Ulysses “Hades,”Episode 6~pp 86-114.

Important Symbols & Phrases of Episode 6

Appended materials are italicized. 

  • Blindness: Odysseus descends into the underworld to learn who prevents his return home and why. The blind soothsayer Tiresias satisfies his query, but blind sages are in short supply in Dublin. Some stumble blind drunk, but the sagacious are few. Stephen toyed with the ineluctability of vision on Sandymount’s strand, but his blindness is merely due to broken glasses. The historical Joyce had nine surgeries on his eyes and famously wore a patch over one eye for some time in his maturity. Perhaps he attained a demi-wisdom from demi-blindness. Dublin’s name comes from the language of the Danes and translates “Dark (or Black) Pool.” While “natural” Dubliners are blind, the outsider Bloom is naturally sighted. Ultimately he’ll share his vision with Stephen. The funeral processes past the hospice, where Dante Riordan began her slow procession to the cemetery. In the opening pages of Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist. The toddler Stephen is chastised by Mrs. Riordan. She threatens: “(Apologize) O, if not, the eagles will come and pull out his eyes.” Not named Dante without good reason, children are not exempt from torture in her Hades.
  • 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 to describe 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 nonetheless. In Ulysses, if “huggermugger” mirrors 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. Virag ends his testament to his son saying, “ Poor old Athos! Be good to Athos, Leopold, is my last wish.” Bloom considers Athos, reaction, ” He took it to heart, pined away. Quiet brute. Old men’s dogs usually are.” Burgess connects Athos’ name to Odysseus’ dog Argus (115).
  • 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.”
  • “ineluctable Boylan”: Ellmann says about Blooms first encountered this day with Blazes Boylan: “In Ulysses, Bloom struggles to avoid meeting Boylan, but keeps running into him ineluctably (a favorite word of Joyce) all day long” (n278).
  • “…where Childs was murdered….Only circumstantial.”: Gifford and Seidman record that the case for fratricide is 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 Brown(e): As a character in “The Dead,” Browne is sometimes 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. Gilbert marks this appearance in The Odyssey with the mysterious Theoclymenos who appears for no reason at Telemakos’ side during the sacrifice to Athena (171-73).
  • The Realms of Bloom: Campbell relates the first three episodes of Bloom’s book to the realms of his home life, his fantasies or “the ethereal realm,” and the underworld. (93).
  • Dubliners in Ulysses: In addition to Mervyn Brown(e) mentioned above and his appearance in “The Dead,” some commentary connects that character with the “Old Codger” from “An Encounter.” The “old gentleman” Morkan from “The Dead” is also engaged in the business of glue-making. Slaughterhouse waste used to make glue is also mentioned in the Hades episode.  In addition, the Hades episode references “The Sisters” in obvious ways, Peake from “Counterparts,” Ignatius Gallaher of “A Little Cloud,” expatriation and The Sacred Heart in “Evelyn,” The Gordon-Bennett Cup Race-setting in “After the Race,” All Souls’ Day from “Clay,” Parnell and Hynes featured in “Ivy Day in the Committee Room,” Mrs. Sinico’s demise told of in “A Painful Case,” and Kernan, Fogarty, Cunningham, and Powers (M’Coy absent here but mentioned and made an earlier appearance) reappear from “Grace.” I do not find any connection to “Araby” except the abandoned funeral carriages stopped at the pub while mourners drink. This might be stretched to reference “The Arab’s Farwell to His Steed.” Lenehan of “Two Gallants” and Bob Doran the victim of “The Boarding House” appear elsewhere in Ulysses.
  • Drown Barabbas: Gifford ties this to Marlowe’s Jew of Malta. Dies in a cauldron of boiling water prepared for his enemies in baptismal irony.
  • Bloom’s chequered employment history: Mr. Bloom recalls his employment with Wisdom Hely. We may think of Poldy’s employment as always temporary, shuttling in and out of jobs, sometimes due to an inability to hold his tongue. He stayed at Hely’s, however, for six years (Gifford with Seidman n105:13). Rudy Bloom’s death may have precipitated the tenuousness of his father’s employability.
  • Devilling: Gifford and Seidman define a devil as a junior legal counsel. A printer’s devil is an alternate use of the term. This is a demanding and dirty job of breaking up lead typesetting and melting it for re-use. The next episode, Aeolus, takes place in a newspaper’s office.
  • Dignam’s nose: Elpenor who dies in a drunken stupor in The Odyssey, bears a name meaning “the blazing face” in Semitic languages, Dignam’s nose turns “adelite” (a multicolored mineral) under the influence of drink (Berard in Gilbert 167).
  • The Flow of Bloom’s Stream of Consciousness: The coffin that Leopold imagines rattled from the hearse and spilled onto the road becomes one coordinate for “the gigantic interpolations of ‘Cyclops'” according to Rice (103).
  • Hades Borrowed for T.S. Eliot’s Waste Land: Mention of “Tiresias, the dog, the burial; of the dead, death by water, Bloom’s backyard waiting for rain, and the method of allusion and quotations” suggest T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland owes a debt to Ulysses (Tindall n2).

Works Cited

Budgen, Frank. James Joyce and the Making of Ulysses. Indiana University Press, 1960, pp. 85-90.

Burgess, Anthony. “Hell, Wind, Cannibals,” Rejoyce. W.W. Norton & CO, 1965, p. 114-25.

Campbell, Joseph. Mythic Worlds, Modern Words. New World Library, 1993, pp. 91-93.

Ellmann, Richard. James Joyce, Oxford University Press, 1983, n278.

Gifford, Don, Robert J. Seidman. “Episode 6 [Hades],” Notes for Joyce: An Annotation of James Joyce’s Ulysses. Dutton, 1974, pp. 79-98.

Gilbert, Stuart. James Joyce’s Ulysses. New York: Vintage Books, 1955, pp. 159-76.

Homer. “New Coasts and Poseidon’s Son,” Book IX, The Odyssey, translated by Robert Fitzgerald, Doubleday & Company, Garden City, NY, 1961, pp. 139-56. 

Joyce, James. Ulysses. Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition. 

Joyce, Stanislaus. My Brother’s Keeper: James Joyce’s Early Years. DA Capo Press, 1958, p. 235.

Rice, Thomas Jackson. Joyce, Chaos, and Complexity. University of Illinois Press, 1997, p. 103.

Tindall, William York. “Ulysses,” A Reader’s Guide to James Joyce, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1959, pp. 159-63.

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