You are on page 1of 5

Zbarskaya 1

1981. The meaning of some literary works is often enhanced by sustained allusion to myths, the
Bible, or other works of literature. Select a literary work that makes use of such a sustained
reference. Then write a well-organized essay in which you explain the allusion that
predominates in the work and analyze how it enhances the works meaning.





Regina Zbarskaya
Ms. Nichole Wilson
AP Literature and Composition
28 April 2014




I have read and understood the sections in the Student Handbook regarding Mason High
Schools Honesty/Cheating Policy. By affixing this statement to the title page of my paper, I am
certifying that I have not cheated or plagiarized in the process of completing this assignment. If it
is found that cheating and/or plagiarism did take place in the writing of this paper, I understand
the possible consequences of the act, which could include a 0 on the paper, as well as an F as
a final grade in the course.
Zbarskaya 2
Regina Zbarskaya
Ms. Nichole Wilson
AP Literature and Composition
28 April 2014
AP Open Question
James Joyces Ulysses sustains allusions to Homers The Odyssey throughout the entire
novel, paralleling the events from the epic within every chapter, even though the characters and
situations are slightly altered to be modernized. In Ulysses, James Joyce achieves the allusion to
The Odyssey through his use of diction pertaining to the epic, hyperboles to connect events from
ordinary life to the epic and motifs to represent situations from the epic, ultimately elevating the
events of ordinary life to an extraordinary level.
Joyce first incorporates specific diction within the novel pertaining to specific events
within The Odyssey. On Blooms journey through the streets of Dublin, he encounters a tea shop
and thinks of the garden of the world with big lazy leaves to float about on, cactuses, flowery
meads, snaky lianas (Joyce 71). He thinks about how he would feel in such a place, not doing a
hands turn all day sleep six months out of twelve lethargy. Flowers of idleness Azotes.
Hothouse in Botanic gardens. Sensitive plants. Waterlilies. Petals too tired to. Sleeping sickness
in the air (Joyce 71-72). In this chapter, Joyce incorporates multiple references to flowers and
the feeling of being drugged, lethargic and mindless. These specific diction choices parallel the
events Odysseus encountered on the island of Lotus Eaters, where some of his men eat the
flowers and wanted to remain on the island forever as they similarly experienced the same
feeling of lethargy and mindlessness. By connecting Blooms experience to the epic, the reader
gets a sense of the epic proportions of Blooms fantasies as well as the procrastination and
Zbarskaya 3
laziness he experiences in his life. Joyce indicates that the feeling of lethargy or even the action
of fantasizing can be as grand as what was encountered in the epic, showing that even ordinary
experiences can be as debilitating or grandiose as the heroes and their circumstances within the
epics.
Next, Joyce incorporates hyperboles in the characterization of certain individuals to
connect them to The Odyssey. As Bloom enters a pub, he observes the Citizen siting in the
corner, on a large boulder at the foot of a round tower a broadshouldered deepchested
stronglimbed frankeyed redhaired largenosed longheaded deepvoiced hairylegged hero
(Joyce 296). He went on to describe the man as measuring from shoulder to shoulder several
ells and his rocklike mountainous knees were covered in hue and toughness similar to the
mountain gorse (Joyce 296). Finally, he described his eyes in which a tear and a smile were
of the dimensions or a goodsized cauliflower (Joyce 296). Joyce specifically used combined
words and hyperboles to describe the Citizen as a large, thundering figure, with eyes much like
the ones the Cyclops had that Odysseus encountered. The parallel drawn between the Citizen and
the Cyclops indicates that Joyce is attributing common, everyday enemies to the same level as
monsters. In Blooms eyes, the Citizen was one of the most horrendous and cruel people he had
ever encountered, as evidenced by the diction used to describe him, and to Bloom, facing the
obstacle of this man was on the same level as Odysseus facing the obstacle of the Cyclops. In
addition, the parallel between the Citizen and the Cyclops also draws a parallel between Bloom
and Odysseus, indicating that Bloom will overpower the Citizen with words and knowledge by
the end of chapter. The parallel serves to once again prove that ordinary life can be on the same
proportion as an epic, but that even ordinary men can use the same techniques that heroes used.
Zbarskaya 4
Bloom managed to scrap up his self-confidence not by physically fighting, but by outsmarting
the Citizen with his questions, just as Odysseus did with the Cyclops.
Finally, Joyce incorporates motifs throughout the novel to parallel the situations
occurring within the epics. The Odyssey begins as Telemachus and Odysseus are forced out of
their homes and must struggle to find a way to reclaim their rightful places. Joyce incorporates
the motif of keys to indicate how both Dedalus and Bloom are kicked out of their homes, but
also how one of them regains his rightful place within his house. As Dedalus and Bloom begin
the day at the beginning of the novel, they find themselves without keys. As Dedalus leaves
Buck Mulligan at his bath, Mulligan asks for the key to the tower, to keep [his] chemise flat
(Joyce 23). Stephen [hands] him the key and realizes he will not sleep in the tower tonight
and unfortunately, home also [he] cannot go (Joyce 23). He thinks of Mulligan as a usurper
(Joyce 23) before finally leaving alone, paralleling the situation in The Odyssey, where
Telemachus is kicked out of his house by the suitors vying for his mothers hand in marriage.
Likewise, Bloom is also kicked out of his house, when finds that he misplaced the key to the
door after he is already out the door. He feels in his hip pocket for the latchkey (Joyce 57),
realizes it is not there but somewhere in the trousers [he] left off (Joyce 57) but does not
want to disturb his wife so he instead pulls the halldoor after him very quietly until it looked
shut (Joyce 57) without ever bothering to go back for his key or lock the door. Blooms
situation alludes to Odysseus situation of being out of the house as he is on his journey back to
Penelope. While Dedalus never receives his key back, Bloom does regain control over his own
house. After Dedalus and Blooms escapades at the pub, they walk back to Blooms house and
he once again realizes that he does not have the key and becomes doubly irritated because he
had forgotten and because he remembered that he had reminded himself twice not to forget
Zbarskaya 5
(Joyce 668). Bloom referred to the two of them as they keyless couple before finally decided
to [climb] over the area railings and lower his body gradually before separating himself
and falling (Joyce 668). Instead of waiting for someone to open the door for him, he decides to
take control of his house and enter it on his own accord, much like how Odysseus forcefully
takes back his own home. Once again, Joyce incorporates a connection from modern life to the
story of an epic. Even though both Dedalus and Bloom merely lost their keys, the motifs of the
keys stood for the peace of mind of having a place to return to. Losing this peace and then
regaining it was, in Joyces opinion, on the same level of discouragement and struggle as the
physical takeover of Odysseys home by the hero. In all of the previous examples, Joyce
indicates that a mental fight is just a wearisome and difficult as the physical fight of a hero. He
purposefully alludes to The Odyssey to make the point that even ordinary mental fights are just as
exhausting, tiresome and extraordinary as the epics in which heroes do extraordinary feats.