i c a l conventions; they are a l l rooted in opposing conceptions of man as he supposedly exists in reality: they a l l regard character as what Barthes calls the "character-person," though they disagree as to what or who this 22 Alain Robbe-Grillet, For a New Novel, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Grove Press, 1965), p. 29. 2 3Ian Watt, The Rise of the Novel (Middlesex: Penguin, 1957), p. 66. person i s . These ideological differences as to the nature and importance of character often inform the debate over the relative importance of plot and character: "the belief that character exists absolutely and apart from i t s acts turns up when almost anybody asks whether character or plot is more basic in a novel." Walcutt's equation of a character's "acts" or actions with plot suggests that the character/plot debate is a direct corollary of the r e a l i s t i c view of character. Of course, insofar as we are willing to accept the i l l u s i o n that a character is an autonomous person and the plot is an undetermined action, we may admit that "there can be a vast difference in the relative importance of these two elements." A novelist who believes that a person's character is prior to and determinant of his action may be expected to consider character of primary interest, and to create the i l l u s i o n that character determines the action, which in turn illustrates i t . Conversely, a novelist who believes that a person's character is determined by what his circumstances 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 is of l i t t l e or no interest in 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 ideological leanings by restricting this useful term to the bourgeois conception of the individual: "The 'character-person' reigns in the bourgeois novel . . . . what happens illustrates [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 is created see his essay "Narrative Men" in Poetics of Prose, trans. Richard Howard (Ithaca: Cornell U. Press, 1977), pp. 66-79. - 16 -Such illusions, however, often t e l l us more about the writer's beliefs about the world than about literature i t s e l f . We learn something about Henry James, for instance, when he writes that the traditional distinction between the novel of "incident" and the novel of character i s outdated and "answers l i t t l e to any reality"; the terms can, he says, be "transposed at w i l l " : "What is character but the determination of 27 incident? What is incident but the il l u s t r a t i o n of character?" As Todorov has pointed out, had James really believed the terms were interchangeable, he would have written: "What is incident but the 2 8 determination of character?" James is not really addressing the question of the relation of character and plot at a l l ; he i s , however, communicating his liberal belief that "the chief interest of a fi c t i o n a l work lie s in i t s creation of fascinating characters or i t s psychological 29 revelations. Aristotle does not share James' perspective; he stresses instead the primacy of plot, "the arrangement of the incidents." Like that of James, Aristotle's position 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 ethical beliefs; 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: "tragedy is not the imitation of man, per se, but of human action and l i f e and happiness and 3 0 misery." But Aristotle demonstrates considerably more literary insight 27 Henry James, p. 247. 2 8 Todorov, p. 66. 29 0. B. Hardison, Jr., Aristotle's Poetics: A Translation and  Commentary for Students of Literature, trans. Leon Golden (Englewood C l i f f s , N.J.: Prentice Hall, 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 is 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 is 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 if 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 skillful poet like Sophocles may create the illusion, for example, that Oedipus is 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 its motivation or its 31 Abrams, p. 127. - 18 -realization—is 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 it is not. The tragic hero, he writes, is spoudaios—variously translated as noble, good, serious, weighty. The name assigned to this aspect of character, however, is far less important than the idea that i t refers to that aspect which neither precedes, nor proceeds from, but is inherent in, 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: All lifelike 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 3 3 character as a skeleton is to the actor who plays i t . 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 3 20. B. Hardison, pp. 82-85. 3 3Frye, p. 172. - 19 -the i l l u s i o n i t creates. The distinction is firmly grounded in the fact that literary character—whether in the novel or in 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" in 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 identifies as "that fundamental tautology of f i c t i o n which allows us to infer character from action and then to be pleased at 3 5 the way in which action accords with character." This study of character as a type of language in no way ignores the il l u s i o n of the character-person, or denies the pleasure that this i l l u s i o n 3 6 may provide. It does, however, because i t is interested in character as  language, devote less attention to the illusions this language can produce than to the ways in which i t can be made to disappear or to appear depending on an author's intentions and, further, to the ways in which this disappearance and appearance of the language of character can become a thematic concern. Because, in the novel, the language of character most often centers around a proper name to create the il l u s i o n of the 3 1 tBarthes, S/Z, p. 18. 3 5 " r e a l i s t i c view of discourse" is Barthes' term — see S/Z, p. 178; W. J. Harvey, Character and the Novel (London: Chatto & Windus, 1965), p. 205; Culler, p. 143. 3 6 Many Formalist/Structuralist analyses of character have failed 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 in the plot. For brief summaries of the attempts of Propp, Greimas, Todorov and Bremond see Barthes, Image-Music-Text, pp. 104-107; and Culler, Structuralist Poetics, pp. 230-8. For a positively frightening example of the excesses of structural analysis of character, see Fernando Ferrara, "Theory and Model for the Structural Analysis of Fiction," New Literary History, Vol. V, No. 2 (Winter, 1974), pp. 245-68. - 20 -character-person, three i n d i v i d u a l characters have been chosen as the object of t h i s study, remembering always that "the characters are types of discourse and, conversely, the discourse i s a character l i k e the 37 others." They occupy r e l a t i v e l y d i f f e r e n t positions along a gradient that moves from the i n v i s i b i l i t y of the language of character and i t s complementary thematic irrelevance, to the conspicuous appearance of the language of character and i t s resultant thematic importance. Of the three, Moll Flanders comes closest to the autonomous character-person. Through the complicity of Defoe, who meticulously disguises a l l her l i t e r a r i n e s s under the conventions of realism, Moll appears to enjoy a l l the p r i v i l e g e s of a person, from freedom of action to freedom of speech. As a r e s u l t , she hardly appears to be a l i t e r a r y character at a l l . W i l l Ladislaw, who inhabits a very d i f f e r e n t novel, can c l e a r l y be seen to function as a character-agent, an i l l - s t a r r e d romance hero used by E l i o t i n the t e l l i n g of a story that i s hers before i t i s any of the characters'. As the novel progresses, W i l l begins to appear as a l i t e r a r y construct, a " c l u s t e r of signs," determined l a r g e l y by i t s role i n E l i o t ' s i n t e n t i o n a l upsetting of romance convention i n favour of the 3 8 probing realism appropriate to "A Study of P r o v i n c i a l L i f e . " In Leopold Bloom, Joyce reveals the l i n g u i s t i c nature of both the character-person and the character-agent. By showing how Bloom's action i s s i g n i f i c a n t l y determined by Homer's Odysseus, Joyce undercuts the conventions of realism according to which these actions would be explicable i n terms of psychological motivation and p l a u s i b l i t y . He further suspends 3 7 B a r t h e s , S/Z, p. 179. 3 8 E l i o t , Middlemarch, p. 105. - 21' -r e a l i s t i c conventions by removing the narration from the apparent control of a nar r a t o r — a n o t h e r face of the character-person. Thus freed from a human source and a human referent, the language of character becomes the character. When the character-person disappears into the language of the discourse, we see the "character-character," a t a u t o l o g i c a l creature which confronts us with the truth that character i s , a f t e r a l l , language. - 22 -CHAPTER TWO MOLL FLANDERS AS CHARACTER-PERSON Moll Flanders i s a character-person par excellence. In Moll  Flanders, writes Forster, "the character i s everything and can do what i t l i k e s " and the novel's form "proceeds n a t u r a l l y out of her character." 1 The r e a l c r e d i t for Moll's v i t a l i t y , of course, belongs to Defoe who creates the i l l u s i o n of her autonomy or authority by appealing to r e a l i s t i c conventions on the one hand and by simultaneously incorporating and undercutting picaresque conventions on the other. His d i s g u i s i n g of the extent to which Moll i s an a r t f u l l y written arrangement of words p a r t i a l l y determined by l i t e r a r y conventions e f f e c t i v e l y relegates the language of character to the role of an a r t l e s s window which, however subjectively, reveals a supposedly r e a l h i s t o r i c a l personage who i s both the subject and object of t h i s language. Defoe's a r t f u l artlessness obliges readers and c r i t i c s to adopt a r e a l i s t i c view of character and to judge Mo l l , i f at a l l , i n moral or e t h i c a l terms, as i f she were a person. M o l l , however, cannot surrender the autonomy that Defoe has written into her and many attempts to explain her end as revealing accounts of the "Gust and Palate of the Reader" rather than as accounts of Moll as a l i t e r a r y character. The d i f f i c u l t y of explaining Moll i s d i r e c t l y proportional to Defoe's success at creating the E. M. Forster, Aspects of the Novel (Middlesex: Penguin, 1962), pp. 69, 64. 2 D a n i e l Defoe, Moll Flanders (Oxford: OUP, 1981), p. 2. Further references w i l l follow quotations i n the text. - 23 -i l l u s i o n 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 , including any signs of aut 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 necessarily illuminate Moll's agency and therefore reduce her p l a u s i b i l i t y as a character-person. Defoe's a r t i s t i c i n t e n t i o n to make Moll r e a l paradoxically requires that he r e f r a i n from displaying any a r t i s t r y . I r o n i c a l l y , the surest sign of Defoe's a r t i s t i c success resides i n the attacks of c r i t i c s who t r y to j u s t i f y t h e i r own unsuccessful attempts to come to grips with Moll by asserting Defoe's a r t i s t i c f a i l u r e — i f they admit he can be properly considered an a r t i s t at a l l . C r i t i c s generally attempt to account for Moll's personality, as i t unfolds i n her i n t e r a c t i o n with her husbands, her child r e n , her society at large and her conscience, by appealing to three bodies of c u l t u r a l conventions or b e l i e f s . As b e f i t s Moll's authority, these correspond to the categories that she hers e l f i m p l i c i t l y or e x p l i c i t l y appeals to i n tr y i n g (or not trying) to account for h e r s e l f . From Moll's recurring a l l u s i o n to the baneful influence of the d e v i l and from her professed i n t e n t i o n to make her story morally i n s t r u c t i v e come r e l i g i o n s explanations of her behavior. From her b e l i e f that poverty has f a c i l i t a t e d the d e v i l ' s task come accounts of her behavior based on b e l i e f s pertaining to the influence of s o c i a l and economic conditions. And from Moll's i m p l i c a t i o n that both the d e v i l and poverty have affected what she e s s e n t i a l l y i s by nature come explanations a r i s i n g from b e l i e f s and assumptions about human nature, personality and psychology. E. M. Forster's reaction to Moll f a l l s into t h i s l a s t category. Take, for example, his analysis of Moll's much-discussed r e f l e c t i o n upon her theft of a c h i l d ' s gold necklace. The episode occurs two years a f t e r the death of Moll's banker-husband has put an end to her "sober, grave, - 24 -retir'd L i f e " and precipitated a slide into poverty that she has recently attempted to remedy through thievery (MF, p. 193). During this, her second theft, Moll has been tempted to k i l l the child, 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 last Affair l e f t no great Concern upon me, for as I did the poor Child no harm, I only said to my self, I had given the Parents a just Reproof for their Negligence in leaving the poor l i t t l e Lamb to come home by i t self, and i t would teach them to take more Care of i t another time. (MF, p. 194) Forster's interpretation of Moll's reflections is worth noting, both for what i t says and for what i t f a i l s to say: How just are her reflections 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 this! . . . Whatever she does gives us a slight shock—not the j o l t of disillusionment, but the t h r i l l that proceeds from a living being. Forster does not articulate what he thinks Moll expresses or reveals when she ignores her perplexing impulse to k i l l the child and proceeds to argue — i n a laughably inconsistent manner—that, on the one hand, her guilt is attenuated by the poverty which has necessitated her crime, and that, on the other hand, the theft i s really not a crime at a l l , but a good and charitable deed. Nor does he state whether Moll herself perceives the irony inherent in her inconsistency, though he implies that she does . . . and she doesn't. Moll, he writes, i s "neither hypocrite" ("one who affects qualities or virtues he does not have"), "nor fool" ("one deficient in - 25 -judgement or sense" (OED). Forster's silence i s not bereft of eloquence: his subtle appeal to the unwritten text of the natural suggests that he, like Howard L. Koonce, finds Moll's "moral muddle" "thoroughly disarming" because i t reveals a delightfully 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 social and economic conditions. Robert Alter, for example, appeals to the authority of Max Weber and argues that "Capitalist rationalism, as Weber describes i t , i s the characteristic 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 really crimes for her. The only act that she could sense profoundly as criminal would be for her to shirk her duty to accumulate capital. In a slightly 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, "is 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 in Moll  Flanders," ELH, 30, No. 4 (1963), rpt. in Twentieth Century Interpretations  of Moll Flanders, ed. Robert C. E l l i o t (New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1970), p. 50. 5 Robert Alter, "A Bourgeois Picaroon," in Rogue's Progress: Studies  in the Picaresque Novel (1964), rpt. in Twentieth Century Interpretations  of Moll Flanders, p. 75. - 26 -Moll Flanders is our classic revelation of the mercantile mind." To Arnold Kettle, the social and economic conditions of her day also explain why Moll does not enter more ful l y into lasting human relationships: "Moll is forced to be an individualist 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 religion. Watt, for example, quotes Svend Ranulf's Moral Indignation and Middle Class Psychology to the effect that One of the strengths of Puritanism . . . lay in i t s tendency to convert i t s demand for righteousness into a somewhat uncharitable aggressiveness against the sins of others: and this, of course, carried with i t a complementary tendency for the individual to be mercifully blind to his own faults. G. A. Starr also sees Moll's character as essentially Puritan. He attempts to account for her rationalizations by referring to William Perkins, "the 9 Puritan father of English casuistry." Although he attributes to i t a different significance, Robert Alan Donovan recognizes a similar religious influence in Moll's behavior: "Her puritanical 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 is quite superficial." 1 0 6Mark Schorer, "A Study in Defoe: Moral Vision and Structural Form," Thought, XXV (1950), pp. 283-84. 7 Arnold Kettle, "In Defense of Moll Flanders," in Of Books and  Humankind (1964), rpt. in 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," in Defoe and  Casuistry (1971), rpt. in Moll Flanders: An Authoritative Text, p. 424. 1 0Robert Donovan, "The Two Heroines of Moll Flanders," in The  Shaping Vision (1966), rpt. in Moll Flanders: An Authoritative Text, p. 404. - 27 -The common feature of a l l these c r i t i c a l explanations of Moll is that they are moral or ethical judgements of her character rather than evaluations of her as a character. They a l l accept implictly or exp l i c i t l y that accounting for Moll entails an attempt to "distinguish between . . . what Moll does and what she essentially i s . " 1 1 A l l treat Moll as i f she were a real person living under the real influence of social, economic and religious conditions. Collectively, they support Boardman's assertion that One's judgement of Moll . . . depends on no strong textual dictates, but on one's own differing naturalistic expectations about real people in the real world. One turns inward, i f one questions Moll at a l l , for plausible explanations of he^ r conflicting blindness and insight, since Defoe is silent. Starr says much the same thing: One's opinion as to which . . . aspect of Moll Flanders is 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 relative weight of psychological, economic, social, and religious 'explanations' of human behaviour. The insights of Starr and Boardman provide a context for James Joyce's comment that Moll Flanders is one of a trio of Defoe's female characters which "reduces contemporary criticism to a stupefied 1 k impotence.' Moll accomplishes this feat by effectively reversing the traditional roles of character and c r i t i c . Traditionally, 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," in "Daniel Defoe," (1912) rpt. iri Moll Flanders: An authoritative Text, p.346. - 28 -the one who explains or elucidates the literary character. But, as the above examples i l l u s t r a t e , explanations or accounts of Moll often disclose more about the ethical beliefs or ideological positions of the c r i t i c s than about Moll as a literary character. The impotence that Moll's autonomy as a character-person imposes on c r i t i c s has provoked more than one to question her success as a literary creation and Defoe's talent as an a r t i s t . Discussing Moll's reflections on her theft of the necklace, for example, Watt expresses some reservation: There i s , however, some doubt about Defoe's intention: is i t meant to be an ironical touch about his heroine's moral duplicities, her tendency to be blind to the beam in her own eye? Or did Defoe forget Moll as he raged inwardly at the thought of how careless parents are, and how richly 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 in the novel, and opens up the possibility that not only Moll, but also Defoe himself may be unaware of the irony inherent in the heroine's reflections: there was no way in which Defoe could make good his didactic professions except by making Moll double as chorus for his own honest beliefs; and there is therefore good reason to believe that the moral imperceptiveness which is so laughably clear to us i s in fact a reflection of one of the psychological characteristics of Puritanism which Defoe shared with his heroine. Taken to i t s logical extreme, Watt's view would destroy Moll as a literary character and Defoe as an artist by reducing her to a simple, unartistic reflection of his mind, i t s e l f undoubtedly influenced by the 1 5Watt, pp. 128, 139, 140. - 29 -social, economic and religious conditions of eighteenth-century England. Mark Schorer expresses exactly this position when he argues that Moll Flanders is a psychological projection of Defoe: The Puritan and the journalist together, the f i r s t out of genuine suspicions of the idle and the second out of his conviction that nothing i s more persuasive than fact, lead Defoe to deny that he is writing fiction at a l l . On the contrary, he t e l l s us, he is 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 role. He i s not telling us about Moll Flanders, he is Moll Flanders. 1 6 The same apparent lack of artistry that creates the d i f f i c u l t y in accounting for Moll and leads to doubts about Defoe's artistry in general, also leads to reservations about his right to the t i t l e of the founder of the novel as a literary form. Watt, for one, is unwilling to grant Defoe this position: the novel could be considered established only when re a l i s t i c narrative was organized into a plot which, while retaining Defoe's lifelikeness, also had an intrinsic coherence; when the novelist's eye was focused on character and personal relationships as essential elements in the total structure, and not merely as subordinate instruments for furthering the verisimilitude of the actions described; and whe,n a l l these were related to a controlling moral intention. Though he seems to locate the origin 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 traditional 1 6Schorer, pp. 281-2. 1 7Watt, p. 147. - 30 -novel." Besides revealing something of the way in which literary conventions of form are partially determined by cultural values and beliefs, the opinions of Watt and Boardman acknowledge Defoe's success in realizing 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 artistry, as well the spirited defences of his a r t i s t i c control they inspire, ironically constitute the greatest imaginable tribute to his artistry. Defoe's salient talent as an ar t i s t , as even his detractors admit, is his ab i l i t y to create the i l l u s i o n of unaltered reality. Even Watt says that "Defoe's talent . . . is the supreme one in the novel: Defoe is the master i l l u s i o n i s t . " 1 9 On this point, Watt joins illustrious company. 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 fictions have the air of true 2 0 stories.' And De Quincey observes that "Defoe is the only author known who has so plausibly circumstantiated his false historical records as to make them pass for genuine, even with literary 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 reality his works provide, yet c r i t i c i z e them for not manifesting the reassuringly Boardman, p. 131. 1 9Watt, p. 147. 20 Charles Lamb, "Estimate of Defoe's Secondary Novels," in Memoirs  of the Li f e and Times of Daniel Defoe (1830) rpt. in Moll Flanders: An  Authoritative Text, p. 326. 21 Thomas De Quincey, ' De Quincey on Verisimilitude," in 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 literary creations, would have their cake and eat i t too. The i l l u s i o n that Moll is an autonomous person who uses language as a transparent medium to describe herself, however, precludes the appearance of any signs of controlled artistry which would reveal her as a literary creation partially determined by literary conventions. Defoe succeeds in effacing the contrived air of artistry by removing himself as "an internal, purposeful presence" in 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 pay—is the artist'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 artist or as a novelist, the techniques he uses to create the il l u s i o n of Moll as a character-person affirm his right to be esteemed as both an artist and a novelist whose works are central to the novel as a literary form. Defoe creates Moll as a v i t a l , autonomous character-person in two main ways. F i r s t , he appeals to and incorporates the natural and cultural conventions of his day, including beliefs pertaining to religion, psychology, and social and economic conditions, by imitating the discursive, referential conventions of autobiography, criminal biography, religious tracts and journalistic reporting, a l l of which place language in the service of reality and truth. Second, he strengthens the i l l u s i o n of reality thus created by incorporating visibly fictional elements of picaresque narrative, or the related semi-fictional rogue biography, and submitting these (and the charmed existence they would normally guarantee the heroine) to r e a l - l i f e 22 Boardman, pp. 112, 119. - 32 -s o c i a l , economic, psychological and moral laws. In t h i s way, Defoe strengthens the i l l u s i o n of Moll's warm-blooded spontaneity r e l a t i v e to both r e a l i t y and the l i t e r a r y realm. The Preface of Moll Flanders provides a paradigm of Defoe's technique as master i l l u s i o n i s t ; i t does not, as Watt and Schorer have argued, reveal Defoe's genuine d i d a c t i c (and therefore u n a r t i s t i c ) i n t e n t i o n s . Any naive attempt to reduce the narrator of the Preface to an expression of Defoe's sincere moral intention i s (or should be) thwarted by the f i r s t sentence, i n which the narrator demonstrates his 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 of the novel and the romance, and the hi s t o r y , a true or genuine account of r e a l persons and events. He l a t e r confirms his l i t e r a r y acumen by touching on the profoundly l i t e r a r y problem of rendering goodness as i n t e r e s t i n g as e v i l : It i s suggested there cannot be the same L i f e , the same Brightness and Beauty, i n r e l a t i n g the penitent Part, as i s in the criminal Part: I f there i s any Truth i n that Suggestion, I must be allow'd to say, ' t i s because there i s not the same taste and r e l i s h i n the Reading, and indeed i t i s too true that the difference lyes not i n the r e a l worth of the Subject so much as i n the Gust and Palate of the Reader. (MF, p. 2) Like Defoe, the narrator i s p e r f e c t l y f a m i l i a r with the differ e n c e between fa c t and f i c t i o n and, on Defoe's behalf, he proceeds to use his knowledge to create the i l l u s i o n that Moll i s a r e a l person. The narrator's presentation of Moll's story as a "private History" gains i n c r e d i b i l i t y when he says that he himself possesses her memorandums (MF, p. 1). He increases the p l a u s i b i l i t y of Moll's existence further by acknowledging that, l i k e other persons, Moll i s at le a s t p a r t i a l l y the product of her environment. Moll's o r i g i n a l story, he says, was "written - 33 -i n Language, more l i k e one s t i l l i n Newgate, than one grown Penitent and Humble" (MF, p. 1 ) . He l a t e r elaborates on t h i s appeal to natural convention, using i t to explain why Moll's story remains unfinished: "no Body can write t h e i r own L i f e to the f u l l End of i t , unless they can write i t a f t e r they are dead" (MF, p. 5). He stresses the importance of Moll as a l i v i n g presence beyond the words of her story by asking readers to pay more attention to what Moll becomes than to what she has been: " i t i s to be hop'd that . . . Readers w i l l be much more pleas'd with . . . the End of the Writer, than with the L i f e of the Person written of" (MF, p. 2). Having established the p l a u s i b i l i t y of Moll's existence by appealing to worldly natural and c u l t u r a l conventions, the narrator strengthens t h i s i l l u s i o n r e l a t i v e to the l i t e r a r y realm by r a i s i n g and then d i s p e l l i n g the p o s s i b i l i t y that Moll i s a f i c t i o n written by an author, namely himself. He e x p l i c i t l y refers to himself at one point as "an Author [who] must be hard put to wrap [Moll's story] up so clean, as not to give room, e s p e c i a l l y for v i t i o u s Readers to turn i t to his Disadvantage" (MF, p. 1). The narrator's " s l i p " raises the p o s s i b i l i t y that his "emendations" to Moll's memorandums, along with his other appeals to natural and c u l t u r a l convention, are only ploys to strengthen the p l a u s i b i l i t y of the i l l u s i o n he has created. This p o s s i b i l i t y i s a l l the more credible i n l i g h t of his obvious awareness of l i t e r a r y matters. The question then a r i s e s as to where, i f anywhere, the signs of his alleged authority can be located i n Moll's story. Like Defoe, on whose behalf he i s acting, the narrator never reveals his presence i n Moll's story. He admits to having bowdlerized to some extent Moll's language: - 34 -The Pen employ'd i n f i n i s h i n g her Story, 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 into 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 part of her L i f e , which cou'd not be modestly t o l d , i s quite l e f t out" (MF, p. 2). But he i s f a r more re t i c e n t on the question of what he has added to Moll's story. His s e l f - e f f a c i n g , passive voice always allows for the p o s s i b i l i t y that he has no r e a l claims to authorship at a l l , that Moll i s the r e a l author: There Is i n this Story abundance of d e l i g h t f u l Incidents, and a l l of them u s e f u l l y apply'd. There i s an agreeable turn A r t f u l l y given them i n the r e l a t i n g , that n a t u r a l l y Instructs the Reader, either one way, or other. (MF, p. 2) His claims are weakened even further, and Moll's are proportionately strengthened, at the c l o s i n g of the Preface when he declines to include an account of the end of her l i f e — i n spite of the fact that i t allegedly provides another point of view by which the veracity of Moll's story could conceivably be judged—by v i r t u e of i t s s t y l i s t i c i n f e r i o r i t y : In her l a s t Scene at Maryland, and V i r g i n i a , many pleasant things happen'd, which makes that part of her L i f e very agreeable, but they are not told with the same Elegancy as those accounted for 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 off here. (MF, p. 5) Having paid Moll the compliment of esteeming her s t y l e more than objective t r u t h , the narrator walks q u i e t l y from the narrative stage. And once he has disclaimed his own authority, to the advantage of Moll's, he r e f r a i n s from i n t e r f e r i n g i n her t e l l i n g of her story. Through the narrator, Defoe thus grants to Moll 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 expression. The i l l u s i o n of Moll as an a u t h o r i t a t i v e , autonomous character-person owes more to the way i n which she seems to use words to t e l l her story than to any amount of r e a l i s t i c d e t a i l depicting her person, her emotions or her psychology, which perhaps explains why Defoe thought i t unnecessary to have Moll provide her readers with her height or the colour of her eyes and h a i r . According to a r e a l i s t i c view of character, Moll's a b i l i t y to t e l l s t o r i e s , to create or "mint" the name "Moll Flanders" (among others), allows her to survive 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 l e a d — a s 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 l i f e ' s story a t t e s t s to the truth that a good story, a p l a u s i b l e story, i s more advantageous than the truth: It was at Colchester i n Essex, that those People l e f t me; and I have a Notion i n my Head, that I l e f t them there, (that i s , that I hid myself and wou'd not go any farther with them) but I am not able to be p a r t i c u l a r i n that Account; only t h i s I remember, that being taken up by some of the Parish O f f i c e r s of Colchester, I gave an Account, that I came into the Town with the Gypsies, but that I would not go any farther with them, and that so they had l e f t me. (MF, p. 9) According to a r e a l i s t i c view of discourse, Moll's a b i l i t y to account for h e r s e l f through naming allows her not only to survive but to thri v e and prosper as a plausible character-person. Because the language that i s Moll appears to originate i n a human source and to describe a human referent i t remains inconspicious as language and Moll does not appear to be the arrangement of words that she a c t u a l l y i s . The c r e d i t for Moll's v i t a l i t y , of course, belongs to Defoe whose appeal to both c u l t u r a l and l i t e r a r y conventions makes Moll dually r e a l and allows her to appear as i f she were not written at a l l . - 36 -Many details of Moll's story strengthen the plausibility of her personhood in relation to natural and cultural conventions. In addition to her inconsistencies in thought, feeling, speech and action mentioned at the beginning of the chapter, as well as the naturalistic details highlighted by the narrator, Defoe supplies a number of other l i f e l i k e details. Moll's artless, 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 is not, after a l l , a consummate a r t i s t . Speaking of the elder Colchester brother, she says: "He spoke this in so much more moving Terms than i t is possible for me to Express, and with so much greater force of Argument than I can repeat." (MF, p. 55). Moll's lack of words is appropriate to her lack of education. Near the end of her story, she says: " t i l l I wrote this, [I] did not know what the word Geographical signify'd" (MF, p. 327). Defoe also ensures that, like any other person, Moll is capable of forgetting certain details of earlier incidents in 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 in London" must have come from somewhere else: in her original account of that incident she says her attempt to steal i t was unsuccessful (MF, p. 338). Far from revealing flaws in Defoe's artistry as Watt has argued, Moll's slip strengthens the uncontrived air of her story. Indeed, the loose chronological structure of Moll's narrative, many of whose episodes could conceivably be re-arranged without disturbing the overall effect, appears more influenced by the vicissitudes of her l i f e than by any v i s i b l y literary or a r t i s t i c principles or aims. It is to increase the plausibility of this i l l u s i o n that Defoe incorporates elements of picaresque fiction into Moll's story and then, by upsetting them, pretends even more convincingly that Moll is not written at a l l . - 37 -Many c r i t i c s have detected the influence of picaresque f i c t i o n i n M o l l Flanders, "picaresque" being "the autobiography of a picaro [or p i c a r a , as the case may be], a rogue, and i n that form a s a t i r e upon the conditions of the time that gives i t b i r t h " (OED). The most important aspect of the picaresque i n Moll Flanders, one which transcends the debate as to whether "picaresque" i s an h i s t o r i c a l or formal term, i s i t s obvious l i t e r a r i n e s s . Before a l l e l s e , writes Seiber, the picaresque 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 with the habits 23 and l i v e s of rogues." The picaro, therefore, i s "a l i t e r a r y convention for the presentation of a v a r i e t y of s a t i r i c observations and comic episodes (emphasis mine). E s t a b l i s h i n g Moll Flanders as a picaresque narrative would f a c i l i t a t e the judging of Moll as a l i t e r a r y character by revealing her agency i n r e l a t i o n to the conventional demands of the picaresque. Showing that Moll's heart i s e s s e n t i a l l y that of the picaresque heroine might explain why she " i n some degree escapes the bounds of everyday moral, 25 s o c i a l , and psychological laws." It might explain the "freedom from the probable psychological and s o c i a l consequences of everything she does" that Watt considers "the central i m p l a u s i b i l i t y of Moll's character as Defoe has drawn i t " ; Watt himself admits that "the picaro enjoys that charmed immunity from the deeper stings of pain and death which i s accorded to a l l those fortunate enough to inhabit the world of comedy." Further, the 23 Harry Sieber, The Picaresque, The C r i t i c a l Idiom, No. 33, Ed. John D. Jump (London: Methuen, 1977), p. 1. 2 1 tWatt, p. 105. 25 Starr, "Introduction," p. v i i i . Watt, p. 106. - 38 -picaresque interpretation of Moll Flanders would allow the comic ending of the heroine's quest for security to stand as a satire of the hypocritical moral values of her society. Defoe, however, has no intention of using picaresque conventions to create such thematic cl a r i t y . Nor does he intend to make Moll more manageable as a literary character. Moll Flanders does, of course, bear an apparent relation to picaresque narrative. Moll's story i s episodic in structure, autobiographical in narrative point-of-view, and revelatory of a rogue Who was born in NEWGATE, and during a Life of continu'd Variety for Threescore Years, besides her Childhood, was Twelve Year a Whore, five times a Wife (whereof once to her own Brother) Twelve Year a Thief, Eight Year a Transported Felon in Virginia, at last grew Rich, liv'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 air of either ?7 picaresque fi c t i o n or the related semi-fictional rogue biography. Those episodes that do seem to owe something to picaresque fi c t i o n provide a fleeting glimpse of the charmed existence of the picara, but the rapidity with which these light moments are ironically adapted to the hard facts of Defoe's realism suggests that Moll is no picaresque heroine. In her rhyming courtship with her brother, for example, Moll escapes for a moment the harsh reality of the world she inhabits, a world in which her body becomes a piece of merchandise. In this episode, Moll seems to delight in fine picaresque fashion in her deceiving roguery. She has her man on the hook and she plays him through the unworldly medium of poetry. See Watt, p. 119 for a discussion of the relation between these two genres. - 39 -The success of her comic ruse ironically leads to her despair when she discovers that the man she has caught and by whom she has had three children is really her brother. Moll's picaresque trick has led her to violate her own best advice and to make her own marriage, "like Death, be a_ Leap in the Dark" (MF, p. 75). If this episode reveals anything about Moll i t is that she is not a picaresque heroine inhabiting a picaresque romance world. Another episode which appears to owe something to the picaresque occurs when Moll is 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 thief, Moll, with the help of her governess, proceeds to stage a play in which she assumes the role of a gentlewoman whose pride and dignity have been wounded by the mercer's insulting behavior. So successful is Moll's acting that she fi 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 is 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 calls herself "Mary Flanders." According to the conventions of realism, Moll's use of this name is 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 profit by i t . Once again, however, this charmed existence is short-lived: the next time she appears before the law she w i l l be sent directly to the hall Newgate, a real place of real suffering. The episode which perhaps best reveals the way the picaresque functions in Moll Flanders is the mutual deception of Moll and her Lancashire husband, Jemmy. Even Alter, who tends to stress the seriousness - 40 -of the novel, regards the "mutual reve l a t i o n of the two would-be deceivers" 2 8 as "a moment of r e a l picaresque camaraderie." Both Moll and Jemmy have designs to marry the fortune that each pretends to have. Upon discovering that they have both been misled by a go-between, they turn t h e i r f a i l u r e i n t o a comedy by pooling what l i t t l e money they do have (though Moll does r e t a i n a 30 1. note . . . as well as her true name) and promptly f a l l i n g i n love. After Jemmy has l e f t her for the f i r s t t i m e — t o return l a t e r a f t e r miraculously hearing Moll c a l l i n g him from a distance of twelve m i l e s — M o l l exclaims that t h i s implausible, u n r e a l i s t i c incident has affected her deeply: Nothing that ever b e f e l me i n my L i f e , sunk so deep into my Heart as t h i s Farewel: I reproach'd him a Thousand times i n my Thoughts for leaving me, for I would have gone with him thro' the World, i f I had beg'd my Bread. (MF, p. 153). But, no sooner has she uttered these words than she returns to her mundane, unromantic preoccupation with money: I f e l t i n my Pocket, and there I found ten Guineas, h i s Gold Watch, and two l i t t l e Rings, one a small Diamond Ring, worth only about s i x Pound, and the other a p l a i n Gold Ring. (MF, p. 153). Paradoxically, the appearance and immediate undermining of picaresque a r t i f i c e heightens the i l l u s i o n of Moll as a r e a l person inh a b i t i n g a r e a l world. The i r o n i c j u x t a p o s i t i o n of picaresque and r e a l i s t i c conventions i n the above passages make Moll more r e a l by suggesting that she i s not a f i c t i o n a l picaresque heroine and by simultaneously r a i s i n g problematic questions about her apparent l e v e l of A l t e r , p. 72. - 41 -self-consciousness or self-awareness. This interpretation seems to be ju 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 is not determined by them. Watt, for example, argues that Moll is not a picara because "the essence of Defoe's fictional world [is] that i t s pains, like i t s pleasures, are as 2 9 solid as those of the real world." According to Alter, i t is more "misleading than instructive to c a l l Moll Flanders a picaresque novel" because the "relaxation of existential 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 discipline." In a slightly different vein, Chandler argues that Defoe moves away from the picaresque narrative through his partial subordination of incidents to character, i t s e l f the result of his "predilection for ethical studies 3 1 [which] had made his thought pivot upon the moral quality of every act." As Chandler's comment illus t r a t e s , Defoe's use of picaresque conventions in Moll Flanders shifts the reader's attention from the way In which the novel's realism is partially created through the upsetting or transformation of traditional literary conventions, to the way in which the language of the text accurately reflects or describes reality. The i l l u s i o n of Moll as a character-person depends precisely on such a shift, one that is not, incidentally, contradicted by arguing that the form of Defoe's f i c t i o n is partially determined by other referential, descriptive 2 9Watt, p. 106. 3 0 A l t e r , p. 77. 31 F. W. Chandler, The Literature of Roguery, 2 vols. (New York: Houghton M i f f l i n , 1907) p. 299. - 42 -forms of discourse. Such arguments are quite common. Sieber, f o r instance, argues that Defoe's so-called picaresque f i c t i o n derives from another t r a d i t i o n as John R i c h e t t i and others have demonstrated. The f i r s t - p e r s o n narrative viewpoint, the concentrated i n t e r e s t on crime, crime reporting and courts of law are a l l part of the conventional elements of criminal biographies of the period. And Watt asserts that: "Defoe's plot i n Moll Flanders i s closer to 3 3 authentic biography . . . than to the s e m i - f i c t i o n a l rogue biography." The biography, l i k e the autobiography and j o u r n a l i s t i c reporting, r e l i e s on the d e s c r i p t i v e rather than the creative power of language for i t s e f f e c t . Like a l l the conventions of realism used by Defoe, the biography places language In the humble, inconspicuous service of r e a l i t y and thus serves to make Moll more re a l as a person and less manageable as a l i t e r a r y character. By appealing to r e a l i s t i c conventions, Defoe e f f e c t i v e l y makes the language of character that i s Moll disappear i n order to create the i l l u s i o n that she i s a r e a l person who i s at once the subject and the object of t h i s language. He cements t h i s i l l u s i o n r e l a t i v e to the l i t e r a r y realm by incorporating and then undermining the v i s i b l y l i t e r a r y a r t i f i c e of picaresque f i c t i o n , thus suggesting that Moll i s not a conventional l i t e r a r y character, not a written arrangment of words functioning as i t s author's agent. To the end of her n a r r a t i v e , Moll's greatest secret i s that she i s a character at a l l . Defoe's complicity i n t h i s secret guarantees Moll's notoriety as a character-person whose autonomy permits 32 Sieber, p. 55. 3 3Watt, p. 120. 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 is 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 artistic intentions. She visibly uses Will Ladislaw to tell her story and, in doing so, reveals him as a character-agent whose function is 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 is 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 Will Ladislaw does not enjoy the same "authority of existence" as the autonomous character-person, Moll Flanders. 1 Far from allowing Will to t e l l his own story, Eliot uses Ladislaw as an agent who plays the role of romance hero, a role visibly determined by the very romance conventions she upsets and parodies in Middlemarch. The appearance of the character-agent, whose role is determined by the words of literature 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 shift in 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 Will loses a measure of i t s transparency and begins to appear as a "cluster of signs"—both poetic and prosaic—created through an elaborate a r t i f i c e of naming orchestrated by Eliot through the mediums of her 2 characters. Will's function as a character-agent precludes the possibility of reading him solely as a character-person. Critics who forget that he is a verbal construct which conforms to a combination of literary and cultural conventions are apt to regard Will Ladislaw as a "failure." At their most naive, the objections to Will Ladislaw take the form of a moral disapproval of his character in relation to that of the heroine, ^uentin Anderson, "George Eliot in Middlemarch," Middlemarch: A  Selection of C r i t i c a l Essays, ed. Patrick Swinden (London: Macmillan Press, 1972), p. 184. 2 George E l i o t , Middlemarch (Boston: Houghton M i f f l i n Co., 1956), p. 105. Further references w i l l follow quotations in the text. Dorothea. Like Sir 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 is not easy to like young Ladislaw; one is tempted to think that, in marrying him, Dorothea makes nearly as great a blunder as she did in 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 justification for their views in Will's dilettantish behavior, his petulant rebelliousness, his lack of discipline and strength. Dorothea, so the argument runs, i s a remarkable woman with high ideals and a generous nature; she deserves better than Will, whose character, according to Henry James, i s "insubstantial." Slightly more sophisticated criticisms 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] picture." 5 Using the same metaphor, Henry James pronounces the insubstantial character of the hero a failure: " i t lacks sharpness of outline and depth of colour; we have not found ourselves believing in Ladislaw as we believe in Dorothea. . . . He remains vague and impalpable to the end." James's use of metaphor is revealing: novelistic 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), rpt. in George Elio 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 details" and praises i t s "solidity of specification." 6 According to James, the language of character must give us a clear picture of the human personality. James does not say, in literary terms, exactly why Ladislaw's portrait lacks presence. Gordon Haight rightly 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 is far more detailed and specific than that of Moll Flanders, whose eyes, nose, hair and skin are never described at a l l — a fact which has done l i t t l e to dissuade c r i t i c s of her reality. The reason James provides no literary explanation for Will's "failure" is that none exists unless we accept a r e a l i s t i c , "palpable" portrait of a masculine fellow as the sole standard by which Will can be judged as a literary character. Such confusion of literary and cultural conventions typifies explanations of Will's failure. Arnold Kettle, for example, argues that Will is an a r t i s t i c failure because of George Eliot's failure to understand and convey, in 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 failure of George Eliot with Ladislaw, her failure to make him a figure realised on the a r t i s t i c level of the other characters of the novel, i s inseparable from the social unrealism in his conception. A r t i s t i c a l l y he is not 'there 1, not concrete, because socially he is not concrete, but idealised. Henry James, rev. of Middlemarch by George E l i o t , The Galaxy, March 1873; rpt. in George E l i o t : The C r i t i c a l Heritage, ed. David Caroll (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1971), pp. 356, 353. 7 Gordon S. Haight, "George Eliot's 'Emminent Failure,' Will Ladislaw," This Particular 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 Victorian society: Middlemarch is a wonderfully rich and intelligent book and it s richness lies in a consideration of individual characters firmly placed in an actual social situation (it is because Ladislaw is never thus placed but remains a romantic dream-figure that he is a failure). Like James and Kettle, F. R. Leavis believes that the task of the novelist is to be r e a l i s t i c in her character-portrayal, and that Will Ladislaw is a failed creation. Leavis, however, does not attribute the failure to the unreality of his social position; rather, he views Will, like Dorothea, as "a product of Eliot's own soul-hunger—another day-dream ideal self." According to Leavis, Will does not "exist" because he is a projection of the author's desire and is therefore indistinguishable from her own personality: In fact, [Will] has no independent status of his own—he can't be said to exist; he merely represents, not a dramatically real point of view, but certain of George Eliot's intentions—intentions she has failed to realize creatively. The most important of these is to impose on the reader her own vision and valuation of Dorothea. Will, of course, is also intended—it is not really a separate matter—to be, in contrast to Casaubon, a f i t t i n g soul-mate for Dorothea. He is not substantially (everyone agrees) 'there', but we can see well enough what kind of qualities and attractions are intended. . . . George Eliot's valuation of Will Ladislaw, in gshort, is Dorothea's, just as Will's of Dorothea is George Eliot's. Arnold Kettle, An Introduction to the English Novel, 2 vols. (London, 1951; rpt. New York: Harper & Row, 1968), pp. 176, 168. F. R. Leavis, The Great Tradition (New York: NYU Press, 1960), p. 75. - 48 -Both Leavis and K e t t l e attempt to explain the f a i l u r e of Ladislaw's character, or his f a i l u r e as a character, by reaching beyond the bounds of 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 psychology: Kettle presumes that E l i o t should be a s o c i a l s c i e n t i s t and c r i t i c i z e s her lack of rigour; Leavis complains that she has f a i l e d to detach herself s u f f i c i e n t l y from her creation. Both prefer to c a l l into question the a r t i s t r y of a n o v e l i s t and a novel they greatly admire rather than abandon t h e i r narrow conviction that realism i s the only convention against which W i l l can be judged. Their r e a l i s t i c view f a i l s to account for e i t h e r Ladislaw as a l i t e r a r y character or Middlemarch as a l i t e r a r y work. The error of Leavis and K e t t l e i n judging Ladislaw s o l e l y on the basis of r e a l i s t i c convention i s s i m i l a r to—though less j u s t i f i e d t h a n — the error of Schorer and Watt, who question Defoe's a r t i s t r y because they cannot account for Moll Flanders on a s i m i l a r basis. Of course, l i k e Moll  Flanders, 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 encourages t h e i r r e a l i s t i c reading from the s t a r t , by appearing to r e f e r to and to describe a physical and h i s t o r i c a l r e a l i t y beyond the text: a p r o v i n c i a l town i n the England of the F i r s t Reform B i l l . But, unlike M o l l 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 secret, Middlemarch abounds with signs that advertise the novel's l i t e r a r y nature. These signs include the d i v i s i o n of the novel into eight books, whose t i t l e s — " O l d and Young," "Sunset and S u n r i s e " — o f t e n suggest intended l i t e r a r y j u x t a p o s i t i o n and a r t i c u l a t e c e n t r a l thematic dichotomies. In addition, the Prelude and the Finale frame eighty-six chapters, each beginning with an epigraph a l l u d i n g to an implied or a s p e c i f i c work of l i t e r a t u r e . A l l of these signs, not to mention the countless a l l u s i o n s i n the text to the works of Shakespeare, - 49 -Goethe, and Scott among many others, pull the reader's attention from the reality of nineteenth century-England to the literary realm in which Ladislaw is a character-agent with a specific role to play. Eliot 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 reality of industrial England, in the "pinched narrowness of provincial l i f e . " In order to realize her intention, she makes Will 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. 1 0 The above excerpts from the criticism 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 surprisingly, Leavis and Kettle also f a i l to perceive the way in which the appearance of the character-agent encourages a shift in 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, Will is a person whose romantic (and therefore unrealistic) inclinations force him to struggle against the common pettiness of the "prosaic neighborhood of Middlemarch." According to the latter, a view Eliot appears to authorize through her literary metaphor, Will is 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 in the figure of the romance 1 0Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism (Princeton: PUP, 1957), p. 35. Further references w i l l follow quotations in the text. - 50 -hero. As Eliot moves this hero through a series of parodic quest cycles and explicitly 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, Will begins to emerge as a literary construct, a cluster of signs determined and informed by the literary realm of which the language of character i s a part. Northrop Frye identifies 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 conflict; the stage of the crucial 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 conflict, the anagnorisis or recognition. In this conflict, 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). Eliot's description of Ladislaw as a young man whose "bushy light-brown curls, as well as his youthfulness, identified 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 identifies the dusty pedant, for his part, as the enemy: Mrs. Cadwallader calls him "'a death's head skinned over'"; Sir James says he has "'one foot in the grave'" (M, p. 67). As the conventional enemy of the hero, Casaubon is identified 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 explicit at the time of Dorothea's v i s i t to her future home: - 51 -In this latter end of autumn, with a sparse remnant of yellow leaves f a l l i n g slowly athwart the dark evergreens in a stillness without sunshine, the house too had an air of autumnal decline, and Mr. Casaubon, when he presented himself, had no bloom that could be thrown into relief by that background. (M, p. 54) The reference to Will's "light-brown" hair is the f i r s t of many examples of light imagery indicating that the hero embodies a displaced sun-god myth typical of the hero of romance. According to Brooke (who is wrong about so many things, but positively oracular when i t comes to W i l l ) , Ladislaw is "'trying his wings,'" he is "'just the sort of young fellow to rise'" (M, p. 241). In the words of another Middlemarcher, few of whom are noted for their high opinions of others, Will is a " b r i l l i a n t young fellow" (M, p. 262). Once again, the narrator makes this analogy explicit: Will Ladislaw's smile was delightful, unless you were angry with him beforehand: i t was a gush of inward light illuminating the transparent skin as well as the eyes, and playing about every curve and line as i f some Ariel were touching them with a new charm. (M, p. 152) The ethereal, unworldly quality associated with the light imagery through the allusion to Shakespeare's sprite in the above passage accords nicely with the description of Will 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 origins, another convention of romance comedy: The anagnorisis in [romance] comedy, in which the characters find out who their relatives are, and who is lef t of the opposite sex not a relative, and hence available for marriage, is one of the features of comedy that have never changed much. (Anat., p. 170) - 52 -Generally (as in 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, is related to the question of who he is on the level of personality or character, which explains why, in romance, the character of the successful hero i s so often le f t undeveloped: his real l i f e begins at the end of the [novel], and we have to believe him to be potentially a more Interesting character than he appears to be. (Anat., p. 169) Romance, according to Frye, "is nearest of a l l literary forms to the wish-fulfilment dream" according to which "the quest-romance is the search of the libido or desiring self for a fulfilment that w i l l deliver i t from the anxieties of reality but w i l l s t i l l contain that reality" (Anat., pp. 186, 193). Thus, the hero's character i s left undeveloped so as to possess "the neutrality that enables him to represent a wish-fulfilment." This convention appears in 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 dullish pair of technical leads," to Tom Jones, whose very name suggests "the conventional and typical" (Anat., p. 167). Both Leavis and Kettle mention specifically that Will 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 in 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 is not quite "there" because he Is, at least in part, a romance hero; Lydgate actually likens Will to a character "dropped out of a romantic comedy" (M, p. 364). Although the signs of his mysterious origins, of his relatively undeveloped character, of his youth and ethereal lightness, identify him as a romantic hero, Will's position In the innocent world of romance is 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 is occupied by the Romantic hero, a recognizably literary type whose desiring self inhabits the wildest reaches of the imagination, and holds the real world in contempt. Will's rebellious retreat from reality is mentioned by Casaubon, who says that the youngster calls 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, Will is 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 Nile, and that there should be some unknown regions preserved as hunting-grounds for the poetic imagination." (M, p. 60) The hero's rejection of reality in favour of the worlds of the imagination, his pouting and petulant manner, his dilettantish and hedonistic attitude toward l i f e , his experimentation with opium, alcohol, and sumptuous food, his work as an ar t i s t , a l l label Will as a Romantic hero. 1 haight, p. 38. - 54 -When Ladislaw is away in Europe, the narrator explicitly refers to the Romantic movement beginning to make i t s e l f f e l t around 1831, stating that Will frequents the long-haired artists who belong to i t . She thus confirms Brooke's earlier remark that Will may turn out "'a Byron, a Chatterton, a Churchill,'" and his later comparison of the young man to "Shelley" (M, pp. 60, 263). Brooke's infelicitous e r r o r — a t twenty-one, Will 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 historical 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 in one of Browning's poems as "sun-treader," embodied the intensity of a Promethean figure. According to Frye, in the period of Romanticism, the poet becomes what the fictional hero was In the age of romance, an extraordinary person who lives in a higher and more imaginative experience than that of nature. He creates his own world, a world which reproduces many of the characteristics of fictional romance. (Anat., p. 59) By the time Will departs from Middlemarch, the weight of the reality 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 in 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 Eliot chooses to make his environment real, and the dreary November days chi l l i n g l y cold, then the romance hero is in trouble. - 55 -E l i o t hints as much when she ironically foreshadows the young hero's fate at 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 . — F u l l e r (M, p. 61) The narrator's remark that Will's experiments with opium and alcohol had resulted in "nothing original" strengthens the author's suggestion that Will may not live up to his role of romantic hero, but she s t i l l allows for the possibility that Will may rise 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 possibilities exist only in the hopeful realm of "grand presentiment," she refrains from over-indulging in speculation, in attempts to name or to know Will's actual potential. She frees the hero from further scrutiny by summarily 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 is the most gratuitous. (M, p. 62) In this way, the narrator signifies her awareness that further speculation on Will's future would be a narrative mistake, since the hero can thrive only i f his future i s le f t as f u l l of promise, as mysteriously vague, as his past. Only with the beginning and end of his l i f e free from the bonds of time and history can the hero thrive in the realm of "once upon a time." At the same time, by sending her hero off to the protection of the continent, beyond the range of the harsh Middlemarch stage, Elio 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 in the c h i l l November, takes him eventually to Rome, a city of stupendous art and architecture warmly lighted by the glow of past glory and empire—a perfect hunting ground for the poetic imagination. There, far from the unfriendly medium of Middlemarch, Will reaches his zenith as a romantic hero. There, Dorothea is 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 Will'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 literary position and the degree to which i t is vulnerable to harsh words and images. Ladislaw (functioning as Eliot'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 in concrete detail what must be l e f t ethereal. In other words, what James and Leavis regard as the shortcoming of Eliot's portrait of Ladislaw, Will identifies as crucial 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 portrait with a background which every connoisseur would give a different reason for or against. And what i s the portrait of a woman? Your painting and Plastik are poor stuff after a l l . They perturb and dull conceptions instead of raising them. Language is a finer medium. (M, pp. 141-2) Painting lowers the heroine by making her image concrete and, as Will's discussion of background suggests, placing her in a specific relation to the world that i s subject to rational debate. Such relation or connection wi l l not do in romance: i f Dorothea is to be worshipped she must occupy a position beyond the worldly context. Will understands this perfectly well: - 57 -"Language gives a fuller image, which is the better for being vague. After a l l , the true seeing is within; and painting stares at you with an insistent imperfection. I feel that especially about representations of women". (M, p. 142) Language may well be the finer medium, but not always in the sense that Will imagines: just as the sensibilities 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 detail of Dorothea's beauty, than Will got exasperated at his presumption: there was a grossness in 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 details of Naumann's prosiac language are as incompatible with Will's romance world in Rome as the unimaginative, unpoetic, prose of the Middlemarchers who view Dorothea as a woman among other women: Celia profanes Will's divinity by referring to her as "Dodo." In the same way that Will's romance i s shaken when Naumann refers to Dorothea as his aunt, so Dorothea's imaginings of marriage—that state of "higher duties"—with 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 in i t s usual tone" (M, pp. 30, 17, 35). Both hero and heroine are threatened by the concrete image, the vulgar vision created by carnally-minded prose which, through i t s insistance on petty physical detail, 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. Ironically, the arrival of his heroine in Rome resubmits the hero to the prosaic conditions of the world he has tried to escape. Having become "one" with Casaubon in 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. During his meetings with Dorothea, Will's debt to his benefactor, Casaubon, becomes a painful reality. And, just as serious, Dorothea eliminates the hero's freedom from Middlemarch time—"When George the Fourth was s t i l l reigning over the privacies of Windsor"—by placing this freedom in relation to the business of l i f e in provincial England: the narrator t e l l s us that she was "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 in placing Will in relation to Middlemarch, he begins to understand his own situation. He sees that Casaubon is not the archetypal, mythological dragon of romance, but "something more unmanageable than a dragon: he was a benefactor with collective society at his back" (M, p. 155). Will's ultimate acknowledgement of the reality 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 in order to earn his daily bread. According to the conventions of realism, of course, his reasons for doing so are as valid as they are contradictory and complex: every man must work to eat, but exactly how a man harnesses himself to a job in order to be free is 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 celestial heights. - 59 -Our last glimpse of Will in Rome leaves no doubt that Eliot intends us to keep in mind the increasingly ironic 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 originality as we a l l share with the morning and the springtime and other endless renewals" (M, p. 166). In addition to identifying the hero with the rising sun, she recalls our attention to the archetypal battle between the young hero and the old enemy: Casaubon's return at the end of Book Two, appropriately entitled "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 in Rome until he surfaces again in 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 is to favour Casaubon, whose habit of saying "my love when his manner was the coldest" makes this impossible (M, p. 167). Eliot expresses Ladislaw's renewed vigour by making his return correspond with the seasonal rising of the sun in spring. She brings the hero home from his journey before he has been able to engage in the pathos or death-struggle; ironically, his enemy has been at home a l l along. In one sense, the enemy is Casaubon and the society he represents; in another sense, i t is the r e a l i s t i c prose of the study. The goal of Eliot's study is to shed light on, and provide a clear view of, the "various entanglements, weights, blows, clashings, motions by which things severally go on" in Middlemarch (M, p. 216). Its primary convention is that, through close observation and precise referential language, a physical reality w i l l - 60 -be faithfully and sincerely described. Will's return to Middlemarch places him under the harsh light 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 actively play as i f they were so many animated tax-pennies, a stronger lens reveals to you certain tiniest hairlets which make vortices for these victims while the swallower waits passively at his receipt of custom. (M, p. 44) As this ironic foreshadowing of Will's fate suggests, the conventions of the study do not bode well for the romantic hero; under their light he must surely gather "the faultiness of closer acquaintanceship" (M, p. 71). Even Rosamond knows that in "romance i t [is] not necessary to imagine much about the inward l i f e of the hero, or of his serious business in the world" (M, p. 123). The language of the study, however, is concerned with nothing but the hero's serious business in the world. Will's descent from the poetic ideal of the romance hero, already begun in Rome, gains momemtum the moment he sets foot in the "prosaic neighbourhood of Middlemarch" (M, p. 236). Mrs. Cadwallader's cutting tongue immediately drags Will down from the heights of Brooke's rising star to refer to him as "'a very pretty sprig. . . . one who can write speeches'" (M, p.241). Brooke himself corroborates this f a l l by dropping his earlier identification of Will with the Romantic poet/heroes of Byron, Chatterton, and Churchill, replacing i t with a much more worldly trio of writers: "'He would make a good secretary, now, like Hobbes, Milton, Swift—that sort of man'" (M, p.241). Later, Brooke refers to Will as "'a kind of Shelley,'" meaning the statesman not the Promethean poet (M, p. 263). According to Brooke, Will has "the same - 61 -sort of enthusiasm for liberty, freedom, emancipation—a fine thing under guidance—under guidance you know. I think I shall 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 Will 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 literary form, is bound to the hard facts of l i f e , to the ticking of the clock, to the "sordid present" of the day. When Will begins work on the newspaper he descends to the low rung of "those newspaper fellows" whose very names, like "Keck," are an affront to the ear (M, p. 278). His identification with the newspaper also places him in an incongruously antagonistic relation to Dorothea, described by Eliot on the f i r s t page of the novel as having the "impressiveness of a fine quotation from the Bible . . . in 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, allegorical and anagogical levels; i t does not ignore the history of real events, but i t subordinates these to a spiritual truth that transcends human reality. 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 Biblical language as surely as Middlemarch can incorporate i t s id e a l i s t i c citizens: Eliot's literary signs keep drawing our attention back to the literary realm in which Will, as a result of the names identified with him, is becoming an increasingly prosiac cluster of signs. Will's association with the newspaper and i t s - 62 -vulgar interests appropriately subjects him to the gossip of his neighbors, to the "speech vortices" of Mrs. Cadwallader and others who feed like hungry birds on this verbal sustenance. As Sir James says: "I find he's in everybody's mouth in Middlemarch as the editor of the 'Pioneer'. There are stories going about him as a quill-driving alien, a foreign emissary, and what not. (M, p. 278) As a literary 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 narrator—both can highlight either Will's illusory l i f e as a character-person, or his literary l i f e as an arrangement of verbal signs. Will's identification with newspaper prose does not prevent Eliot from re-assigning him the role of romance hero, which is exactly what she does when she describes Will's resolution to stay in Middlemarch in 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 (M, p. 344). As Ladislaw makes his way to the church, the narrator re-introduces the familiar light imagery: Sometimes, when he took off his hat, shaking his head backward, and showing his delicate throat as he sang, he looked like 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 in uncertain promises. (M, p. 345) At this relatively late stage in the narrative, Will's "uncertain promises" are perhaps not as limitless 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 fel 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 it 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 is "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 is not here, A shadow that is 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 lyric, 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 -is identified, 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 in isolation from the facts of l i f e : "Lyric derives i t s power from isolating strong feeling, and the novelist provides the history from which l y r i c is usually happily cut o f f . " 1 2 When Ladislaw enters the church, he steps into the dangerous world of reality and leaves the charmed world of romance and l y r i c poetry behind. This transition must also be seen as a f a l l from the height of poetry and the related metaphorical worship of Dorothea, to the level of l i t e r a l , descriptive prose. By sending him into the church, Eliot calls the bluff of romance convention, and brings the hero down to earth through a l i t e r a l interpretation of his worship; quite logically, and quite ironically, this puts him in a real place of worship. Not surprisingly, the hero fares badly. Will expects to sit in 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 in her direction; his ideal vision is further marred by "Mr. Rigg's frog-face . . . something alien and unaccountable" (M, p. 346). Eliot communicates the overwhelming reality of the church to the reader through an allusion to time and p o l i t i c a l history: "Even in 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 feel the weight of social hierarchy and structure fe l t by referring to the three generations of decent cottagers [who] came as of old with a sense of duty to their betters generally—the smaller children regarding Mr. Casaubon, who wore the black gown and 12 Barbara Hardy, "Middlemarch and the Passions," This Particular Web, pp. 17, 18. - 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 details the romance hero is deflated: There was no delivering himself from his cage, however; and Will found his places and looked at his book as i f he had been a schoolmistress feeling that . . . he was utterly ridiculous, out of temper, and miserable. This was what a man got by worshipping the sight of a woman! (M, p. 346) Thus, the ironic 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 join in the tune of Hanover, and reflected that he might have a cold." When Will f i n a l l y leaves the church, "the lights were a l l changed for him both without and within" (M, p. 347). One light that continues to shine on Will as long as he remains in Middlemarch, however, is the narrator's observant eye. This light reveals that, far from transcending or rebelling against the narrowness of provincial l i f e , Will's movement comes to be visibly determined by the gossip of his neighbours who make him out to be a "needy adventurer trying to win the favour of a rich woman" (M, p. 365). While the unpleasant gossip about Will certainly inclines him to flee, he is not forced to leave until certain oppressive words are spoken and certain ugly facts are brought to light. The fact of Will's mixed genealogy, for example, which raises i t s head through his connection with Bulstrode, effectively eliminates his mysterious past altogether. Farebrother is 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 lik 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 dirt 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 is in real danger of expiring. He receives his next blow from his discovery of Casaubon's c o d i c i l . This legal document that explicitly states the unfitness of any union between Will and Dorothea i s really just a physical, factual embodiment of Public Opinion: Casaubon's will i s the w i l l of the collective society of Middlemarch. Like many of the novel's ugly facts, the codicil comes to light through the gossip Rosamond has managed to pick up and convey inadvertently to Will. The hero receives his final blow through the medium of Mrs. Cadwallader, whose cutting tongue uses the image of Will f l i r t i n g with Rosamond to precipitate Will's f l i g h t , to chase him away with "the vision of that unfittingness of any closer relation between them which lay in the opinion of every one connected with [Dorothea]" (M, p. 466). Will's sordid past comes to light as a direct result of Raffles's "unaccountable urge to t e l l " about Buistrode's past crimes; the codicil separating the hero and heroine makes i t s e l f felt to Will through Rosamond's chatter (M, p. 515). To gossip is to relate scandal; gossip is thus the "relation 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, birth, money and class (M, pp. 527, 44). And the "facts" brought to light through gossip, like a l l other factual detail of the novel, hang as so many millstones around the neck of the romantic hero. When Will staggers off stage for the second time, Eliot signals the reader that, like the f i r s t time she summarily dispatched him to Rome, she - 67 -i s s t i l l pulling the strings of her agent, s t i l l using him in the telling of her story. She does so by beginning the chapter of his departure with a te l l i n g allusion to romance literature: 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 possibility of the hero's completing his quest, by outlining in nightmarish detail the form that the dragon may take in Middlemarchian society. Casaubon's death gives birth 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) is displaced. The third stage, (the anagnorisis) does occur when Will's parentage is 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 effect, Will's departure marks the end of a failed cycle and the beginning of another which is not without ironic overtones. Eliot forces Will to try a second time because she is 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 literary convention: The choice of Hercules is 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 distaff, and at last wore the Nessus shirt. 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 disparity between the - 68 -expectations that accompany these opposing conventions is a source of irony: As structure, the central principle of ironic myth is 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 in unexpected ways. (Anat. p. 223) Will's second departure, like his second farewell to Dorothea (both the result of r e a l i s t i c complications), generates ironic humour: It is certainly trying to a man's dignity to reappear when he is not expected to do so: a f i r s t farewell has pathos in i t , but to come back for a second lends an opening to comedy. (M, p. 458) By the time Will sets out to try a second quest, he has fallen 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) (M, p. 395). Although he is ostensibly moving away from Middlemarch society, he i s actually moving toward i t s very center by studying the law that is at once the heart and arm of that society's power. Will's metaphor of eating harks back to other images of devouring and swallowing, especially as they relate to another aspiring hero: "Middlemarch, in fact, counted on swallowing Lydgate and assimilating him very comfortably" (M, p. 114). In terms of the conventions of romance, Will's journey to London to "eat his dinners" Is really the fattening of the s a c r i f i c i a l calf for slaughter: Exiles notoriously feed much on hopes, and are unlikely to stay in banishment unless they are obliged. . . . and as to the suspicious friends who kept a dragon watch over her— their opinions seemed less and less important with time and change of air . (M, p. 586) - 69 -Appropriately, Eliot has her rejuvenated hero rise again in the spring. She sets the stage further by re-creating that mysterious sympathy with nature for 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 feeling. (M, p. 567) As every romance heroine should be, Dorothea is suspended, isolated from the rea l i t i e s of place and time: "Dorothea had less of outward vision 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 Will holding Rosamond's hands and speaking with "low toned fervour," however, her indefinite vision of the future is replaced by "the terrible illumination of a certainty" (M, p. 568). The "terrible collapse of the il l u s i o n " of a promising future with Dorothea drives Will 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 is the most precious; the total world of romance begins to collapse when the reader, like Will, is forced to see too clearly 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 dull consent into insipid misdoing and shabby achievement. Poor Lydgate was inwardly groaning on that margin and Will was arriving at i t . (M, p. 574) In terms of Will's role in the discourse, the collapse of the promising future of romance marks yet another stage in his struggle with the conventions of realism which allow the naming of what must not be named. The articulation of the future fi n a l l y pushes Will beyond the - 70 -conflict phase of his quest to the death-struggle, a phase which, according to Frye, is often followed by the sparagmos: the disappearance or dismembering of the hero, often though a symbolic swallowing like that of Jonah by Leviathan. The narrator provides the appropriate imagery when she says that Will's last meeting with Dorothea leaves him with "no more foretaste of enjoyment in 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). Will's third departure fron Middlemarch marks yet another ironic repetition of the quest motif. This time, however, Eliot sends her hero only as far as Riverston, another provincial town, and brings him back within a day for the long-awaited reunion with his heroine. Instead of taking Dorothea in his arms as a good romance hero should undoubtedly do, however, Will must f i r s t deal with his troublesome hat and gloves: He took her hand and raised i t to his lips with something like a sob. But he stood with his hat and gloves in the other hand, and might have done for the portrait 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 in a confusion that distressed her, looked and moved away (M, p. 592). And then we are told that Will 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). As i t has been from the beginning, the romantic hero's battle i s really with these petty details. Even the couple's decision to marry occurs against the background of mundane considerations of money and career. To Will's complaint that he is hardly capable of keeping himself decently, Dorothea counters with an equally r e a l i s t i c statement: "We could live quite well on my own f o r t u n e — i t is too much—seven hundred a-year—I want so l i t t l e — n o new clothes—and I w i l l learn what everything costs." (M, p. 594) ~ These details provide a resoundingly negative answer to the question Will has asked himself earlier: Until that wretched yesterday—except the moment of vexation long ago in the very same room and in the very same presence—all their vision, a l l their thought of each other, had been as in a world apart, where the sunshine f e l l on t a l l white l i l i e s , where no evil 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 reality at the beginning of the chapter immediately following the reunion of Will and Dorothea by rooting the two of them in a temporal and social 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 Sir 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 in his chariot, and, as became the infantile Bouddha, was sheltered by his sacred umbrella with handsome silken fringe. (M, p. 595) Were Eliot to end the novel at this point, the reader would s t i l l be able to redeem the romance world somewhat by insisting on the possibility of the hero and the heroine li v i n g "happily ever after" in a vague and distant future beyond the bounds of the text. Eliot does not allow the reader this luxury; instead, she draws the reader over the edge of the romance world by shrewdly appealing to his desire to know: - 72 -Every limit i s a beginning as well as an ending. Who can quit young lives after being long in company with them, and not desire to know what befell them in their after-years? (M, p. 607) The reader's desire to know, to be narrated to, to be told, i s the obverse of the "unaccountable impulse to t e l l " that the narrator attributes especially to Raffles, but which applies with equal relevance to a l l the gossips, and other relators of stories in the novel. The character-person who most directly feeds the reader's desire to know is the narrator who uses a l l the other characters in the novel as mediums for the details, facts and relations that bring the story to i t s close. The Finale is the final 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 Will and Dorothea's marriage derives i t s significance from the literary universe. Marriage, which has been the bourne of so many narratives, i s s t i l l a great beginning, as i t was to Adam and Eve, who kept their honeymoon in Eden, but had their f i r s t l i t t l e one among the thorns and thistles of the wilderness. It is s t i l l the beginning of the home epic. (M, p. 608) 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 pity that so substantive and rare a creature should have been absorbed into the l i f e of another, and be only known in a certain ci 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 is consumed, swallowed by her husband. This image of devouring refers back to the metaphorical identification of Dorothea - 73 -with a "fine quotation from the Bible" incorporated in "a paragraph of today's newspaper" with which Will is associated. Poetic justice has been done to Dorothea. 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 definitively names what he becomes: Will became an ardent public man, working well in those times when reforms were begun with a hopefulness of immediate good which has been much checked in our days and getting at last returned to Parliament by a constituency who paid his expenses. (M, pp. 610-11) If the mythical dragon of romance is fu 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 collective society as represented by Parliament. Extending Brooke's metaphor of Middlemarch as " a l l one family, you know," Parliament becomes Hobbes' Leviathan, the collective body of the citizens, the voice of the commons (M, p. 367). In this light, the real death-struggle (pathos), and devouring of the hero (sparagmos) occurs when Will enters the mouth of the real dragon. In entering Parliament, Will lives 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 fin a l damning detail: Mr Brooke lived 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 sti f l e d i f he remained out of doors. (M, p. 612) The implication is clear enough: Will's "hopefulness for immediate good" is deceived, and his ideas expire for lack of air in the belly of the monster. - 74 -The fi n a l defeat of the romance hero, accomplished through the collapse of romance conventions in the jaws of prosaic realism, brings Will's role as character-agent to an end. The irony of the hero's failure to rise above his prosaic medium i s heightened by Eliot's careful maintenance of the conventional mystery of his past and future and of his "insubstantial" personality as a character-person, which i s not dispelled until the bitter end of the narrative when the romance hero is burdened with the last fatal details before being swallowed by the hungry prose. Will's function as a character-agent, while perhaps never entirely distinct from the i l l u s i o n of the character-person, i s sufficiently prominent to shift the reader's attention from the il l u s i o n of the reality of Middlemarch to the reality of Middlemarch and the literary realm in general; from the impossibility of Will's attaining to heroic stature in the "prosaic neighborhood of Middlemarch" to the impossibility of sustaining romance convention in the medium of prose; from the way in which that ubiquitous "web of circumstance," along with their bourgeois desire for conformity, devours the Middlemarchers to the way in 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 right, i t is because, like Defoe, Eliot incorporates and undermines traditional literary conventions in order to strengthen the impact of her novel's realism. In contrast to the effect of Defoe's upsetting of picaresque convention, however, Eliot's upsetting of romance conventions reveals novelistic realism in general, and Will Ladislaw in particular, to be conventions in themselves. As Joyce illustrates so clearly in Ulysses, these conventions, too, can be undermined. By undercutting both the re 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 relentlessly illuminating i t s agency in relation to literary conventions, Joyce makes the language of character an object of thematic concern—a character in i t s own right. - 76 -CHAPTER 4 BOLLOPEDOOM AS CHARACTER-CHARACTER In the course of his odyssey through Ulysses, Leopold Blooms into l i n g u i s t i c configurations undreamt of i n e i t h e r Moll Flanders or Middlemarch. He begins as a man of apparently stable sexual and psychological i d e n t i t y i n "Calypso," but i n "Circe" J o l l y p o l d y the r i x i d i x doldy assumes the appearance of a woman who brings f o r t h m e t a l l i c man ch i l d r e n only. Bloowhom's face resembles, among others, those of Lord Byron, Sherlock Holmes and Rip Van Winkle; and his words and actions, say 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, Dr. SIgmund Freud, Dante, I t a l o Svevo and Odysseus of the nimble wits: when i n doubt name Bloom. 1 In l i g h t of Bloom's countless transformations and metamorphoses, Dr. Mulligan's assertion that "he [Bloom] i s more sinned against than s i n n i n g " — a humane judgement which allows, i n modern generosity of s p i r i t , for Bloom's "family complex" and his "metal teeth"—becomes 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 character. If Bloom i s to be judged thus, then how s h a l l we evaluate THE SOAP, THE BUCKLES and THE KISSES? The physician's assessment does, however, take on the colour of truth i f we adopt a r e a l i s t i c view of discourse and read Bloom not for who he i s as a character-person, but for what he i s as a l i t e r a r y character: a configuration of language. From t h i s viewpoint, the transgressor, the one who sins against Bloom, becomes the reader who c o n s i s t e n t l y sees through the language of character to a f i c t i o n a l man who William York T i n d a l l , "Mosaic Bloom," Mosaic, 6 ( F a l l 1972), p. 3. - 77 -can be described by the masculine pronoun "he." Joyce, however, uses the language that is Bloom to prevent such mistaking of identity. The text of Ulysses is covered with verbal scars that mark breaks in literary conventions and provide glimpses of Ellpodbomool's true identity, an identity not fully revealed until the hero's homecoming is accomplished. And without his disguise, where is Bloom? According to the fi n a l sign in "Ithaca," she returns to where he • 2 The performance over, Bollopedoom assumes the existence of a dot of ink, a sign sufficiently opaque to remind the reader that literary character cannot be seen i f i t is seen through. Without the benefit of the Telemachus chapters, the reader of the opening lines of "Calypso" would be ju s t i f i e d in believing himself to be at the beginning of a far more traditional novel: "Mr Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls" (U_ , p. 57), is 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 is revealed through action, taste in food, in dress, in interior decoration, etc. We are told, for example, that Bloom wears a "lost property office secondhand waterproof," a fact which reveals his financial 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 in either of the f i r s t Random House or Bodley Head editions of the novel, but i t can be clearly seen in 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 in the text. 3 George E l i o t , Middlemarch (Boston: Houghton M i f f l i n Company, 1956), p. 5. - 78 -him very q u i e t l y , more, t i l l the f o o t l e a f dropped gently over the threshold, a limp l i d " appears to reveal personality: his respect f o r others (Molly i s dozing), his meticulous i n t e r e s t i n minute d e t a i l (U_, pp. 58 , 5 9 ) . Such f a c t u a l d e t a i l functions to create the i l l u s i o n that Bloom i s a person, an advertising salesman who l i v e s i n a c i t y , Dublin, which exists beyond the text; such d e t a i l creates the appearance of r e a l i t y . In "Calypso," much f a c t u a l d e t a i l i s supplied through Bloom's "stream of consciousness" or " i n t e r i o r monologue," terms used to describe language i n the text which, while not formally distinguished from the rest of the narration, appears to describe Bloom's thoughts. Like other r e a l i s t i c d e t a i l s of the novel, these thoughts strengthen the i l l u s i o n that Bloom i s a person, and they do so i n the same way that a character's speech allows him to appear to be a person. What a character says or thinks i s , i n t h i s context, of secondary importance to his speaking and thinking at a l l . The descriptions of Bloom's thoughts may be as convincing as the d e s c r i p t i o n of the way i n which he closes the door. But to confuse t h i s p l a u s i b i l i t y with v e r a c i t y i s to forget the c a r d i n a l convention that the r e a l i t y - p r i n c i p l e i n l i t e r a t u r e i s always secondary to the p l e a s u r e - p r i n c i p l e . Many r e a l i s t i c d e t a i l s i n Ulysses function not f a i t h f u l l y to describe the external r e a l i t i e s of Bloom's mind and the c i t y of Dublin, but rather to illuminate the novel as a l i t e r a r y work which exists i n v i t a l r e l a t i o n to the rest of l i t e r a t u r e . One such aspect of t h i s r e l a t i o n i s the p a r a l l e l between Leopold Bloom and Homer's Odysseus. As indicated i n the introductory paragraph of t h i s chapter, the Homeric p a r a l l e l i s not the only one of i n t e r e s t i n r e l a t i o n to Bloom, but i t s influence on the structure and c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n of Ulysses i s the most important; i t w i l l , therefore, be the focus of t h i s a n a l ysis. - 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 upon in her reading of "Ruby:  the Pride of the Ring." "'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 Bits: Splendid masterpiece in art colours. Tea before you put milk in. 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 in this passage about the working of Bloom's mind and about the level of Molly's taste in art also alludes to the nymph Calypso, who, in the Odyssey, holds Odysseus prisoner In her Mediterranean cave for years on end while he weeps for his home. Molly, too, is from the Mediterranean; her father was once stationed at Gibraltar. 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 is 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 far from Dublin to "somewhere in the east": Turbaned faces going by. Dark caves of carpet shops, big man, Turko the terrible, seated crosslegged smoking a coiled pipe. Cries of sellers in the streets. Drink water scented with fennel, sherbet.. Wander along a l l day . . . . Getting Stuart Gilbert, James Joyce's Ulysses (New York: Random House, 1955), pp. 140-143. - 80 -on to sundown . . . . A shiver of the trees, s i g n a l , the evening wind . . . . Fading gold sky . . . . Night sky moon, v i o l e t , colour of Molly's new garters. Strings. L i s t e n . A g i r l playing one of these instruments what do you c a l l them: dulcimers. I pass. (JJ, p. 59) The clouds of Dublin soon d i s p e l Bloom's longing for t h i s exotic land of " s i l v e r powdered o l i v e trees," oranges and c i t r o n s . Under t h e i r grey weight Bloom's longing for the homeland of the Jews, his people, turns to a f e e l i n g of desolation: No, not l i k e that. A barren land, bare waste. Vulcanic lake, the dead sea: no f i s h , weedless, sunk deep i n the earth . . . . A dead sea i n a dead land, grey and old. Old now. It bore the oldest, the f i r s t race. (U, p. 63) Like Odysseus, Bloom i s a wanderer, a stranger i n a foreign land who longs to return to his home. These examples indicate that the correspondence between Ulysses and The Odyssey i s only p a r t i a l ; Bloom i s not completely determined by Odysseus. Deviations from the Homeric convention, such as the double role of Molly as Calypso and Penelope, Bloom's Jewish as opposed to Odysseus' Greek heritage, and his cat instead of Odysseus' dog, have provided c r i t i c s with grounds for both serious speculation and l i g h t amusement. The i n t i a l e f f e c t of the Homeric p a r a l l e l , according to Harry Levin, i s to reduce 5 Bloom to "mock-heroic absurdity. Indeed, Bloom i s an advertisement-canvasser, not an adventurous warrior, and he does return at the end of h i s tr a v e l s to a f a i t h l e s s Penelope who has cuckolded him that very day. Beyond this i n i t i a l parody, argues Morton L e v i t t , l i e s another Bloom who " i s more of a hero than he could ever imagine. With overpowering irony, Bloom, who can father no son, becomes i n a s t e r i l e universe a sort Harry Levin, James Joyce (New York: New Dire c t i o n s , 1960), p.73. - 81 -of archetype of f e r t i l i t y . " Such comparisons of the two heroes in relation to their respective societies and historical conditions constitute no doubt a valid thematic approach to the novel. They shall not, however, be the focus of this chapter, which w i l l deal Instead with the way the Homeric parallel provides a clear backdrop against which Bloom may be revealed as a literary character. In this regard, the parallel functions in much the same way as the romance conventions do in Middlemarch, though i t does so in a far more expl i c i t , v isible manner. As a literary character, Bloom is more firmly rooted in the literary realm than either Will or Moll: his odyssey takes him back not only to Homer's epic and Odysseus, but to the very spring of literary character—language i t s e l f . Throughout Ulysses, a l l psychological, sociological, and historical explanations of Bloom's behavior and motivation must compete for relevance with the obvious explanations provided by the Homeric parallel. For example, when Bloom enters Barney Kieran's bar, he is acting in accord with the Homeric convention according to which Odysseus enters the Cyclops' cave; in effect, 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 is continuing to play his role as set out in Homer. Does Bloom smoke the cigar because he is a smoker? Or is he a smoker because he smokes a cigar? Further, what kind of man smokes a cigar? Is Bloom orally fixated? A l l such questions are secondary to the wi 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 rhetorically, the Cyclops' eye. 6Morton P. Levitt, "A Hero for our Time: Leopold Bloom and the Myth of Ulysses," JJQ, 10 (Fall 1972), p. 137. - 82 -Thus, one significance of the Homeric parallel l i e s in the way i t clearly reveals the familiar tautology between character and action. Countless times during the course of Ulysses, the Homeric parallel assumes a visible position on the stage, providing a mirror image (more or less distorted) of Bloom's actions, showing them to be determined by the literary 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 relative to i t s supposed referent outside the literary realm. This view of Bloom, of course, is only one of many. Other readers might argue that Bloom's motive for smoking a cigar can be determined in relation to Odysseus' motive for devising the olive stake, that the Dubliner's personality can be discerned in the Greek's. Perhaps Odysseus' ruse manifests what W. B. Stanford regards as the hero's primary t r a i t : "cleverness in the widest sense, a cleverness ranging from the highest wisdom and intelligence to the lowest cunning." Or, perhaps Odysseus' calculated action is a sign of his unquenchable thirst for l i f e , or of his 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! . . . A l l that has now happened [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 is an episode of the W. B. Stanford, "Ulyssean Qualities in Leopold Bloom." Comp. L i t . , 5 (Spring 1953), p. 133. g Homer, The Odyssey (Middlesex: Penguin, 1946), p. 153. Future references w i l l follow quotations in the text. - 83 -hero's odyssey written by the gods, forgers of human deeds. Themselves characters i n Homer's epic, the gods appear as the authors of Odysseus' deeds. And i f the character, Odysseus, i s without personality as a r e s u l t , then Leopold Bloom i s doubly so; the Dubliner i s forced to re-enact the same deeds Odysseus before him was forced to act. The author of Bloom's deeds, however, prefers to stay offstage. What remains i n view i n "Cyclops" i s the way the Homeric p a r a l l e l suspends Bloom from the f i c t i o n a l r e a l i t y of Dublin, replacing the r e a l i s t i c view of character with the r e a l i s t i c view of discourse. According to the r e a l i s t i c view of discourse, which considers the character's environment to be one of the words, the most important point of divergence between the Homeric Cyclops episode and the Joycean version i s the hero's r e l a t i o n to t h i s environment. The difference between Odysseus and Bloom i s s t r i k i n g i n t h i s regard. Whereas Odysseus appears to control the narration of the Homeric version, i n Ulysses Bloom i s l a r g e l y deprived of the rig h t to speak. And as both The Odyssey and Moll Flanders make abundantly c l e a r , the a b i l i t y to speak, to say " I " , constitutes a narrative power of the most important sort: l i k e Moll Flanders, Odysseus attains heroic stature at least i n part because the discourse that gives him l i f e permits him to say " I " , to name himself and t e l l his own story. In Homer's Cyclops episode, the framing narrator claims but a single sentence at the beginning of the chapter before passing the narrative reins to Odysseus: "In answer to the King, t h i s i s how Odysseus, the man of many resources, began his t a l e " (Odyssey, p. 139). Then, a f t e r a b r i e f preamble, Odysseus introduces himself: "I am Odysseus, Laertes' son. The whole world talks of my stratagems, and my fame has reached the heavens" (Odyssey, p. 139). The self-assurance and confidence with which the hero - 84 -speaks is due no doubt to the fact that he is surrounded by an appreciative audience and out of range of the Cyclops. And from a l l outward appearance, he is also out of the range of the framing narrator; he is free to say what he likes. 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 visitors one by one, Odysseus is tempted to k i l l the monster immediately. Upon reflection he decides to follow a more prudent course by blinding him and escaping from the cave when the sheep are let 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 in return I should like to have the gift you promised me. My name is Nobody. That is what I am called by my mother and father and by a l l my friends." (Odyssey, p. 149) The success of this wile is complete. After Odysseus has put out his eye, the Cyclops begins to scream in agony. Hearing these cries, 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 replies: "'0 my friends, i t ' s Nobody's treachery, no violence, that i s doing me to death.'" "'Well then,'" his friends respond, " ' i f nobody is assaulting you in your solitude, you must be sick. Sickness comes from almighty Zeus and cannot be helped.'" Saying this they depart, leaving Odysseus to relish his victory: "'And off they went, while I chuckled to myself at the way in which my happy notion of a false name had taken them i n ' " (Odyssey, p. 150). - 85 -Odysseus' a b i l i t y to name himself, and so bl i n d the Cyclops metaphorically, more than his a b i l i t y to blin d the monster p h y s i c a l l y , allows his escape from bondage. The act of naming here i s cl o s e l y related to knowing: Odysseus gives himself a f a l s e name that i s completely true to his purpose, which i s to exercise his prowess as poet and l i a r using language that appears to, but a c t u a l l y does not, r e f e r to r e a l i t y . By the same token, the Cyclops' use of "Nobody," because he i s unaware of the name's true import (and of the dangers inherent i n his ignorance), can be seen as a f a l s e naming that works to his disadvantage. In Homer's Cyclops episode, the a b i l i t y to speak, which i s the a b i l i t y to name, both constitutes and r e f l e c t s the power of the one who speaks: once Odysseus has put out the eye of the Cyclops, he must remain s i l e n t for fear of his l i f e ; once out of range of the monster, his security permits him to speak his name f r e e l y and to taunt his vi c t i m . Odysseus' apparent a b i l i t y to speak i s , as we have said, a narrative i l l u s i o n . The same i s true of Moll Flanders. Bloom's i n a b i l i t y to control the discourse to the same degree as Odysseus i s the d i r e c t r e s u l t of Joyce's desire to c a l l attention to t h i s i l l u s i o n , a feat to be accomplished only at the expense of Bloom as a conventional character-person. In order to destroy the i l l u s i o n of the character's autonomy, the discourse of Ulysses plays with Bloom, gives him occasional control of the words that constitute him, l e t s him r i s e to the surface of the na r r a t i v e , and then reclaims t h i s control and swallows him i n a sea of words. In t h i s way, the discourse draws attention to the subservience of character to language. If the Homeric p a r a l l e l i s applied to the primary f i c t i o n a l l e v e l , we see that, whereas the Cyclops devours Odysseus' men by dashing t h e i r - 86 -brains on the ground and tearing them limb from limb with ravenous jaws, the Dubliners devour Bloom with their gossip. And to gossip, according to the OED, i s "to give a name to." Naming can be a creative act as i t was for God and, to a lesser degree, Adam, or, as the bar scene illustrates so clearly, 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." And underlying a l l these insults i s the f a c t — a fact unspeakably ugly in the eyes of his enemies—that Bloom is a Jew . . . "'as cute as a shithouse rat'" (U_, pp.333-6). The whole thrust of the gossip is to deprive Bloom of his integrity as a man. The concern he is said to have shown for his pregnant wife calls into question his masculinity: "'Do you c a l l that a man?'" asks the Citizen. Rumours of Molly's affair with Blazes Boylan compromise Bloom's status as a father; Jack Power's mention of Bloom's two children prompts the Citizen to ask: "'And who does he suspect?'" The effect the gossip has on Bloom is underlined by one of the chapter's numerous plays on words. In the following passage, John Wyse (wise because he asks "whys"?) asks for verification of the rumours he has been spreading at Bloom's expense: -Isn't that a fact, says John Wyse, what I was telling the citizen about Bloom and the Sinn Fein? -That's so, says Martin. Or so they allege. -Who made those allegations? says Alf. - I , says Joe. I'm the alligator. (U, p. 335) - 87 -Like every play on words, t h i s one s h i f t s attention from the referent of language to language i t s e l f , and i n v i t e s a closer look at the ways i n which Bloom i s devoured by the language of the text. The greatest a l l i g a t o r of them a l l i s of course the narrator, the i n h e r i t o r (or usurper) of Odyseus' power to narrate, through whose eye, or " I , " the reader gains access to the primary r e a l i t y of Barney Kiernan's bar. In other words, the secondary l e v e l of narration determines how and when the r e a l i t y of the bar s h a l l f i n d expression i n the novel. As a character who i s presumably i n the bar, the narrator p a r t i c i p a t e s i n the general attack on Bloom's i n t e g r i t y ; i n his capacity of narrator, he devours Bloom by depriving him of access to the narration. Readers may, once again, f i n d t h i s explanation of what i s happening to Bloom unconvincing. They may reject the idea that he i s being picked up and dropped or swallowed by the discourse, and counter that " I " i s a man, a character-person who i s or was present at Barney Kiernan's, and who d i s l i k e s Bloom as much as the others do. The movement of the narrator's attention to and from Bloom could then be explained i n terms of human psychology: the narrator acknowledges Bloom's presence only r e l u c t a n t l y , as he would that of a troublesome i n s e c t , and ignores his presence as much as possible. The attempt to read " I " as a character-person, however, i s r e s i s t e d by the discourse of "Cylops" even more strongly than the attempt to do the same with Bloom, though the two are related as we s h a l l see. Although the narrator's beer consumption and subsequent u r i n a t i o n , along with h i s a b i l i t y to speak (or w r i t e ) , are signs of his all-too-human "humanity," he i s not quite a person l i k e the others. 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 reader's attempts to make a man of him by appealing to natural and c u l t u r a l conventions are impeded by a combination of l i t e r a r y conventions, not the least of which i s the Homeric p a r a l l e l . Regarded as a conventional character-person under the l i g h t of realism, " I " cannot be d e f i n i t i v e l y fixed i n any one physical l o c a t i o n . Nor can one determine to whom he i s speaking or at what time he i s doing so. In his attempt to name the "unnamed" narrator and understand his story, David Hayraan adheres to such l o g i c : He i s a f t e r a l l a "person" i n Joyce's Dublin, i n the Dublin of Ulysses, and therefore must be i n some way considered i n the l i g h t of normal behavior. In that l i g h t , he must be t e l l i n g the story to someone. If he i s t e l l i n g the story to someone, he must be t e l l i n g i t at a l a t e r period. I f he i s t e l l i n g i t at a l a t e r priod, i t i s probably l a t e r that night. If i t i s l a t e r that night, i t i s very l i k e l y that he i s t e l l i n g the story i n a pub, to a drink-donor, at about the time when Bloom himself i s asleep on the strand. Hayman's e f f o r t to f i l l i n the gaps involves the t e l l i n g of another story, one that creaks s o r r i l y when i t asks us to believe that the narrator's i n t e r j e c t i o n s , his swallowing of beer, and his urinatio n correspond p e r f e c t l y with i d e n t i c a l events at Barney Kiernan's. The irony i n his i n t e r p r e t a t i o n appears when he t r i e s to j u s t i f y his r e a l i s t i c view by arguing that such coincidence i s conventional, and not unusual i n f i c t i o n . Herbert Schneidau responds to this argument by countering that " I " i s i n fact i n the bar during the narration, and that his narration i s ac t u a l l y simultaneous with the events themselves, a kind of rehearsal, an 9 David Hayman, "Two Eyes at Two Levels: A response to Herbert Schneidau on Joyce's 'Cyclops,'" JJQ, 16 (Winter 1978), pp. 107-108. 10Hayman, p. 106. - 89 -interior monologue of the story he w i l l later recount over a beer or two. 1 1 Both interpretations strain the reader's credulity, 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 significant 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, is so strong that few c r i t i c s resist the temptation. Schneidau succumbs when he seals his interpretation by concluding that "the Nameless One's name, at last, i s Joyce." A slightly less imprudent naming is that of Richard Ellmann, who conceives of the "unnamed" narrator as a modern incarnation of Thersites, the mean-spirited character of Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida. Ellmann's reading is more acceptable because i t i s more literary, but i t s t i l l ignores the fact that "I," s t r i c t l y speaking, is not unnamed at a l l . Roland Barthes contends that: In the story (and in many conversations), I_ is no longer a pronoun, but a name, the best of names: to say J_ is inevitably to attribute signifieds 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 signify oneself as an object with a destiny, to give a meaning time. On this level, J_ . . . is therefore a character. Many readers have noted that "Cyclops" is largely about mistaken identity: Joe Hynes mistakes Geraghty for Herzog's creditor; Alf Bergan mistakes someone else for Paddy Dignam; Bob Doran misnames Paddy Dignam as ^Herbert Schneidau, "One Eye and Two Levels: On Joyce's 'Cyclops,'" JJQ, 16 (Winter 1978), p.97. 12 Schneidau, p. 103. 1 3Roland Barthes, S/Z, trans. Richard Miller (New York: H i l l & Wang, 1974), p. 68. - 90 -Willy. Barthes' correct assertion that I_ pulls in the direction of a r e a l i s t i c view of character should be carefully weighed in light of this endemic mistaking of identity. In fact, the pull of the J- toward reality, troubled as i t is by the textual barriers already discussed, is at least balanced i f not overpowered by the counterpull back into the literary realm exerted by the Homeric parallel, specifically by the relentless allusions and word-plays on the narratorial "I" and the Cyclopean eye. The Homeric parrallel encourages the reader to recognize the essential literariness of the narrator, and to read him as a style instead of as a man. "I's" point of view is that of the Cyclops' eye, an impersonal eye which, as we have mentioned, has usurped the hero's power to narrate. Implied in this mean, myopic point of view is a distortion of reality that nonetheless constitutes reality for the reader. As part of the fic t i o n a l world of Dublin, Bloom is not described by this eye as much as he is created by i t : a character i s not a man as much as i t is a style. This view of the role of the "I" narration is confirmed and high-lighted by the tertiary narration, which takes the form of thirty-three interruptions of the "I" narrator's secondary narration. The hierarchy implied in this schema of primary, secondary and tertiary narration is misleading, both because the various levels are not completely separate from one another and because both the secondary and tertiary level 1*+ levels are equally real from the reader's perspective. The secondary narration begins the chapter—"I was just passing the time of day with old In her art i c l e , "Funfersum: Dialogue as Metafictional Technique in 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 distinction between what she calls the "real" and "unreal" narrative strands. - 91 -T r o y " — b u t the t e r t i a r y l e v e l sometimes takes the lead, as when i t foreshadows Bloom's imminent a r r i v a l with "Who comes through Michan's land, bedight i n sable armour?" (U, pp. 290, 296). In addition, the t e r t i a r y n a rration closes the chapter, making i t impossible to say that one l e v e l i s "about" the other. Since each of these two l e v e l s accounts for about half of the chapter, the reader i s j u s t i f i e d i n expressing doubt as to exactly what constitutes the action of the chapter. Perhaps a l l we can say with assurance i s that we are dealing with the narrative of a n a r r a t i v e , which suggests that the subject of the discourse i s the discourse i t s e l f , and that the reader's attention i s being drawn to a closer look at the language of character. One thing 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 be a t t r i b u t e d to j i narrator without doing considerable i n j u s t i c e to the text; they are impersonal to a degree that defies any attempt to locate an ego or personality behind them. To argue, as Ellmann does, that the n a r r a t o r i a l instrusions represent a single i n d i v i d u a l voice, be i t that of Pangloss or not, i s erroneous. 1 5 To say that the "voice" of "They believe i n rod, the scourger almighty, creator of h e l l upon earth and i n Jacky Tar, the son of a gun" emanates from the same narrator as "For nonperishable goods bought of Moses Herzog, of 13 Saint Kevin's parade, Wood quay ward, merchant, hereinafter c a l l e d the vendor," i s to ignore that the only r e a l speakers are the styles themselves, mock-biblical and contractual r e s p e c t i v e l y (U, pp.327, 291). Stuart G i l b e r t ' s analysis i s preferable: 1 5 R i c h a r d Ellmann, Ulyssess 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 Marylin French's i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of "Cyclops"; see Karen Lawrence, The Odyssey of  Style i n Ulysses (Princeton, N.J.: PUP, 1981), p. 102. - 92 -At i n t e r v a l s the narration i s taken out of the mouth of the nondescript vulgarian and becomes mock-heroic, Gargantuan, pseudo-scientific or antiquarian i n s t y l e . 1 6 The exact terms used to describe the various l e v e l s of narration are l e s s important than an understanding that when these narrations speak, the voice of narration speaks. In i n t e r r u p t i n g each other, the various l e v e l s or styles of narration c a l l attention to the way they swallow the styles and characters of other l e v e l s , to the way they play with Bloom, pick him up l i k e a puppet and carry him into word-worlds that both d i s t o r t and create h i s "personality," and give him a s i g n i f i c a n c e r a d i c a l l y d i f f e r e n t from that he has i n Barney Kiernan's bar. The Bloom the narrator sees "sloping around by P i l l lane and Greek street with his cod's eye counting up a l l the guts of the f i s h " i s not the Bloom "Who comes through Michan's land, bedight i n sable armour? 0'Bloom, the son of Rory: i t i s he. Impervious to fear i s Rory's son: he of the prudent soul" (U_, p. 296). In the uncharitable eye of " I , " Bloom i s a pathetic skulking figure of a man; i n the language of I r i s h myth, he i s a parody of the I r i s h hero whose prudence points to his fabled descendence from the warrior-gods of Troy. Each time Bloom i s picked up by a new s t y l e he i s e f f e c t i v e l y renamed or re-created. In the language of the medical report, Poldy becomes "the distinguished s c i e n t i s t Herr Professor Luitpold Blumenduft [who] tendered medical evidence to the e f f e c t that the instantaneous fracture of the c e r v i c a l vertebrae . . ." (U, p. 303). At the end of the chapter, Bloom, "old sheepsface," i s raised from the common flo c k to the divine height of b i b l i c a l prose as E l i j a h . . . only to be subsequently 1 6 G i l b e r t , p, 274. - 93 -cast out, a fallen angel: When, lo, 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 in the glory of the brightness . . . . And they beheld Him even Him, ben Bloom Elijah, amid clouds of angels ascend to the glory of the brightness at an angle of fortyfive degrees over Donohoe's in L i t t l e Green Street like a shot off a shovel. (U, p. 343) The final phrase of the chapter, "like a shot off 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 style, and suggesting that "I" is a style like a l l the others. In the course of his journey from style to style, the language that is Bloom becomes progressively detached from the reality of Barney Kiernan's and becomes the plaything of the discourse. His f u l l emancipation as a literary character, however, w i l l not occur until after he travels through "Circe," in which the character-person is formally put on t r i a l . 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 in "Oxen of the Sun", where styles overpower factual events. According to Kenner, "Nothing, in '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 real because i t has appeared before and reappears after "Circe." Likewise, Stephen's money, entrusted to Bloom at Zoe's, becomes real when Bloom returns i t to him in "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 -tautological: they corroborate one fiction with another fi c t i o n . And Joyce seems to delight in showing that—even in the most objective fiction—two l i e s do not make a truth. By far the greater part of "Circe" has a much more tenuous relation to the reality of Dublin; most of what happens is never verified elsewhere in the novel. Put another way, the reader often cannot see through the language of "Circe" to any referent. Nowhere is this more true than in regard to the language of character. 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 . " 1 8 Like the hell of Dante, Joyce's hell is d i f f i c u l t to escape. 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 light of day by forcing them to conform to the standards of realism. One such attempt is 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, in 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 glorifications, a l l hallucinatory, a l l taking place in Bloom's mind. Brophy's view, as the allusions to the age, profession and nationality 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 in some respects, this interpretation f a i l s to provide 1 8Kenner, p. 123. 1 9John Brophy, The Human Face (New York: Prentice Hall, 1946), p. 176. - 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 "hallucinatory." More important, no textual j u s t i f i c a t i o n exists for such a view. Kenner has shown that the vocabulary and memories of the 2 0 " h a l l u c i n a t i o n s " could not be a l l Bloom's. Thus, to regard the play within the f i c t i o n of Ulysses 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 less sense than to regard the play-within-the-play i n Hamlet as Hamlet's dream. Like 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 view may provide for i n t e r e s t i n g speculation. In the context, of Ulysses, however, i t i s too much the reaction of a g u i l t y reader who, l i k e the King i n Hamlet, confronted with a play that confuses the boundary of r e a l i t y and f i c t i o n , r e c o i l s and c r i e s "Give me some l i g h t . " If we wish to avoid t h i s embarrassing v i o l a t i o n of convention, we may agree with Kenner that the language of "Circe" obeys a more elusive set of p r i n c i p l e s : A l l we can safely say of t h e i r d e t a i l i s that i t tends to come from e a r l i e r i n the book, a sort of c o l l e c t i v e vocabulary out of which, i t seems, anything at a l l can now be composed. As one aspect of t h i s b r i l l i a n t l y obscure composition, Bloom i s i d e n t i f i e d e x p l i c i t l y as a l i t e r a r y character. Each time we read "BLOOM:" we know that the l i t e r a r y character of that name w i l l come to l i f e i n the works the text assigns i t to speak. For the reader of "Circe" (who has no other choice i n the matter, since the language of the text e x i s t s i n such an ambiguous r e l a t i o n to any imagined extra-textual r e a l i t y ) , Bloom i s these words: l i t e r a r y character i s the words he, she or i t appears to speak—but not j u s t these. 2 0 Kenner, pp. 120-121. 2 1Kenner, pp. 123. - 96 -The process of character-creation, the assigning 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 least t r a d i t i o n a l l y , by the playwright or author who assigns him his role and determines how the other characters w i l l speak of him. In t h i s sense, Ulysses Is not fundamentally d i f f e r e n t from Middlemarch i n which E l i o t uses Mrs. Gadwallader and others as mediums for gossip about W i l l . 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 appear to name the character d i r e c t l y . In M o l l Flanders, Middlemarch and Ulysses, the weight of these d i f f e r e n t ways of naming the character varies according to the r e l a t i v e authority the reader attaches to them, whence the urgent - attempts on the part 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 "truth-content." Thus, W i l l Ladislaw's rumoured a f f a i r with Rosamond, and Bloom's alleged niggardly unwillingness to share the money he i s thought to have won on Throwaway, are seen by the reader as untrue, and therefore as unconstitutive of character. But as we have seen i n r e l a t i o n to Middlemarch, and as "Circe" makes abundantly c l e a r , a l l such naming creates character. What Bloom describes as the "midsummer madness" of "Circe" 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 that the creative power of a l l words i s equal. Perhaps nowhere i s the suspension of the t r a d i t i o n a l convention of h i e r a r c h i c a l language so obvious as i n the stage d i r e c t i o n s . The authority of t h i s form of language i s generally beyond doubt; what i t says i n the context of the play i s held to be true. If the stage d i r e c t i o n says, "Enter Hamlet wearing black," then Hamlet w i l l enter wearing black; i n drama, the playwright i n h e r i t s Circe's a b i l i t y to transform and metamorphose. But i n "Circe," even t h i s convention i s upset when the words of the characters determine what the stage di r e c t i o n s w i l l - 97 -be: language, not the playwright, possesses the divine power to create and to transform. Typical of this reversal is 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 is his announcement of the new Bloomusalem: BLOOM: My beloved subjects, a new era is about to dawn. I, Bloom, t e l l you verily i t is even now at hand. Yea, on the word of a Bloom, ye shall ere long enter into the golden city which is to be, the new Bloomusalem in 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. It i s a colossal  edifice, with crystal roof, built i n the shape of a huge pork  kidney.) (U, p. 459) Bloom's transformations occur in 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 pelisse, bigheaded, with a caul of  dark hair, fixes big eyes on her fl 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 lisping) One two tlee: 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  vestslips, narrow-shouldered, in brown Alpine hat, wearing - 98 -gent's s t e r l i n g s i l v e r waterbury keyless watch and double  curb Albert with seal attached, one side of him coated with  s t i f f e n i n g mud) (U, p, 431) And when "DR DIXON" says that Professor Bloom, "a f i n i s h e d example of the new womanly man . . . i s about to have a baby," the prognosis immediately becomes r e a l i t y : BLOOM: 0, I so want to be a mother. MRS TH0RT0N: (In nursetender's gown) Embrace me t i g h t , dear. Y o u ' l l be soon over i t . Tight, dear. (Bloom embraces her t i g h t l y and bears eight male yellow and  white children.) (U. p. 465) By the end of "Circe," the c l u s t e r of signs that equals Bloom has been arranged i n a series of wild configurations. Bloom i s a man, a boy, a baby, a woman. He i s a v a r i e t y of h i s t o r i c a l personages, including C h r i s t ; he walks through walls and hangs from a ledge by his e y e l i d s . His wardrobe i s protean. His ears are sometimes human, sometimes those of an ass. In short, Bloom i s a c l u s t e r of signs which does not respect the l i m i t s of any r e a l i t y external to the text. Like THE SOAP, THE KISSES and THE BUCKLES, Bloom i s a character created by naming. Like any other word of the text, "Bloom" can undergo many p l a y f u l tranformations without l o s i n g i t s exchange value. This i s established from the moment Bloom sets foot i n nighttown: On the farther side under the railway bridge Bloom appears flushed, panting, cramming bread and chocolate into a side pocket. From G i l l e n ' s hairdresser's window a composite p o r t r a i t shows him gallant Nelson's image. A concave mirror at the side presents to him lovelorn longlost lugubru Booloohoom. Grave Gladstone sees him l e v e l , Bloom for Bloom. He passes, struck by the stare of truculent Wellington but i n the convex mirror g r i n unstruck the bonham eyes and fatchuck cheekchops of Jolly p o l d y the r i x d i x doldy. (U, p. 428) - 99 -The language in "Circe" is a mirror—of sorts. The images i t presents, however, do not reflect reality as much as they create i t . Once character is freed of the task of reflecting reality outside of i t s e l f , i t s linguistic nature becomes the primary reality: 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, is a character that reveals i t s linguistic nature. The character-character is not an easy fellow to live with, and i t is with a sign of r e l i e f that most readers witness Bloom's re-emergence in 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 traditional relation with reality. No such luck. As in "Cyclops" and "Circe," the language of "Eumaeus" s t i l l constitutes the primary reality. Kenner nicely expresses this predominance of language over reality when he writes: In the latter half of Ulysses styles are like places: ports of c a l l , with their special sounds and atmospheres and customs, in which the journeying hero lingers. With the return of apparent realism comes the re-emergence of the Homeric parallel. The narration of "Eumaeus" refers to Bloom as "our hero," and reminds the reader that the hero's journey is not yet accomplished: "The best plan clearly being to clear out, the remainder being plain sailing, he [Bloom] beckoned, while prudently pocketing the photo" (U_, p. 579). And later, "seeing that the ruse worked and the coast was clear, they [Stephen and Bloom] lef t the shelter or shanty together" 2 2Kenner, p.134. - 100 -(U_, p. 580). Both heroes cross seas on t h e i r homeward journeys. The sea of Odysseus i s the winedark sea of ships; the sea of Bloom i s the sea of language. Each has i t s own p e r i l s . The sea of "Eumaeus" i s plagued with problems of reference, p a r t i c u l a r l y i n the objective, subjective and possessive cases of the pronoun. Expressions l i k e "His (Stephen's) mind"; "her (the lady's) eyes"; "His hat ( P a r n e l l ' s ) " ; and "he purposed (Bloom d i d ) " are interspersed throughout the chapter (U, pp. 533, 573, 585). These hints that the language i s not capturing the r e a l i t y of Bloom's progress down Dublin streets are confirmed p r e c i s e l y at that point when i t appears to flaunt decorum to give us the r e a l i t y of a horse's defecation: The horse, having reached the end of his tether, so to speak, halted, and rearing high a proud feathering t a i l , added his 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) This imprecision of referent and gender threatens Bloom's re-acquired status as character-person. By the end of the chapter, Stephen and Bloom, making t h e i r way slowly home, begin to move once more out of the range of r e a l i s t i c language. For i t s part, the language abandons the two men supposedly walking toward the bridge and becomes p l a y f u l l y s e l f - r e f l e x i v e : The d r i v e r never said 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 his lowbacked car, both black—one f u l l , one lean—walk towards the railway bridge, to be married by Father Maher. As they walked, they at times stopped and walked again, continuing t h e i r tgte a te~te (which of course he was u t t e r l y out o f ) , about sir e n s , enemies of man's reason, mingled with a number of other topics of the same category, usurpers, h i s t o r i c a l cases of the kind while the man i n the sweeper car or you might as well c a l l i t i n the sleeper car who i n any case couldn't - 101 -possibly hear because they were too far simply sat in his seat near the end of lower Gardiner street and looked after  their lowbacked car. (U, p. 586) The action of the characters moving in Dublin is replaced by the action of the language which calls i t s e l f into question by turning inward 23 and referring back to an earlier allusion to an Irish 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 re 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 is that the closer Bloom moves to the end of his odyssey, the more the apparent objectivity of the language increases, the more he disappears as a character-person. This state of affairs 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 clearly he disappears as a character-person replete with idiosyncratic personality, leaving behind only the words that create instead of describe him. Bloom's essentially literary nature is revealed once again through the Homeric parallel when he arrives outside his home and realizes that he has forgotten his key. The narration informs the reader that Bloom is faced with the following alternatives. "To enter or not to enter, To knock or not to knock." He is faced here with three different roles: 1) he can, like Hamlet, agonize and temporize over his decision; 2) he can play the 23 Don Gifford, with Robert J. Seidman, Notes for Joyce: An  Annotation of James Joyce's Ulysses (New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1974), p. 459. - 102 -role 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 parallel functions to suspend the conventions of realism and replace them with the literary convention of the Odyssey. Bloom's "decision" is 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 lighting 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 solid timber angle where, an infinitesimal but sensible fraction of a second later, a painful sensation was located in consequence of antecedent sensations transmitted and registered. (U, p. 626) The cold factuality of this language would impress even Thomas Gradgrind: i t sends the character-person into the space of the literary universe. By the time Bloom enters the bed, the true place of Odysseus' homecoming, he is ready to assume the form of a depersonalized segment, of - 103 -note only for i t s r e l a t i o n to the equator: In what d i r e c t i o n s did l i s t e n e r and narrator l i e ? L i s t e n e r , S.E. by E.; Narrator, N.W. by W.: on the 53rd p a r a l l e l of l a t i t u d e , N. and 6th meridian of longitude, W.: at an angle of 45° to the t e r r e s t r i a l equator. (U_, p. 657) The inaccuracy of the geographical 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 of many objective, apparently accurate descriptions of r e a l i t y i n 24 "Ithaca." These, combined with the dizzying d e s c r i p t i o n of the Blooms "both c a r r i e d westward . . . by the proper perpetual motion of the earth" (the earth a c t u a l l y rotates eastward), reinforce at the end what has been i m p l i c i t from the beginning: the language of the text e x i s t s f i r s t and foremost i n r e l a t i o n to the rest of the l i t e r a r y universe. The clo s i n g questions and answers of the chapter drive this point home with conviction. With the question "In what posture?" we move away from the r e a l i s t i c bed outward to a mythological view of Molly as a fusion of Greek and Roman earth goddesses (Gaea and Te l l u s Mater r e s p e c t i v e l y ) , and a view of Bloom as an image of himself. Both of these perspectives confound notions of re a l time, duration and place. Under the influence of t h i s language, Bloom becomes a unity of opposites, "the childman weary, the manchild i n the womb." The response does s t i l l bear a metaphorical or symbolic r e l a t i o n to r e a l i t y , i n that Bloom could indeed be weary because of hi s trav e l s through Dublin. The next set of questions and answers may be construed as corroboration of t h i s reading: Womb? Weary? He r e s t s . He has t r a v e l l e d . (U, p. 658) 2 l + G i f f o r d , p. 494. - 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 in travel, i s met with a response that turns i t s back on Dublin and sails off on a voyage of rhyme: Sinbad the Sailor and Tinbad the Tailor and Jinbad the Jailer and Whinbad the Whaler and Ninbad the Nailer and Finbad the Failer and Binbad the Bailer and Pinbad the Pailer and Minbad the Mailer and Hinbad the Hailer and Rinbad the Railer and Dinbad the Kailer and Vinbad the Quailer and Linbad the Yailer and Xindbad the Phthailer. (U, p. 658) This whimsical response has l i t t l e to do with any reality 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 is potentially limitless, but the author, who no doubt feels that his reader has borne enough hardship, comes to the rescue. We can almost hear him "pull the plug" on his homecoming sailor with the f i n a l "Xinbad the Phthailer" (emphasis mine). The idea that Bloom has been travelling 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 restrictions of time and place: Going to a dark bed there was a square round Sinbad the Sailer 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, singular/plural, dark/bright; and of the historical but now extinct bird of the north, the auk, with the mythical Egyptian bird, the r o c — a l l of these contribute to produce a simultaneous contraction and expansion, specification and universalization, of - 1 0 5 -language. With language now at center stage, Bloom's journey is almost at an end. It is completed precisely at that moment when the last vestige of Bloom's disguise as a character-person is cast off and his true identity as a literary character is fi n a l l y revealed. Where is this character? Where? Bloom's odyssey, like that of Odysseus, ends when the wandering hero returns to his home. Odysseus' home is the island of Ithaca. Bloom's is a dot of ink on the page. In answer to the last question of the catechism of "Ithaca," Joyce fi n a l l y t e l l s the truth about Molldopeloob: "Bloom" is a linguistic sign, a "character." This revelation has been unfolding from the beginning of Bloom's odyssey in "Calypso" where allusions to the Homeric parallel f i r s t shift attention from his wanderings as a character-person through the streets of Dublin to his voyage as a character-agent whose words and actions are partially determined relative to the literary realm. This shift away from the r e a l i s t i c view of character is accentuated in "Cyclops" where Joyce uses the Homeric parallel to show that the "I" of the character-person, like the "eye" of the Cyclops, i s a point-of-view, a style. Through such reference to the literary 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 in "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 the reader that Bloom's voyage is through the galaxy of 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 be described as a series of t r i a l s of character. . . . 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 figuratively—of the ending of "Ithaca" because i t insists on identifying 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 il 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 styles, and not essences beyond or behind them. If the styles in the latter 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 f e r t i l i t y , i t i s surely at or in the final point of his odyssey, the point in and from which Leopold blooms to cook his delectable calf-kidneys in "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 is i t Moll? . . . "the one from Flanders a whore always shoplifting 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 (New Jersey: Rutgers Univ. Press, 1978), pp. 16, 128. - 107 -face i s i n f i n i t e l y more f e r t i l e than that of the character-person. His i s the face of character: the face of Nobody. - 108 -CONCLUSION Forster's r e a l i s t i c view of character cannot explain, l e t alone appreciate, the unequivocal appearance i n Ulysses of the language that i s Bloom. Nor can i t explain the subtle disappearance i n Moll Flanders of the language that i s Mo l l . The reason for both f a i l u r e s i s that, by naively i d e n t i f y i n g n o v e l i s t i c character with human personality, the r e a l i s t i c view of character ignores the l i n g u i s t i c nature of character altogether. But character is_ a kind of language. As such, i t exists r e l a t i v e to the world and to the l i t e r a r y realm; i t i s written and read r e l a t i v e to 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 other. Only by approaching character with t h i s r e a l i s t i c view of discourse can one hope to do equal j u s t i c e to Moll Flanders, W i l l Ladislaw and Leopold Bloom. A l l three are conventional configurations of language p a r t i a l l y created by the novel's subversive appetite for incorporating and undermining t r a d i t i o n a l l i t e r a r y conventions, though each manifests t h i s fact to d i f f e r i n g degrees depending on the a r t i s t i c intentions of i t s author. In Moll Flanders, Defoe uses the language of character to create an autonomous character-person. He highlights the r e l a t i o n of character to the world by creating the i l l u s i o n that i t describes a r e a l woman l i v i n g i n the world of eighteenth-century England. He pretends that Moll enjoys the freedom of speech required for the t e l l i n g of her own story. In order to strengthen the i l l u s i o n of Moll's personhood and the transparence of the language that makes i t possible, Defoe incorporates and undermines c e r t a i n elements of picaresque f i c t i o n i n such a way as to underplay Moll's debt to - 109 -the literary realm, to divert the reader's attention from the fact that she is written at a l l . Thus, Moll's remarkable autonomy as a character-person is due to Defoe's success in disguising the fact that she is partially created by the undermining of picaresque literary conventions and is therefore a literary convention herself, albeit a novel one. Eliot's use of Will Ladislaw as her agent in Middlemarch reduces his autonomy as a character-person and makes i t abundantly clear that he is not free to t e l l his own story. By using him as a key figure in her conspicuously sustained upsetting of romance conventions, Eliot shifts the reader's attention from the i l l u s i o n that Will Is a person living in nineteenth-century provincial England to the fact that he is a literary construct, a mixed "cluster of signs" created partially by the very romance conventions he is used to undermine. In contrast to Defoe's upsetting of picaresque conventions in Moll Flanders, Eliot's undermining of romance conventions in Middlemarch illuminates the relation of character to the literary realm and thus initiates 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 literary 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 literary nature and thus keeping the language of character transparent. In Ulysses, Joyce definitively upsets the conventions of the character-person in order to make the language of character appear as an autonomous entity worthy of thematic concern. Following Eliot's lead in Middlemarch, he sets about accomplishing his goal by shifting 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 in the footsteps of Homer's Odysseus. Having made i t clear that Bloom is created in 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, like Moll, Bloom is capable of telling the story of his l i f e . To this end, he uses the Homeric parallel of the "eye" of the Cyclops to draw the "I" of the character-person into the literary realm and to expose i t as just another point-of-view, just another style. Once this crucial "I" of the character-person is estabished as a name like 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 and the appearance of the language of character. If the three novels studied here are any indication, a character's position between or at these extremes is i t s e l f entirely a matter of convention. Conventions of character in the novel may be expected to change from historical period to historical period, from cultural context to cultural context, from novel to novel and, as Bloom's odyssey makes clear, from page to page within a given novel. Such change is virtually guaranteed by the novel's appetite for undermining traditional literary conventions of any kind. This upsetting of convention can function to underplay what character owes to literature 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 literary - I l l -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. By appearing in al l its opaque glory, the language of character has the power to help us avoid getting "our thoughts entangled" in Forster's metaphorical assertion that a character is a person. Character itself can remind us that character is, after a l l , language. It is an old idea, but one that must forever be made novel. - 112 -Bib l iography Primary Sources Defoe, Daniel. Moll Flanders. Oxford: OUP, 1981. El i o t , George. Middlemarch. Boston: Houghton M i f f l i n Company, 1956. Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. E. V. Rieu. Middlesex: Penguin, 1946. Joyce, James. Ulysses. Middlesex: Penguin/Bodley Head, 1960. Secondary Sources Abrams, M. H. A Glossary of Literary Terms. 3rd ed. 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Rpt. in Middlemarch: A Selection of C r i t i c a l Essays. Ed. P. Swinden. London: MacMillan Press, 1972, pp. 190-206. Hayman, David. "Two Eyes at Two Levels: A Response to Herbert Schneidau on Joyce's 'Cyclops'". JJQ, 16 (Winter, 1978), pp. 105-109. Ingarden, Roman. "Psychologism and Psychology in Literary Scholarship." New Literary History, Vol. V, No. 2 (Winter 1974), pp. 213-23. James, Henry. "The Art of Fiction." In Specimens of Modern English Literary Criticism. Ed. William T. Brewster. New York: MacMillan & Co., 1907, pp. 237-56. . Rev. of Middlemarch by George E l i o t . The Galaxy, March 1873. Rpt. in George E l i o t : The C r i t i c a l Heritage. Ed. David Carroll. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1971, pp. 353-359. - 115 -Kenner, Hugh. Ulysses. London: Gordon Allen & Unwin, 1980. Kettle, Arnold. An Introduction to the English Novel. 2 vols. London, 1951; rpt. New York: Harper and Row, 1968. . "In Defense of Moll Flanders." In Of Books and Humankind. 1964. 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