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Ulysses - Nausicaa and Female Sexuality

            "Nausicaa," the thirteenth episode of "Ulysses," includes the first female interior monologue of the novel. The scene goes as followed: Bloom wanders along Sandymount Strand, sits on the rocks and admires the young and beautiful Gerty MacDowell from afar. Bloom and Gerty share a sexual encounter as they each masturbate in front of one another. The masturbation in this episode is a result of Bloom voyeuristic pleasure gained from admiring Gerty's beauty. He goes on to please himself as he is aroused the growing sexual energy between them. As a result, Gerty is aroused by her ability to excite Bloom so she follows in his footsteps by also masturbating. In "Nausicaa" there is a blurred line between sexual fantasy and religious fantasy. The sexual fantasy is presented by Bloom as he masturbates in front of Gerty MacDowell, and later the religious fantasy is experienced by a group of men worshipping the Virgin Mary at mass. The vague understanding of both is due in part to Joyce's frequent comparison of Gerty to the Virgin Mary, making it difficult to differentiate between religious and sexual request. The main comparison of Gerty to Mary is in the description of Gerty as she wears the trademark blue of the Virgin Mary; "Gerty's were of the bluest Irish blue" (Ulysses 453). Bloom's exaggerated exploitation of Gerty's desires and looks is present within this episode, as he uses sentimental language in reference to Gerty influences by women's magazines. The way the language is used is as if Gerty embraces advice from women's magazines to increase her sex appeal. She dresses "with the instinctive taste of a votary of Dame Fashion for she felt that there was just a might that he might be out," and wears electric blue "because it was expected in the Lady's Pictorial" (Ulysses, 457). The detailed description of Gerty's clothing and style is a great representation of Blooms character; who is known for his attention to detail.

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