The rhetoric of the unspoken voice in the interior monologue and its vocal transfiguration in James Joyce's Ulysses
Sameera Begum Mohamed Siddique
Date of Issue2013
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
This study argues for the manifestation of an inner voice in the interior monologues of James Joyce's Ulysses and how it provides a new way of reading them. Edouard Dujardin, with regards to his execution of the technique in his novel, Les Lauriers sont coupes, defines it as "an unheard and unspoken speech by which a character expresses his inmost thoughts." However, the subjectivity in Dujardin's definition is developed when the silently read interior monologue is rendered from the text into a monologue in the reader's head. In order to adequately analyse the voice in characters' interior monologues, the subjectivity present between reader and characters has to be bridged. This is especially so when the characters may not always be removed from their interior monologues. At times Stephen Dedalus in Ulysses appears to be outside of his interior monologue even as he is thinking. Given this irregularity of the technique within Joyce's celebrated novel, it is pertinent to note how quick changes of voice from third-person to first and vice versa further subjectivizes the relationship between reader and character. This causes voice to become lost in fiction demanding that a mutually-evocative space be etched between reader and character so that voice can be heard again. In line with this postulation is Don Ihde' s concept of the "inner voice" which he defines in Voice and Listening as "thinking in a language" that "does not show itself a word at a time any more" than a "voiced speaking." Throughout this study, what is meant by voice is understood as the "inner voice,"-that is, the common ground between a character's voice in interior monologue and a reader's silent reading voice in the same mode. While the characters may exhibit an innate need for interiority and individuality in their actions-Stephen flirts with the idea of creation, while Bloom advances a mental commentary about death as Molly single-handedly attempts to vocalize her extenuations on a variety of banal issues-their perspicacity as exemplified by the Joycean language and improvisations of the interior monologue are equally, ifnot more important in influencing the inward vocality of their thoughts. As such, the notion of an "inner voice" within the interior monologue, I argue, is an impetus to locate the points where the rhetoric ofthe "unheard and unspoken speech" is heard. On account of the interspersed interior monologues of the three major characters-Stephen, Bloom, and Molly-within Ulysses, three episodes with the most intense displays of their interior monologue have been chosen: "Proteus," "Hades," and "Penelope." Because the novel agglomerates a wide range of techniques within each episode, it is my contention that the "inner voice" of the interior monologue be examined with a focus on synaesthesia and prosody in "Proteus," concealment and stasis in "Hades," as well as punctuation (or its lack thereof) and eloquence in "Penelope." These techniques demonstrate Joyce's propagation of a linguistic and "semantic dissension" towards established modes of meaning in order to evoke the artistic sentiment of his characters and readers. As a result, the study of voice in Ulysses serves as an exercise in reading a Modernist text, reinforcing Pound's dictum in The Cantos to "Make it new," whilst attending to the fragmented interiority of the self despite the vulgar realism of the material world.