Important Symbols & Phrases of Episode 6
- The Huggermugger Burial of Polonius: Undertakers give the “bum’s rush” to mourners from the church to the graveyard at Dignam’s funeral. Even Dignam’s name suggests an emphasis on planting the body rather than honoring the dead. “Huggermugger” refers to haste and is best known from Hamlet (see Gifford and Seidman), where it’s used by Claudius describing Polonius’ requiem. Polonius, a sycophant, conniver, plotter of assassination, and pompous purveyor of trite advice, dies unmourned except by immediate family. He dies as a surrogate for Claudius, who hastens to forget him none-the-less. Ulysses, Hades: If “huggermugger” triangulates Dignam’s treatment with Polonius’, and Bloom’s, it contrasts with the tender treatment of infant Rudy’s body by Molly and the household maid.
- Athos: Gifford & Seidman’s Notes reference the Greek Mount Athos. Women were forbidden on Athos due to the presence of a monastery. Similarly, the funeral, except for the widow seems to be generally a man’s affair. Virag gave the name Athos to his dog, but the name also belongs to one of Dumas’ Musketeers. Cunningham, Power, and Simon Dedalus cast a likely three; Bloom will never play their D’Artagnan.
- The Little Flower: “Flower in the Crannied Wall” (90:16-19) recalls Bloom’s pseudonym, Henry Flower. One allusion is seldom enough for Joyce. Poldy’s mishandling of the poem’s title now refers to Thérèse of Lisieux. Commonly referred to as The Little Flower, this simple soul ministered to society’s most despicable, including a celebrated murderer. Ultimately she entered a cloistered community serving her God and humanity through silent prayer. Catholics remember her for humility and kindness. Psychological studies explored her unique devotion. Her biographer Kathryn Harrison says of Thérèse’s spiritual emergence: “Grace, alchemy, masochism: through whatever lens we view her transport, Thérèse’s night of illumination presented both its power and its danger. It would guide her steps between the mortal and the divine, between living and dying, destruction and apotheosis. It would take her exactly where she intended to go.” You may think of Bloom’s secular but equally spiritual metamorphosis as something similar on another “night of illumination.”
- The suicide theme continues: Bloom continues to ruminate about the suicide of his father. Additionally, he considers the suicide of King Saul after his son Jonathan’s death, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Edgar (in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor). The other “mourners” find the attempted suicide of Rueben J. Dodd’s son to be comical. Here the topic focuses in part on the rippling effect of suicide from father onto son and son onto father.
- “…where Childs was murdered….Only circumstantial.”: Gifford and Seidman record that the case for fratricide as dismissed for lack of evidence. The accused had a key, and there was no evidence of a break-in. There is another connection you might make here. Bloom has a key but is without it today. In the small hours of the morning, he will enter his own home without a key and leave no sign of a break-in. While he avoids a charge of murder on this June 16th, he is accused of a catalog of other crimes but is innocent of all but peccadillos.
- Mervyn Browne: As a character in “The Dead,” Browne is generally thought to be the personification of the Reaper Grim. Alternately, Death is “the man in the macintosh” who also shows his lanky frame at the graveyard.