This paper explores the mythical basis, nationalist affiliations and religious, historical past in James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses. These two selected novels carry different mythical narratives and sensibilities. This paper discusses a journey where time and space are transcended, which is called a “mythic journey”. Issues related to culture, religion and their association with ideological grounds are very prominent. Elements of religious past and feelings attached to these grounds are very vibrant. The author shares his keen observation and deep experience with nationalist affiliations and their impact. This research is qualitative in nature. For better conceptual understanding, documentaries and works of Joseph Campbell and theories presented by Allan Watts: especially his book Myth and Rituals in Christianity, support this research as a major theoretical framework. This research is helpful to know about the historical past and the mythical grounds of that time.
Myths, Transformation, Religion, Nationality, Rituals, Understanding
Mythologies come from the hidden depths of the human imagination in the form of symbols and find expression through dreams, revelations, etc., as a testament of the everlasting human will to exhaust the limits of possibility. Furthermore, any symbol has to be contemplated not on the literal meaning it gives, but the metaphor it conveys and through the metaphor, the attempt a myth make to make the mind access the inner reaches of existence and the various experiences, which make an individual realize the substance of existence. Creation is prior to the meaning human beings have given it, and only after coming in experience with creation could human beings create some sort of meaning of the whole of creation. Similarly, myths spring up from the depths of the human mind quite spontaneously, and then meaning is searched for it and given to it after human beings come in contact with myths. However, the question to be speculated upon is upon what basis a meaning is given to a myth. The basis, which this study would like to assume, is the individual’s experience of life which gives myths a meaning. Carl Jung argues that within dreams, like myths, are hidden symbols, which convey the human archetypes consisting of meaning which is beyond a human being’s immediate identification of reality and sensual perception. An individual’s thought finds expression through the culture in which he/she belongs to and, as a result, the words may not be enough, or the symbol in its appearance may not be enough to discover the essential meaning of a myth. In order for the human intellect to have an exposition of the depths of what a myth conveys, the metaphors present in a myth and the indication which exist behind the material words and symbols present in a myth needs to be studied and looked into. Over centuries human beings have felt a deep inner obligation to express what they perceive life to be, the experiences they have had participating within the fields of creation they have sought to express through various means, from stone carvings to today’s modern literature and paintings and music. It is this sense of obligation, which I think to offer human beings the capability to convey their experiences of life through symbols, and the rich metaphor it conveys, despite their “knowing” from where and how these symbols spring forth and how they take shape, as Alan Watts writes in his book Myth and Rituals in Christianity, “…left to itself, imagination takes on a structure in the same manner as the body and the brain” (Watts, 1960, p.69). On the other hand, in the very same book a little earlier, Watts states: “In one sense metaphysical knowledge is the ground of what every man knows-what he knows before anything else.” (Watts, 1960, p.59-60).
As a result, the sine qua non cannot be given a meaning intellectually only through mere speculation and contemplation; it has to be lived and experienced in the “here and now”, which is outside and separate from future and past. In this sense, as mentioned before, the mythic journey is a quest beyond meaning. It is a quest, which consists of meaning, but that meaning comes from experience, not from any intellectual comprehension of what the journey is. James Joyce wrote Ulysses, which comprises of a man’s one-day journey through Dublin, and this journey he has constructed in an equivalent manner with the journey of Homer’s Odysseus, who travelled for 20 years throughout many parts of the globe. However, the journey is not equivalent in terms of quantity as one journey is made in 24 hours and another in 20 long years. The journey is similar qualitatively as both Bloom and Odysseus participate in a journey that makes them aware of the profound truths of existence. The journey present in Joyce’s Ulysses makes Bloom a father to a lost vagrant boy striving to become an artist. Bloom teaches Stephen love which he sees all men of Ireland lacks, and such profound truths which Bloom himself realizes and passes on to another boy makes their relation a father-son relation, just like Odysseus’s relation with his son Telemachus. The journey which Bloom takes, or which Stephen Dedalus takes in both Ulysses and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, metamorphoses itself into a mythic journey as the individual undertaking the journey becomes more aware of aspects of their own existence and gains momentary access to certain things, which are beyond their level of recognition. As this comes to pass through the gradual progression of the individual, the journey takes itself into a dimension beyond time and space.
In the Kena Upanishad, quoted from Joseph Campbell’s book Inner Reaches of Outer Space, it is written:
“That [which is beyond every name and form] is comprehended only by
the one with no comprehension of it: anyone comprehending knows it
not. Unknown to the knowledge, it is to the unknowing known.”
It can be assumed that it is precisely this, which Stephen thinks about, in the second chapter of Ulysses when he sits near Sandymount Beach. Stephen thinks to himself about the Nebeneinander, which Joseph Campbell states in his book Creative Mythology, “(field of things beside each other), namely Space” (Creative Mythology 339) and Nacheinander “(after each other), Time” (Creative Mythology 339).
The journey in James Joyce’s novels turns into a mythic journey as the individuals transcend their “everydayness”, culture, religion, social norms and even transforms themselves while undertaking the journey. The aforementioned example is given just to illustrate how both the “experiencer” and the “experience”, the individuals and the journey of which they are a part of; essentially, their life becomes a part of something which is grander, larger than the limited human comprehension of existence, are involved. Stephen’s own self-inquiry leads him to Bloom, and it is Bloom’s own urge to seek someone to whom he can pass on his understanding of kindness and love, which makes him come to Stephen. Joyce treats the everyday truths of life, the metaphysical speculations of Stephen and Bloom is seeking the presence of love and compassion in Ireland, not as ideas but as a reality of experience. This reality of the experience of the characters is what makes them undertake the mythic journey, and whether it is Odysseus, Elijah, Christ, Penelope or Shakespeare, prime characters of Joyce become these figures in the light of their thoughts emerging from the depths of their unconscious, which is distinct from the conscious reality of human beings and is to the conscious mind the “unknowing known”.
Representational Value of Myths
Myth can be defined as a complex presentation of stories, which demonstrates, through the symbols and metaphors, the inner meaning of the human life and the universe which human beings are a part of Mythic journey, therefore, can be said, in accordance with the aesthetics of James Joyce, a journey that reveals to an individual the meaning of his inner life. To the conscious mind, these oftentimes seem to be ephemeral, a momentary glimpse into the unconscious mind about the “truths” of existence, which reveals and before one can touch it with his/her conscious minds it, disappears. These events arrive out of the depths of the unconscious mind and reveal some truth which one cannot get hold of by his/her normal range of perception. As Carl Jung, in a chapter of his book Approaching the Unconcious, writes, “A sense of wider meaning to one’s existence is what raises a man beyond getting and spending” (Jung, 1997). These events, which are profound in their revelation of the realizations about the truths of one’s own being, is beyond mere “getting and spending”, beyond the daily transactions of life and therefore, the truths which these events provide cannot be comprehended by the intellect. An intuitive understanding is required. Zafor quotes Samuel Taylor Coleridge in his Biographia Literaria writes:
“The Primary imagination, I hold to be the living power and prime
agent of all human perception, and as a repetition in the finite mind
of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I AM.” (Zafor, 2012).
The infinite “I AM” reveals to human beings its eternal nature, the “primary imagination” which comes out of the unconscious, making a human being the prime agent, the perceiver of the whole world. When in the finite mind, the eternal act of creation arrives, or when the mind discovers the eternal act of creation, human beings become a part of something which is timeless. Joyce can be referred to as a great synthesizer who amalgamates the whole complex of man, both the pathological being of a 20th-century man and the indwelling being ever-present in all men throughout the ages, through myth. The mythic journey gives a sense of direction to James Joyce’s works, works that involve unrest of interpenetrated elements not graspable by the intellect immediately, but gradually opens up through multiple readings, and works, which does not finish but ends with a sense of an ending. As a result, this paper aims to explore the mythic dimension in James Joyce’s works.
· To highlight the effects of religion and national affiliations among the people in James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses.
· To present the mythical rudiments in the selected texts.
· To project the ideologies based on religious emotions and its mythical grounds of the past.
Q 1: How James Joyce has projected the mythical grounds linking with the historical religions and myths?
Q 2: How Ulysses and A Portrait of the Artist as Young Man have a clear representational value of present religious grounds and its mythical attachment of the past?
Two selected novels of James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses carry different mythical narratives and sensibilities. This paper discusses a journey where time and space are transcended, which is called a “mythic journey”. Issues related to culture, religion and their association with ideological grounds are very prominent. Elements of religious past and feelings attached to these grounds are very vibrant. The author shares his keen observation and deep experience with nationalist affiliations and their impact. This research is qualitative in nature. For better conceptual understanding, documentaries and works of Joseph Campbell and theories presented by Allan Watts: especially his book Myth and Rituals in Christianity, support this research as a major theoretical framework. This research is helpful to know about the historical past and the mythical grounds of that time.
Role of Myth in James Joyce’s Work
William Blake, in his poem Marriage of Heaven and Hell, wrote, “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite” (Blake’s Poetry and Designs 93). From this line of Blake, one thing can be deduced, that man’s door of perception are not cleansed, that human beings are limited within a determined line of the horizon as far as their perception is concerned. In addition to that, in the first chapter of the book The Inner Reaches of Outer Space written by the American mythologist Joseph Campbell, it is written that Immanuel Kant, in his book Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, asked the question that how is it possible that by being here in this space, we human beings can make a judgment of the space which is out there, or what is commonly known as outer space. The answer Kant provides to his own question is that, as stated by Joseph Campbell in his book:
“The laws of space are known to the mind because they are of the mind.
They are of a knowledge that is within us from birth, a knowledge a
priori, which is only brought to recollection by apparently external
circumstance.” (Campbell, 1986, p.1)
As a result, it can be seen that the doors of perception of man can only be cleansed if man dives inwards within himself if human beings go in search of themselves to attain a realization of that a priori knowledge which exists within a man and which, by its very nature, transcend the limitation of time and space. One of the fundamental aims of Joyce’s art has been to give expression to that primordial knowledge which in the Kantian language is of the mind or to express it in another language, which exists within the soul of the individual. One aim of this paper is to show that James Joyce was exactly such a writer whose art has attempted to speculate that knowledge of the inner self. Joyce makes his prime characters think in a way that, through a gradual understanding, they attain the ability to perceive the world and themselves as part of the world, which is not limited by the physical boundaries of time and space and the laws of cause and effect. Joyce opens up this dimension in his art through what is known as the mythic method. This method is easier to notice when reading any of Joyce’s works, such as Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man or Ulysses. The mythic method becomes very much vivid in Joyce’s works like the novels progress, and the function which this method fulfils is also very important, perhaps the most important one in Joyce’s art.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was published, after many various rejections in Ireland and England, in 1916 by an American publisher named W. B. Huebsch. This book is the first substantial novel written by James Joyce, and it is the first of the three major novels Joyce wrote in his lifetime, which includes Ulysses and Finnegan’s Wake. The protagonist of this novel is Stephen Dedalus, and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man deals with the spiritual awakening of his soul. Joyce, in this novel, mainly deals with Stephen Dedalus coming into recognition to his aesthetic sense, his inner call to pursue art and begin the journey of becoming an artist. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man essentially deals with an individual’s inner awakening of his artistic soul. The novel shows Stephen’s growing up as a child, his belief in Catholicism and Christianity, and gradual awakening of the consciousness of an artist which developed in him. The whole novel progresses towards the point where Stephen finally affirms his own life as an artist. As can be noticed in the novel, the journey of this affirmation of Stephen to finally embrace the life of an artist comes through many difficulties, rise and fall of his spirit. The rise and fall of Stephen Dedalus can be compared to the myth of Icarus and Dedalus. Both Icarus and Dedalus rise, with the help of the wing created by the great artificer Dedalus, and flying too close to the sun, both of them experience a devastating fall. In the novel Stephen, internally experience this rise and fall many times before the final redemption of his soul. Apart from this mythic parallel of Stephen Dedalus and the story of Icarus and Dedalus, another important aspect of Stephen’s journey as shown in this novel is “Et ignotas animum dimittit in artes”. This is a line from Ovid’s Metamorphosis; its English translation is, “And he turned his mind into unknown arts”. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man begins with this line. The whole novel progresses towards that point when Stephen finally puts his mind in the unknown arts, unknown in the sense that it is authentically creative and new. The “unknown arts” which Stephen puts himself into is to realize a new attitude towards life as an artist, developing a new sense of direction after numerous rise and fall. What A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man very vividly illustrates is the beginning of the journey of a modern artist. Stephen’s journey again continues in Ulysses, but in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the inner initiation to pursue a life of an artist is shown. This is the mythic journey, which is present in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, a young man’s gradual inner or spiritual development of the awareness and receptivity to experience and accept the vision with which an artist’s life is initiated. Being incarcerated in the prisons of Catholicism and nationalism of Ireland, Stephen Dedalus slowly overcomes guilt and fear of his nation, his family and religion. Again, it is important to mention that Joyce does not make Stephen a fully realized artist, Stephan’s mythic journey remains incomplete, many of his issues, for example, his guilt arising from leaving his mother, does not get resolved in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. In Ulysses, the dishevelled artist, which Stephen becomes after his return from Paris to Dublin, faces various problems which again hinder him from pursuing the life of an artist. However, the mythic journey of Stephen Dedalus, as shown in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, will be concentrated upon. The journey of Dedalus is essentially a journey of realization of undertaking a life of an artist. Furthermore, this journey also involves an understanding of the essentials through which an object can be referred to as a work of art. Stephen Dedalus’s formulation of the aesthetic element of art, or it can be phrased as the aesthetic reality of art, which remains essential for any art to be what is known as “art proper”, is very much significant in analyzing the novel and the journey of Dedalus. Finally, the decision to leave Ireland, to give an expression of the vision which Stephen sees through his epiphany and to “create the uncreated conscience of his race” marks the final leap of the journey which Dedalus undertakes.
Stephen’s first involvement in sexual activity marks the first triumph, and his experience of overpowering guilt marks the fall. Then, as the novel progresses, Stephen deeply involves Catholicism and recognizes the repressive side of Catholicism, repressing his individuality as well as Ireland. In addition to the previous point, Stephen also develops a sense of rising of his sexual desire, and finally, when he answers once again to his call of sexual desire, he becomes free from the chain of conventions of Catholicism in Ireland. However, this does not mark the second triumph of Stephen. Stephen becomes free of Catholicism and the conventions of his country, and after this event, Stephen experiences an epiphany, which marks a call in Stephen’s life, the call to pursue the life of an artist. It is from this point the second rising of Stephen actually takes place. When Stephen finally bids farewell to his life devoted to the Catholic Church, he remains in a state of disillusionment as there remains nothing to look forward to in Stephen’s life as offered to him by his society and Church. He was free, “unheeded” from the repressions of his society and “near the wildlife of heart”; however, he, Stephen, was alone. And then suddenly occurred before Stephen:
“A girl stood before him in midstream, alone and still, gazing out to sea. She
seemed like one whom magic had changed into the likeness of a strange and
beautiful seabird. Her long slender bare legs were delicate as a crane’s and
pure save where an emerald trail of seaweed had fashioned itself as a sign
upon the flesh. (Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, pp.131-133)
This vision of Stephen is an essential part of his mythic journey, and it can be said it is this vision, which contains the self-realization of Stephen’s life. It is this vision, which is the authentic vision of an artist, and Stephen now must give his life to his creative vision, a vision that has emerged from the deepest core of his being. This vision emerged very spontaneously, like a sudden clash of thunder, it physically lasted for a few minutes, but its impact will remain with Stephen for the remaining time of his life as an artist.
In Joyce’s Ulysses, each chapter of the book parallels with an event in Homer’s Odysseus, and each event’s significance relates to its mythological parallel. In addition to the parallels with Homer’s Odysseus, Joyce’s Ulysses is filled with various allusions of many things such as symbols of Christ and Elijah, the parallels with Dante’s Divine Comedy, etc. This paper will attempt to study some separate parts of Ulysses in order to highlight the mythic dimension present in Ulysses through the mythic journey. In this book, Stephen Dedalus is again seen. He is back from Paris, and he is shown as a poet who is in deep internal turmoil. Stephen is a poet whose mind is filled with ego, and he separates himself from others. He does not go to his father’s house, and as the novel starts, Stephen is shown again to have left with the intention of not coming back, or not being welcomed back, to the house in which he was living, the tower in Sandymouth Beach. As the novel progress, the readers meet Leopold Bloom, who is a man working in the advertisement sector. He is a husband and a father. Bloom is impotent, he is now an unsuccessful husband, and it began when his son, Rudy, died at the time of his birth. Molly Bloom, Leopold’s wife, involves herself in having an affair with other men, and in this experience, Bloom tries to accept as much hardship and pain as possible until the end of the novel Ulysses. However, Bloom is a man who, on the day when Joyce’s novel takes place, June 16th, 1904, goes out and travels throughout Dublin. This day is like any other day, a normal day, but also a day with immense significance. Leopold Bloom’s is in torment to have lost his son, and although this is not explicitly shown in the novel except for one or two parts, in the novel, and any reader of Ulysses will be able to identify this. As a result, although not aware from the beginning, as the journey progresses, Bloom slowly becomes conscious of the fact that Bloom is on the lookout for a son, and this son is Stephen Deadlus. Stephen, on the other hand, destitute and homeless, roams around from street to street, tries to present his complex intellect and his unique sensibility of art but fails as the people seem not to understand his theory. Stephen, due to this, becomes more filled with his ego. Now, as Bloom slowly realizes that his journey is a journey where is seeks a son, In Joyce’s Ulysses as Stephen seeks “what is the word known to all men”, which is love, and Bloom, through his compassion and empathy, makes Stephen respond to him and through that Stephen realizes what is known as love. Just as Stephen and Bloom remain unaware of the fact that they are respectively looking for a father and a son, so the journey of which they are a part of remains a very human journey, but along with it, their journey becomes a mythic journey transcending the everydayness of modern times representing the timeless and the instant nature of eternity. The role of myth in Joyce’s Ulysses is to provide an understanding of a spiritual journey of two human beings who find a new meaning in their lives through being aware of that which is the cause of their suffering and, in this process, overcoming their suffering. In this sense, the journey becomes a mythic journey as for both Bloom and Stephen; this journey reveals to them a state of their own being which can only be suggested and cannot be pinned down into exact words. The presence of this element is also enough for a human journey to transcend itself into something larger and grander. Myth, in contrast with history, only expresses, through symbols and signs, the significance of any event and not necessarily the event itself. The event as a part of history is not important; the event is important as far as the significance is needed to be conveyed. Due to this reason, myths are not bothered about time and place. As mentioned before, throughout Ulysses, both Bloom and Stephen become many characters, along with Odysseus and Telemachus, but in the end, it is only themselves meeting themselves through these various characters. The role, which these various characters play, is to represent the significance, the hidden splendor, of the state of being which Bloom and Stephen pass through. It can be said that these states of being can be lived, but they cannot be comprehended consciously. For example, in Bloom and Stephen’s father-son relationship, Bloom plays the role of father and Stephen the role of the son, which begins from the Circe chapter of Ulysses. Stephen completely surrenders to Bloom after coming to full contact with his fear, pain, and guilt through a profound experience related to his dead mother. Stephen unconsciously knows he is no more able to keep these feelings of guilt and torment within himself and faints in front of Bloom, thereby suggesting a total surrender to Bloom. However, none of them is aware of what they are doing; none of them is aware of the whole journey which they have taken to be summed up or culminated in their meeting point. The mythic journey is a journey that is not something separate from the human journey; it resides within the human journey but provides a new dimension to it, a new light through which the ever occurring human journey can be seen. It is due to this that Joyce uses everyday events, simple and regularly occurring, to show that which is timeless and eternal. There exists harmony in the way James Joyce synthesized myth with the everyday passing of events in Ulysses. James Joyce’s literary works as a whole can be summed up as a mythic journey. Excluding Finnegan’s Wake, from Portrait of the Artist to a Young Man to Ulysses, a clear journey can be seen, as Joseph Campbell writes:
‘Came now the storm’, we read, ‘that hist his heart. Immediately after
which, the alchemical process commenced of nigerdo and separation that
was to culminate in the night scene of the brothel.” (Campbell, 1991).
The mythic journey, the total transmutation of the human experience as it progresses, comes to a point which is named the Oxen of the Sun chapter of Ulysses. At one point, a loud sound of thunder is heard by Stephen, and his fear trodden being within becomes very afraid. Bloom observes this and tries to convince Stephen that the sound is just thunder, but to no avail, as Stephen goes to the brothel, perhaps his only place of escape from his own fear, and the night town brothel of Dublin has been labeled by Joyce as Circe. Circe is a chapter in Ulysses which Daniel Ferrer, in his essay, “Circe, Regret and Regression”, writes:
“Circe is indeed a mirror, but a distorting mirror, one of those disquieting
contraptions which introduce a difference in the very place where one is
seeking confirmation of one’s own identity.” (Ferrer, 1986).
Bloom is seen to visit his childhood memories, and in retrospection, goes through various evaluations about his own self. In addition to that, Bloom’s fears are faced by him alone, and he overcomes them alone. There is a constant shift from reality, as the narration of the book goes, with the internal reality of the characters, and there remains no dividing line. Bloom’s main part in this novel is to prepare himself as a guardian for Stephen, and before becoming that, Bloom needs to redeem himself from the burdens of the past. In his surrealistic masochistic fantasies with Bella Cohen, where Bloom becomes a passive woman being beaten and tortured, perhaps arising from the passivity of Bloom being impotent, Bloom converts his pain into a sort of 9pleasure. However, a couple of scenes later, when Stephen breaks the light with his ash plant, and Bella demands money for it; Bloom faces Bella and defends Stephen. It can be assumed that the reason behind Bloom thinking about these surrealistic fantasies is he is becoming ready to be Stephen’s father.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man essentially deals with an individual’s inner awakening of his artistic soul. Joyce, in Stephen’s theory of art, does not deal with an actual object of art but contemplates and theorizes the elements which must be present in a work of art. The formulation, which Joyce makes in this novel of the aesthetic element of art, or it, can be said as the aesthetic reality of art, which remains essential for any art to be what is known as “art proper”, has been precise and exact. A further question arises as to what is known as “art proper”. The “art proper” which Joyce has formulated, which includes the three aforementioned elements stated by Aquinas, is an image or object which an individual neither would want to move away from or would want to possess. Joyce’s “Art proper”, according to Joseph Campbell in his interview with Bill Moyers named Power of Myth, is holding the object, not rejecting the object nor having the desire to possess it.
This study explores the different situations in Ulysses and shows the presence of the mythic dimension in relation to the mythic journey present in Joyce’s novel. S. L. Goldberg writes about Bloom in his essay “Homer and the Nightmare of History” that
“Unlike Stephen, Bloom is not much aware of his own individual character,
nor is he concerned with establishing any special relationship between
himself and life. He is alive” (Goldberg, 1986)
To understand this quote is more or less to understand, according to this paper, Leopold Bloom and why Joyce makes him the protagonist of his novel. Bloom’s “common” journey is comparable to the grand journey of Odysseus precisely because Bloom is alive, and it is as common an expression as it is grand. In the Cyclops episode of Joyce’s Ulysses, where Bloom gets into a quarrel with a character named “The Citizen”, who is a violent nationalist. “The Citizen” is presented by Joyce as a hard Irish Nationalist, but with it, he is also a bigot. “The Citizen” accuses Bloom of belonging to a race that has contaminated Ireland and talks about various problems faced by Ireland caused by the Jew.
It can be noticed that there are many elements in Ulysses as well as in Portrait of the Artist of a Young Man, which upon appearance looks opposite, but Joyce put them side by side. The reason is two things are opposite only in appearance; in essence, both are the same. Joyce shows Stephen beginning his birth in Portrait as a body, but the novel ends with the birth of his soul. In Ulysses Bloom and Stephen, who are shown as two characters with two different mindsets, one scientific and practical, and another aesthetic and theological become one. Joyce designed his work upon the same principle. Bloom’s journey and Stephen’s journey all are both a common man and an artist’s journey, however within them is hidden the splendor and significance that lies in grand journey written in epics, such as the journey of Odysseus. In Dante’s Divine Comedy, when he sees the beatific vision of the Trinity in God’s heaven, in the third part of the Divine Comedy, Paradiso, he also sees behind him three concentric circles. Joseph Campbell, in his lecture Wings of Art, points this is the “Earthly” equivalent of the beatific vision of Dante, the earthly paradise of Joyce. Joyce presents not with the Trinity but with a male and a female. Campbell also mentions that this is a presentation of the sacred relation of the male and the female, the androgynous being, which symbolically represents the union of Bloom and Molly. Therefore Bloom’s arrival to Molly results in the beatific vision, the Earthly Paradise. After this, Bloom goes off to sleep, and the final mark of Bloom’s journey for the day has been reached.
In both Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses, a journey is present, and Joyce, to an extent, made it apparent that this journey is in a union of an individual with something which is large and grand but not separate from life. The journey, which Joyce’s characters make, is not a journey of will; Joyce’s characters do not deliberately undertake the journey. The journey is spontaneous, as spontaneous as the everyday passing of life, and it can be noticed that Joyce’s characters undertake a “journey” that is a part of their everyday living. For Joyce, life itself becomes a journey, life is becoming with the gradual realization of its significance, and the significance remains not in any destination but in the journey itself. The significance of life can only be realized by living life with total intensity. Stephen, in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, goes through an epiphany; however, this epiphany does not give him any knowledge. The epiphany only provides Stephen with wisdom and a resolution to move on further with his life to become an artist. Bloom in Ulysses creates a space and an offering where Stephen can rediscover himself through recognizing love. Bloom does not give Stephen any knowledge, but only wisdom through which Stephen again becomes resolute to move on with life as an artist. Bloom himself is shown to be a great learner from life, and after establishing his relation with Stephen, he goes off to sleep being content. Myth provides light to the significance of life, to the hidden splendor of life. It can be assumed that the very purpose of Joyce behind using the mythic method is to provide an expression to the hidden splendor of life, for life in its essence cannot be verbalized; it cannot be articulated directly. Stephen’s relationship with Bloom represents an individual’s direct relationship with life, for Stephen rediscovers himself through Bloom as Bloom makes Stephen recognize love and therefore open up space where two human beings can participate in communion and recognize themselves in one another. Hence, Joyce’s characters are very much rooted in life. The view through which an individual perceives life, the mental construction of an individual about what he calls life, is very much separated from how life actually is. However, what life itself is cannot be comprehended by the intellect because every answer provided by the intellect of what life is would be an answer separate from life. It can be said that an individual can know what life is if he/she directly lives it; there is no other way. Both the spheres of objectivity and subjectivity needs to be transcended so that “man may wake up to the world which is concrete and actual, as distinct from that which is purely abstract and conceptual” (Watts, 1960, p.15). Therefore, in Ulysses, the protagonist is Leopold Bloom, who is Christ, Elijah and Odysseus, and Bloom is the protagonist because he is not aware or concerned with his own individualism as Stephen is, and because he has no particular relationship with life because “he is alive”, as S L Goldberg states. Bloom’s journey is that of living, whereas Stephen’s journey is about attaining a new realization of life. The mythic journey is not separate from the journey of life, it is an intricate part of the human journey, and the purpose of the mythic journey, as this paper aimed to show, is to highlight the vivacity and radiance of life.
The journey is a never-ending journey, the journey is life itself, and both of Joyce’s novels concern themselves with some moments of life as individuals become more aware, more alive to realize what life is. Bloom becomes content with life as his journey slowly finishes for the night, and Stephen goes off to encounter reality again, but not being the same Stephen that was noticed at the beginning of the book, another Stephen who is more aware of himself in relation to life. Stephen goes of being “alive” like Bloom; he wakes up from his ego, from the world, which is abstract and conceptual. This journey of recognizing oneself is the mythic journey. Recognition of oneself and through that, the recognition of life can be said to be the primary purpose of Ulysses. Myth reveals the deepest truths of life, for, within the myth, there exists no time, and each moment becomes no moment at all but eternity, 24 hours of Bloom or 20 years of Odysseus, all become a part of eternity. Myth provides human beings with the realization that human beings are not a separate part of life, human beings are themselves life, and this “truth in question is not an idea but a reality-of experience so fundamental and alive that we cannot “pin it down” and know “about it” in exact terms.” (Watts, 1960, p.19), and that is why the mythic journey of Bloom and Stephen is a journey very much rooted in the day-to-day living life. The mythic journey is precisely the inner realization of individuals, the realization of the inner reaches of a human being, which is beyond his conscious control, as it reveals to him life as a living truth. Both Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses provide an understanding of this through Joyce’s own aesthetic dimension of mythology.
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