Ireland and its Monsters
"Ireland maintained loyalty to Rome in order to create its own national identity wholly separate from the English and their alien Anglicanism. By the early Twentieth century, the newly formed Republic of Ireland demanded global recognition as an independent state—to “take her place among nations”—yet Ireland also insisted in maintaining allegiance with a soteriology that most of Europe after the Reformation considered “hocus pocus” or somehow magical in nature (238-9). Stephen refers to himself as a servant of two masters, “an English and an Italian” referring to the idea that an Irish citizen is both a political subject beholden to England and an ideological prisoner of the Vatican (17). The slippage or variance between a republican modern Ireland and its antiquated religious beliefs provides a receptive canvas for Gothic literature. Joyce’s Ireland wanted to move toward the future but was saddled with the trappings of a medieval past that held back Ireland from ideological progress. The shrinking space between the two walls of Church and State is where we find the monsters of ancient folklore."
Excerpted from "Ghoulies, Ghosties, and Long Leggedy Beasties; The Gothic Tradition in James Joyce’s Ulysses " by Kelly Marie McDonald, literary criticism forthcoming in Vol 5 of Enheduanna Journal.
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