Important Themes of Episode 4
- Shared Experiences: Episode 4 takes place ten miles north of the Martello tower, but a kind of quantum reality is at play. Bloom’s musings transport us across distance to Stephen’s experiences at that hour. “Spooky action at a distance,” Einstein called a similar phenomenon. Bloom considers his milk service while similar events transpire at the Martello Tower. He suffers a misplaced key at the hour when Stephen surrenders his key to Mulligan. Poldy recalls a musical performance of Turko the Terrible; Joyce’s mother kept a playbill from that play among her treasures. In the eight o’clock hour, Bloom considers how a tramline to the Cattle Market would boost property values, soon Stephen and Deasy will discuss livestock. More than mere kindred spirits, these two are bound cosmically.
- Introducing Poldy Bloom: Frank Budgen tells us that Stephen and Bloom, who will become his “spiritual” father, are opposites. Young and old but also artistic versus scientific. Bloom “by race a Jew, equitable in temper, humane and just whereas Stephen, the Gentile, is egotistical, embittered, denies his social obligations and can be generous but is rarely just.” Bloom is a fully developed personality, while Stephen is still immature. About Bloom, Budgen goes on to say, “… always he is the same kindly, prudent, level-tempered, submissive, tragically isolated, shrewd, skeptical, simple, uncensorious person, with an outward seemingly soft and pliant but with a hard inner core of self-sufficiency.” Bloom’s actions are ordinary and routine. Joyce said how a man ties his shoelaces or eats his egg tells more about him than how he might go off to war. Ulysses then is a modern story more about tying shoelaces and eating eggs than about warcraft.
- What’s in a Name?: Gifford and Seidman translate Bloom’s given name as “the people’s prince.” Stephen name honors the first Christian martyr. Yes, Joyce did think himself martyred for the sake of his art.
- Metempsychosis: In Hindu theology and theosophy, this is the principle of reincarnation whereby a soul can be reborn into a higher life form through spiritual maturation. This same principle suggests the growth of a soul from one plane of existence to a more advanced one.