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Soap Advertisements and Ulysses: The Brooke's Monkey Brand Ad and the Capital Couple

From: James Joyce Quarterly
Volume 47, Number 3, Spring 2010
pp. 417-426 | 10.1353/jjq.2011.0024



The advertising of soap products and particularly the Pears Soap ad were in the vanguard of British imperial progress and its civilizing mission in the late-nineteenth century. Joyce parodies the Brooke's Soap Monkey Brand ad by creating a fantasy scene for Bloom and his lemon soap in "Circe." The Brooke's campaign was provocative because its soap-monkey claimed to be an empire-builder but actu­ally represented the oppressed and dangerous classes. Furthermore, before the company's production facilities were moved to England, Monkey Brand soap was advertised in America and was concerned with cleansing powers rather than civilizing ones. Several aspects of Joyce's handling of the Monkey Brand ad are significant, including Bloom's momentary recollection of the British Pears ad in "Lotus-Eaters," the lemon soap in "Circe" singing like the soap-monkey in the American Monkey Brand ad, and the identification of the lemon soap as the Irish "Barrington's" in "Ithaca." The depiction of the capi­tal couple of Bloom and the lemon soap challenges British imperial commodity culture founded on the division between the civilized and the savage. Bloom demonstrates an odd case of being both dominated (Jewish-Irish) and civilized (clean).

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