Ulysses Summary and Analysis of Chapters 4-6

Chapter Four: Calypso


Chapter Four marks the opening of Part Two, beginning at 8am with Leopold Bloom in his house on 7 Eccles Street. It is breakfast time at the Bloom residence as was the case in Martello, and the scene that we encounter is one of fractured domesticity. Bloom's wife, Molly, is asleep in the bed and their daughter Milly is away. Joyce's focus on Bloom's thoughts is a contrast to Stephen's intellectualism. When he wakes up, Bloom¹s primary concern is to get breakfast made before his wife is stirring. He likes to serve Molly breakfast in bed, and Molly is very specific about how she likes her toast corners cut and her morning tea served. After beginning preparations for her breakfast and serving the cat her milk, Bloom quickly departs for the butcher shop in search of a nice cut of pork kidney for his own breakfast. He later burns the kidney when he spends too much time assisting Molly upstairs.

Indeed, Joyce's Ulysses is more of a comic hero than an epic figure, a resemblance to Cervantes' Don Quijote. Bloom is doomed to wander for the day because he has left his key in the pair of pants that he wore the previous day and he is afraid to go upstairs and disturb his wife Molly. Like Stephen, Bloom is rather submissive in his relationships. Bloom, for example, is aware of the fact that his wife is having an affair with Blazes Boylan, a younger man with whom she professionally sings. Molly has received a letter from Boylan that morning and Bloom is aware that Molly and Boylan plan to consummate their relationship that very afternoon. Additionally, Bloom is also concerned that his daughter's innocence may be imperiled on account of her new suitor; Bloom simply shrugs this off and is passive, if not fatalistic.

We learn a little about Bloom's sexual preferences in his rather obsessive voyeurism. When Bloom goes to the Dlugacz butcher shop, he attempts to pursue a young girl at the hope of catching a glimpse of her underwear. Towards the end of the chapter, Bloom is dressing in all black on account of the funeral of his acquaintance, Paddy Dignam. And the chapter ends when Bloom takes a trip to the outhouse and expresses his concern about again while reading a serialized story which leads him to consider taking up a literary career to make more money.


This chapter is named for Calypso, a nymph who held Ulysses as a captive for seven years. The parallel between Homer's story and Joyce's "Calypso" is rather ironic as it is Bloom's wife Molly who parallels Calypso, when she ought to be a parallel to Ulysses' wife Penelope. Molly stays in bed, half asleep and orders Bloom around the house. While Ulysses was a captive of Calypso who tried to prevent him from reaching his home, Molly holds him captive in his own home. Like Ulysses, Bloom will have to leave captivity, free himself, and then re-enter the home. The painting of The Bath of the Nymph reinforces the Calypso imagery of Molly, and the Bloom's address, 7 Eccles Street, corresponds to Ulysses' seven years of captivity.

Bloom's thoughts are recounted for the reader, much as Stephen's were. In contrast to Stephen's Aristotelian logic, Bloom expresses his thoughts in terms of simple science. Unlike Stephen, Bloom's thinks more on the mechanics of the physical world surrounding him. Nonetheless, both characters are in denial and are unable to adequately address the concerns posed by their relationships. In his depiction of Bloom, Joyce develops the imagery of Ulysses as a wanderer and fuses it with the motif of the Wandering Jew of European legend. Because Bloom works as an ad canvasser for The Freedman Journal, his job requires that he wander the city in search of new advertisements and account renewals. Both Bloom and Stephen are outsiders who are keyless and dressed in all black.

Joyce's depiction of Bloom is very humorous. Upon the conclusion of the chapter we find our hero as a voyeur who is obsessed with food and defecation. Despite the fact that he knows his wife is planning to fornicate with a younger man, he is hapless in response. Instead of a key, he carries a potato in his pocket. His subservience in service to his wife is rather extreme and Bloom has clearly facilitated her affair by moving their daughter Milly out of the house so that she will not come into contact with Molly and Boylan. Furthermore, Bloom intends to stay out of the house for the entire day, willingly exiling himself from the house so that he will not come in contact with the two lovers.

The decay motif that was begun with Stephen's thoughts on Ireland and his dead mother are continued with Bloom. We learn that Bloom's father has died and while he and Molly share a fifteen-year old daughter, their son, Rudy, died when he was eleven days old. Bloom considers his stump lineage to be a parallel to the lack of a Jewish homeland and he is sensitive to both the desires for a Jewish state as well as the need for Irish "Home Rule." Just as Stephen considers thoughts of a potential Irish renaissance, when Bloom arrives at the butcher shop of Dlugacz, also a Hungarian Jew, he looks at a pamphlet advertising ventures for utopian settlements in the Levant. Ironically, for all of Bloom's concern about the decay of Jewish customs and community, he violates Jewish dietary laws.

Chapter Five: The Lotus Eaters


Chapter Five begins close to 10am as a keyless Bloom leaves his house and takes a circuitous route to the post office in order to pick up any responses to an advertisement in which he inquired for a secretary. As a result of his advertisement, Bloom has been in correspondence with a flirtatious woman who uses the pseudonym "Martha Clifford" to his "Henry Flower, Esquire." Despite the fact that he has already found an answer to his advertisement, Bloom continues to check the post office box and his advertisement has netted over forty responses and in the end Martha Clifford was the final consideration, narrowly defeating Lizzie Twigg for the "position." Regardless of Bloom¹s initial intent and whether or not he was initially searching for a secretary, Martha Clifford has become a platonic pen-pal and now it seems that the relationship is escalating. Upon reading Clifford's letter, Bloom regrets the fact that he has goaded Clifford by responding to her letters and he is afraid that she may want to meet him instead of continue a Clifford-Flower relationship with non-committed, teasing love letters. As if to confirm her romantic intentions, Clifford, the coquette, has included a flower along with her letter.

After leaving the post office, Bloom travels to the Belfast and Oriental Tea Company, though he only looks through the window and admires the various spiced teas from the outside. Looking through the large window of the store, Bloom is lost in a daydream as he imagines the various advertisement possibilities for the establishment. Bloom continues on his wandering course until he reaches F.W. Sweny's chemist shop where he buys a bar of lemon soap and makes plans to return with a recipe for Molly's lotion. He had forgotten to bring it with him. Bloom sees Bantam Lyons on the street and Lyons misunderstands Bloom's offer of the newspaper that he has just finished reading.

Bloom's statement that he was just going to throw away the paper is misheard by Lyons who thinks that Bloom is giving him a tip on the racehorse, Throwaway. This rather strained comic scene has unfortunate consequences for Bloom, later in the novel. Towards the end of the chapter, Bloom contemplates a Turkish bath, but his peaceful thoughts are interrupted by his memory of his father's suicide. Bloom¹s father, Rudolph, took an overdose of monkshood poison and died in a resort in Italy.


The Lotus flower (also spelled Lotos) was known for its fragrant and narcotic characteristics, inspiring sleep and forgetfulness. When Ulysses spends time in the land of the Lotus-Eaters, he finds that his crew becomes forgetful and is unwilling to leave the new land; they have to be coerced onto the ship. The yellow lotus flower presented an alluring escape from reality much like the appealing banquet of Circe, an enchantress who Ulysses later meets. There are several parallels between the "Lotus-Eaters" chapter and the Homeric episode. The most obvious parallel is in Bloom's purchase of a yellow bar of fragrant lemon soap, and of course, his visit to a chemist specializing in soaps, flowers and perfumes. Bloom also daydreams in front of a spice and tea shop. Additionally, Martha Clifford asks "Henry Flower," for the name of his wife's perfume.

The flower that Martha encloses in her letter is another "lotus" and it is worth noting that Bloom's three names are floral references. His legal name is "Bloom," his ancestral name is the Hungarian word for flower which is "Virag," and his pseudonym is "Henry Flower." In his vision of the Turkish bath, Bloom imagines his penis as the "limp father of thousands" and a "languid floating flower" again combining the physical effects of the flower (sleep, limpness) with its physical characteristics "floating flower." The suicide of Bloom's father, Rudolph Virag, as well as the furtive affair-by-mail are thematic parallels in regards to escapism. The idea of escapism is also reflected in the fact that Bloom refused to see the body of his dead father. Instead he intentionally avoided the sight. Indeed, Bloom's wandering route indicates his fear of being apprehended and his languid, forgetful manner. After all, upon entering Sweny's, Bloom forgets his recipe. The idea of escapism and hiding is important in regards to Bloom and his activity in this chapter greatly foreshadows his street activity for the remainder of the novel. The most revealing aspect of Bloom's personality is the fact that he has perhaps "escaped" from his house to avoid seeing his wife's affair.

We find that for all of Bloom's efforts to escape from the emotional traumas of life, he (like Stephen) will be forced to confront his fears. Bloom's emotionally distant commentary on his father's death and his trips to the grave site will be expanded in a discussion of suicide in the next chapter, "Hades." Furthermore, Bloom has sought to escape from his marriage with Molly by pursuing a false relationship as "Henry Flower," the penpal of "Martha Clifford." Bloom even goes as far as to position himself as a Christ-like figure who is caught between Martha (Clifford) and Mary (Molly's maiden name is Marion Tweed). While Bloom alludes to this scene from the Gospels, made famous by several pieces of art, the parallel with Christ does little to secure his precarious situation. Bloom's escape from Molly becomes just as troubling once Bloom realizes that Martha Clifford wants a physical relationship with Henry Flower.

Joyce's depiction of the modern Ulysses differs from the traditional Homeric hero on a variety of levels. One important difference that becomes even clearer in the "Circe" chapter is the fact that Homer's Ulysses is spared most of the indignities that his crew suffers because of their own immaturity and lack of self-control. In contrast to Homer's Ulysses, Leopold Bloom's character is defined by various, often humiliating entanglements. Some critics go as far as to suggest that Joyce's hero is an anti-hero, citing evidence that the "cuckold" (a man whose wife has been unfaithful) was often depicted as precisely pitiful and emasculated, both in Chaucer and in other canonical works.

Joyce forces the reader to simultaneously identify the heroic and the pitiful within Bloom. His sincere concern for those around him becomes immediately evident to us. Still, we receive confirmation that his wife is going to have an affair and his various comments on manliness and male impersonators playing Prince Hamlet on stage is extremely ironic, considering both Stephen's obsession with the drama and his own imminent emasculation. Joyce re-employs the juxtaposition of emasculation and manliness in the concluding lines of the chapter: "the limp father of thousands, a languid floating flower." "Father" and "floating flower" are both alliterative and indicative of the potential for procreation. Unfortunately, the words "limp" and "languid" sap the potential for procreation. The phrase "father of thousands" is also a direct allusion to Abraham, considered to be the spiritual and Biblical patriarch of the Jews. For Bloom, the emasculation of his cuckolding is echoed in the death of his father and his newborn son, both named Rudolph. Rudolph Virag committed suicide in 1886 and Rudolph "Rudy" Bloom died at the age of eleven days in 1894. Leopold Bloom, in 1904, nonetheless feels trapped in a vice of death.

Besides this continuance of the themes of escapism and paternity, there are three other major themes that Joyce develops in the "Lotus-Eaters." The first is a political one which prepares the reader for the foreshadowed discussions in the "Hades," "Aeolus," and "Cyclops" chapters (Chapters Six, Seven and Twelve). The idea of Ireland's political freedom is expressed in terms of "Home Rule." But what is interesting to note is how the Dublin scenery sparks analog references in Bloom's head, when compared to Stephen. Stephen is contemplating a life of self-exile on the European continent and he imagines his surroundings to be the city of Paris, at times various Greek locales or the coast of Denmark (Elsinore). Conversely, Bloom thinks of the Levant, specifically the Promised Land and his spatial imaginations-mosques, Turkish Baths, the Dead Sea and the island of Ceylon-have a decidedly oriental orientation in contrast to Stephen's continental theme. Joyce hints that the hearts of these men do not lie wholly in Ireland, despite the fact that they both consider themselves to be citizens.

The theme of Bloom's solitude is extensively treated in this chapter, which foreshadows the hero's unsuccessful attempts to belong and feel at ease among his fellow Dubliners. Despite his numerous foibles, Bloom's Jewish heritage is the chief obstacle in his attempts to belong. Joyce humorously depicts Bloom's marginal status in the scene where Bantam Lyons does not bother to listen to Bloom and as a result misinterprets his sentence as gambling advice in support of the racehorse, Throwaway. Far from inconsequential, Lyons' treatment of Bloom is merely the first in a long series of incidents, continuing in the sixth chapter, "Hades," and violently climaxing in the twelfth chapter "Cyclops." Just as Joyce has shown us (through Stephen) that Roman Catholicism is infused in everything Irish, Bloom's Jewishness underscores the exclusion and indignities that he suffers constantly. From Joyce's un-subtle wordplay with racehorse named "Throwaway" to Bloom's mottled thoughts as an outsider commenting on the music of the Catholic church, we begin to gain a sense of the loneliness that wandering entails.

Finally, Joyce steers us through the potentially confusing emotional details of Bloom's dead father and son by refocusing on the theme of the love song to indicate that Bloom's primary concern is not his lineage but his marriage. All of Bloom's thoughts on Martha Clifford are rendered incomplete on account of his mental rebounding to thoughts of Molly. Bloom expresses his confusion on the "mystery" of love and then things of the song "Love's Old Sweet Song." The musical expression of love's mystery and permanence should remind the reader of Stephen's song to his dying mother: "Love's Bitter Mystery." Bloom initially considers that the idea that flowers (rather than music) constitute the "language" of life and love. Here it is important to note that while Bloom is a musical aficionado, his musical knowledge is limited and shallow. Furthermore, Bloom is excluded from the arena of love songs. Not only is his wife Molly a singer, but she is planning to star in a concert with Blazes Boylan with whom she is having an affair. Ironically, the two singers will perform "Love's Old Sweet Song" both on tour and on the afternoon of June 16. The theme of the love song grows more important for both of our heroes as the chapter progresses. For Stephen, love songs are burdensome and chained in memory. For Bloom, as an explicit scene in the "Sirens" chapter will reveal, love songs are performed in an arena from which he is excluded.

Chapter Six: Hades


Soon before 11am, Bloom enters a funereal carriage with other friends of Paddy Dignam. Jack Power, Martin Cunningham, Simon Dedalus (the father of Stephen) and Bloom, follow Dignam's hearse to Glasnevin Cemetery where Father Coffey delivers the conclusion of the religious interment ceremony. Along the way, the carriage passes throngs of urban poor, the small hearse of an orphan, a widow, Blazes Boylan, as well as Stephen Dedalus. As the funeral procession passes through the city, all of Dublin¹s bleakest characteristics are exposed and magnified. Bloom imagines it as a city of the dead and when he passes an old lady, he thinks to himself that she is somewhat relieved to see the hearse pass by her as she lives in the constant fear that the next death she sees will be her own. The carriage has a few navigational problems as the course to Glasnevin Cemetery requires that they pass over four different rivers including the Liffey, Dublin¹s largest river.

Bloom's outsider status is revealed even in the stilted congeniality of the cramped carriage. Power and Dedalus are extremely terse in their comments to Bloom, though Cunningham does make an effort to express his kindness. Still, the conversation is triangular and Bloom spends most of his time thinking of ways to jump into the conversation. His attempt to be sociable is more of a faux pas than anything else and his comments expose him as a non-Catholic. One of the carriage members comments on the unfortunate nature of Paddy Dignam¹s death, given that he died in a drunken and unconscious stupor. For the three Catholics, it need not be said that Dignam was unable to receive last rites, jeopardizing the status of his soul in the afterlife. Bloom, an outsider, has missed the nuance of the conversation and he argues that Paddy was lucky, for dying in ones sleep is the least painful exit. Later the conversation turns to the subject of suicide and Jack Power makes an inconsiderate remark about the eternal damnation suffered by suicides. Unlike Power, Cunningham is aware of the fact that Bloom¹s father committed suicide and he steers the conversation to a lighthearted topic. Despite the stiff sobriety of the occasion though, Bloom's opinions of the Roman Catholic ceremony provide comic relief from the somber subject matter of the chapter.


Chapter Six, "Hades," is named after the Greek underworld where souls were ferried once earthly life has ended. In Homer's epic, Ulysses travels to the underworld for advice and among other souls, he encounters his lost crewman Elpenor. Elpenor fell off of a roof and his death was the result of his excesses and lack of self-control. In Joyce's "Hades," the city of Dublin mirrors the underworld as the funeral procession crosses four rivers just as there are four rivers that divide the territory of the underworld. Elpenor's analog is Dignam whose death is the result of his drunken excesses and some critics also see Martin Cunningham as a parallel to Sisyphus, another famous denizen of Hades. Sisyphus was forced to roll a large stone up a hill, but as soon as he reached the peak of the hill, the stone would roll back down and he was forced to start over again. Cunningham spends his entire life battling his mad wife who pawns all of the family furniture as soon as Martin has scrounged up enough money to re-purchase it. While the most important parallel is the thematic treatment of death, another parallel can be seen in Father Coffey, whose satirized appearance is a striking resemblance to Cerberus, the three-headed dog who guards the underworld. Joyce's word game between D-O-G and G-O-D (begun with Tatters in "Proteus") continues in the contemplation of the Christian Trinity as a parallel to the three-headed dog.

While Bloom's thoughts on Catholicism are not a reflection of his own Judaism, they are the thoughts of an individual who is not a member of the Church and Joyce uses Bloom to critique the Church as an institution. In the carriage discussion of Dignam's death, Bloom suggests that Dignam died a fortunate death having passed in his sleep (a drunken stupor). Bloom receives a startled reaction from the Catholic men in the carriage who understand the fact that Dignam's unexpected death prevented the offering of last rites. When one of the other characters refers to suicide as an unforgivable offense, Bloom's thoughts immediate refer to his father before contemplating the lack of mercy displayed in the Catholic doctrine on suicide.

Simon Dedalus and Martin Cunningham stand out as interesting minor characters in this episode. Simon appears as a rather gruff character, who expresses concern over his distant son's activity and later expresses sadness in Glasnevin Cemetery when he remembers the death of his wife. Martin Cunningham makes an effort to be civil to Bloom, though Cunningham does not regard Bloom as warmly as he regards his friends. When the discussion turns to the topic of suicide, Cunningham changes the subject, aware of Rudolph Virag's suicide. Bloom does suffer unspoken humiliation when the carriage passes Blazes Boylan, who is considered to be "the best man in Dublin." The positive comments of Dedalus, Power and Cunningham (in reference to Boylan) only deepens Bloom's feeling of dread. The image of Bloom as a silent sufferer is reinforced by images of Crucifixion, specifically piercing nails, and again when a newspaper man ignores Bloom in his listing of those present at the Dignam funeral. Like Bantam Lyons, the reporter half-listens to Bloom and thinks (incorrectly) that McIntosh is the name of a man who is wearing a McIntosh (raincoat). Later on, we will find that the reporter has also misspelled Bloom's name.

Besides Bloom's outlandish thoughts, there are other instances of humor including Mrs. Cunningham's habit of pawning the family furniture as well as the story of the capsized hearse. Still, the somber tone of "Hades" is definitive of the chapter. Specifically, Joyce decides to portray Dublin as a city of the dead. The houses are described as houses of death and the gloom of Dublin is evident in the numerous open drains throughout the city's poorest sections. While these open drains are unsanitary and dangerous, they are also portals to the underworld. One of the most memorable scenes of the novel is when Bloom ponders the existence of Catholic Dubliners, who are trapped by the ghosts of the dead while preparing for the own afterlife. Bloom describes the chains of memory as "the love that kills," again expanding the thematic discussion of love as both Bloom and Stephen Dedalus, are both bound by "the love that kills."