Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Susan K. Mooney, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Regina Hewitt, Ph. D.

Committee Member

Pat Rogers, Ph.D.


nationalism, oedipal, masculine, identity, irish


Irish male identity in James Joyce's and Samuel Beckett's novels shows evidence of abjection. The oppressive natures of the Church and State in Ireland contribute to abjection in some Irish men. Furthermore, the state of abject being can lead to masochistic practices. According to Julia Kristeva, abjection translates into a ìconceptual spaceî that has its roots in the Freudian Oedipal complex. Kristeva, following Lacan, also points to the connection between abjection and language. Joyceís character Stephen Dedalus and Beckettís Molloy/Moran both utilize this conceptual space and language in the narrative provides clues to their abject states. Joyceís A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses show Stephenís abjection through his feelings of separation from his fellow citizens as well as his status as an Irish Catholic. Like Stephen, Beckettís protagonist Molloy/Moran endures abjection in terms of separation from the mother. Nevertheless, abjection by an oppressive social construct such as nationalism or religion is not as evident in Molloy. Although Beckett is an Irish author and Ireland is evident in the novel, Molloy/Moran is a universal character. He is abject by his own design ñ what Kristeva calls ìself abjectionî ñ in order to complete the iv search for the mother. Molloy/Moranís search is also a search for the self as he reconciles with approaching death. This is similar to Stephenís self-abjection but Stephen abjects himself in order to separate himself from his fellow Irishmen. Stephenís concerns with death take on different ramifications, as Stephen is not at the same point in his life as Molloy/Moran. Death, for Stephen, is his motherís death and the oppressive guilt she has instilled in him by her admonitions to repent. Masochism is a response to abjection. The age of modernism influenced Joyceís writing, just as the shift from high modernism to postmodernism influenced Beckettís. The Irish response to the changes attendant with modernization, both at the fin-de-siÈcle for Joyce and in the post- World War II years when Beckett wrote, is evident in Stephen Dedalus and Molloy/Moran. According to Suzanne R. Stewart, the turn of the century brought changes in culture through advertising and the advent of consumer capitalism and the bourgeois masculine status quo was threatened. Stewart argues that masochism is partly a masculine response to these changes. I argue that Stephen and Molloy/Moran reflect that response. The result of deferring or suspending either confrontation or resolution is pleasure, or jouissance as the term is used by Jacques Lacan and Julia Kristeva. Neither Joyce nor Beckett makes clear whether Stephen or Molloy/Moran achieve jouissance, effectively leaving the reader suspended, without resolution to the charactersí stories. Abjection and masochism link Stephen and Molloy/Moran as symbols of unaccommodated man and are remarkable in that they reflect not only an Irish masculine identity but also a universal masculine identity at both the turn of the century and postWorld War II.