by Gerry O'Flaherty
episode is by far the longest in the book and is written in dramatic
form with stage directions. Since the characters are either drunk
or very tired it is difficult for the reader to distinguish between
what is actuality and what is hallucination. Set out below is a
summary of the action of the episode.
It is about midnight and Stephen and Lynch have come on the train from Westland Row to Mabbot Street, which is the entrance to the brothel quarter. The scene opens with a group of stunted men and women milling around an ice cream cart. A girl like Cissy Caffrey appears with two British soldiers, Privates Carr and Compton. Stephen sings the Introit of a Mass as he walks along the street. Shortly afterwards, Bloom comes rushing up Talbot Street. He had been delayed and has chocolate and bread, and now he buys a sheep's trotter and a crubeen. An old hag grabs his sleeve but he shakes her off and goes in search of Stephen and Lynch.
Cohen's he meets Zoe Higgins who discovers a potato in his pocket
and takes it. They go into the house and find Stephen and Lynch
with two other whores, Kitty and Florry. Stephen is at the piano
and probably because he is dressed like a minister, one of the whores
asks if he is in Maynooth seminary. Bloom hears someone coming down
the stairs and he wonders if it is Boylan. Bella Cohen, the brothel
keeper comes in and overawes Bloom and he hallucinates. When the
back button of his trousers snaps he returns to reality, gets his
potato back from Zoe and is no longer afraid of Mrs Cohen.
demands to be paid and Stephen gives her two pounds. Bloom then
gives her ten shillings and retrieves a pound note. He then takes
charge of Stephen's money. Stephen tells of a dream he had during
the previous night. Privates Carr and Compton pass with their
girl singing 'My Girl's a Yorkshire Girl'. ZoŽ turns on the pianola
and Stephen starts to dance. Suddenly he thinks he sees his mother,
goes pale and stops. One of the girls is going to get water for
him when he strikes out with his ash plant and breaks the mantle
on the lamp. He rushes out of the house and most of the others
Mrs Cohen demands ten shillings for the damage but Bloom throws her a shilling and goes after Stephen. A row starts when Stephen speaks, in the absence of the two soldiers, to their girl. Stephen speaks of killing the priest and king and Private Carr takes this as an insult to Edward VII and knocks Stephen down. Lynch now slips away. Two policemen arrive but Corny Kelleher is able to save Stephen. As Bloom takes care of Stephen, the ghost of his dead son, Rudy, appears.
In Homer, the witch, Circe/Bella Cohen, transforms Odysseus' men into swine. Odysseus is not affected by her enchantments and overcomes her.
Nighttown was slang among Dublin journalist
for the late shift on a newspaper, but Joyce uses
the more customery reference to the brothel area of
Dublin. Monto, named after Montogomery Street,
was considered to be one of the worse slums in Europe
at the turn of the century, rife with depravation
and disease. Many of the brothels were frequented
by British Soldiers, but those Bloom and Stephen frequent
were at the upper end of the area.
The Minstrel Boy
Words by Thomas Moore
Music: a traditional air, arranged by Karl Ronan
Thomas Moore's song is alluded to twice in Ulysses: in the Sirens and Circe episodes. Its words
echo a theme of betrayal, which is one of the main themes of Ulysses. Both Joyce and his son
Giorgio sang this song.
The Holy City
Words by Fred Weatherly
Music by Stephen Adams
The Holy City was sung by Joyce and is mentioned in both Stephen Hero and Ulysses. In Circe its
name is transformed (like everything else in the episode) and the new Jerusalem becomes the new