Amatory Darwinism in Finnegans Wake
Towards the end of the “Mime of Mick, Nick, and the Maggies,” romantic rivals Glugg and Chuff fight each other after Glugg’s final attempt to guess the heliotrope riddle and win the hand of Izod. As spectators, Izod and the twenty-eight Floras anxiously watch the battle, their vision obscured by the approaching night. Envisioning the angelic Chuff to be a more ideal suitor than the repulsive Glugg, the “treegrown girls” sum up the romantic stakes of this battle by claiming that “one’s only owned by naturel rejection. Charley, you’re my darwing. So sing they sequent the assent of man” (FW 252.27-9). These allusions to Charles Darwin brilliantly elucidate the amatory stakes of the “Mime,” highlighting Glugg and Chuff’s skirmish not simply as a suitor test for Izod’s hand, but also as the “naturel rejection” of the outcast Glugg and the “assent” of the angelic beau ideal Chuff in a violent, evolutionary war. Especially considering that the darkness clouds the Floras’ ability to “know twigst timidy twomeys, for gracious sake, who is artthoudux from whose heterotropic” (FW 252.19-21), and that Joyce ironically deflates this battle by locating it within the Earwicker children’s nightly play, what emerges from the “Mime” is a critique of amatory Darwinism that illuminates the vehement rejection of otherness at the heart of idealized romance, casting the sibling rivalries of Finnegans Wake in the interrogations of narcissism in Joyce’s previous love plots.