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Ulysses Sex Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph), except for the "Circe" episode, which is (Chapter.Line) and the "Penelope" episode, which is (Chapter.Page). We used the Vintage International edition published in 1990.

Quote #7


Of a bodily and mental male organism specially adapted for the superincumbent posture of energetic human copulation and energetic piston and cylinder movement necessary for the complete satisfaction of a constant but not acute concupiscence resident in a bodily and mental female organism, passive but not obtuse. (17.288)

Here, the narrator explains why Bloom is envious of Boylan. In short, Bloom's envy stems from Boylan's sexual vigor. Yet, the narrator explains the sexual act in cold and mechanical terms. To what extent is this true of sex without love? To what extent does it just shield Bloom from his envy (by imagining the interaction between Boylan and Molly as mechanical instead of passionate)?

Quote #8

At this age of his life simply ruination for any woman and no satisfaction in it pretending to like it till he comes and then finish it off myself anyway. (18.740)

In blunt terms, Molly Bloom here describes how unsatisfying sex with her husband would be. (This is, of course, if they had had sex in the past ten years.) How is sexual desire negotiated and managed in a marriage? Does each partner have an obligation to satisfy the other sexually? If they are not satisfied, do they have an obligation to keep mum about it? What happens if you are in love with someone but find that you are sexually incompatible?

Quote #9

I can feel his mouth O Lord I must stretch myself I wished he was here or somebody to let myself go with and come again like that I feel all fire inside me. (18.754)

For the record, this gets much more graphic. Here, we have Molly thinking back on sex with Boylan as she lays in bed next to her husband. It was sentences like this that led the first readers of Ulysses to think that Molly Bloom really wasn't much more than a prostitute. If we want to approve of and accept Molly as a character (which we do), then how can we reconcile her blatant sexual desire with her role as a mother and a wife?

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