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Ulysses

James Joyce

Key Facts

Important Quotations Explained

Study Questions & Essay Topics

full title  ·  Ulysses

author  · James Joyce

type of work  · Novel

genre  · Modernist novel; comic novel; quest novel

language  · English

time and place written  · Trieste, Italy; Zurich, Switzerland; Paris; 19141921

date of first publication  · Individual episodes were published serially starting in 1918; as a novel, it was first published in 1922

publisher  · First serially in The Little Review; as a novel by Shakespeare & Company

narrator  · Episodes One, Two, Four–Twelve, Sixteen, and Seventeen feature anonymous narrators. Episode Three features Stephen’s thoughts. Episode Thirteen features an amalgamation of anonymous narrator, Gerty MacDowell, and Bloom. Episode Fourteen features a variety of narrators, meant to be representative of the prose styles of historical English authors. Episode Fifteen has no narrator. Molly Bloom is the first-person narrator of Episode Eighteen.

point of view  · Episodes One, Two, Four–Eleven, Sixteen, and Seventeen are told from the third-person viewpoint. Episode Three features interior monologue. Episode Twelve is told from the first-person. Episode Thirteen is told from the third and first person. Episode Fourteen is told variously in the third-person and first-person. Episode Fifteen is in play-script form. Episode Eighteen features an interior monologue.

tone  · The narratives of Episodes One through Eight have a straightforward tone. Episodes Nine through Eleven have a self-conscious, playful tone. Episode Twelve has a hyperbolic, belligerent tone. Episode Thirteen has a sentimental tone. Episode Fourteen has an extreme variety of tones, including pious, sensational, and satiric. Episode Fifteen has no narrator and therefore no dominant narrative tone. Episode Sixteen has a tired tone. Episode Seventeen has a scientific tone.

tense  · Present

setting (time)  ·  8:00 A.M., June 16, 1904–approximately 3 A.M., June 17, 1904

setting (place)  · Dublin, Ireland, and its surrounding suburbs

protagonist  · Stephen Dedalus, Leopold Bloom, Molly Bloom

major conflict  · Molly Bloom’s infidelity with Blazes Boylan; Stephen Dedalus’s search for a symbolic father; Leopold Bloom’s desire for a son (his only son died eleven years ago several days after his birth)

rising action  · Bloom leaves his house for the day, sees Blazes Boylan on the street several times, and becomes anxious about Blazes and Molly’s four o’clock rendezvous. Bloom is convinced they are going to have sex. Stephen and Bloom go about their day. They pass by each other several times and coincidentally meet at Holles St. Maternity Hospital.

climax  · The first climax could be when Bloom looks after Stephen during Stephen’s argument with Private Carr (at the end of Episode Fifteen). The second climax is Bloom’s return home to his bedroom to discover evidence of Molly’s infidelity and to mentally overcome the threat of Blazes Boylan (Episode Seventeen).

falling action  · Bloom and Stephen rest at a cabman’s shelter (Episode Sixteen), then return to the Bloom residence and have cocoa and talk (Episode Seventeen). Bloom tells Molly about his day and asks her to serve him breakfast in bed (Episode Seventeen). Molly lies awake considering the events of the day and a happy memory from her and Bloom’s past.

themes  · The quest for paternity; the remorse of conscience; compassion as heroic; parallax or the necessity of multiple perspectives

motifs  · Lightness and darkness; the home usurped; the East

symbols  · Plumtree’s Potted Meat; the Gold Cup horserace; Stephen’s Latin Quarter hat; Bloom’s potato talisman

foreshadowing  · Stephen’s and Bloom’s compatible dreams set in an Eastern marketplace street

More Help

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No Fear

by mdd07c, September 16, 2012

This book needs a No Fear for it! But if there were a No Fear made, it should be made in a different way from the others; some lines just need to be put into context. For example, I can't tell if one character is thinking or talking.

2 Comments

11 out of 16 people found this helpful

No Fear and Video

by barty567, February 06, 2013

I think Ulysses, and all Joyce (except Finnegan's Wake) should have a No Fear and a summary video. These classics are often overlooked by kids my age, and they should be read!

0 Comments

1 out of 1 people found this helpful

perplexed

by Nordwall, September 22, 2014

I'm about half way through Ulysses and I'm beginning to realize that his scenarios and conversations will never become any clearer than they are now. I rarely quit a thing once I've started, but it's very frustrating. To those of you who have read it in full....do you understand who's talking, where they are, who's good/bad.....nothing is clear to me. I just keep reading words......I'm not sure why.

3 Comments

2 out of 2 people found this helpful

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