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 rushes to forget him none-the-less. If “huggermugger” connects Dignam’s treatment of Polonius’ to Bloom, 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. Athos is reported to be the name of Virag’s dog but also the name of 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 also results in a reference to Thérèse of Lisieux. Commonly referred to as The Little Flower this simple soul was driven to minister to the most despicable of society including a celebrated murderer. Ultimately she entered a cloistered community serving her God and mankind through silent prayer. She is honored for her humility and kindness. Many psychological studies have been conducted exploring 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 consider the suicide of King Saul after the death of his son Jonathan, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Edgar (in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermore) . 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 affect 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 was dismissed. It was based on little 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 is not accused 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.