Ulysses

by: James Joyce

Episode Four: “Calypso”

Bloom is somewhat feminized in Episode Four through the reversal of household roles—Molly remains in bed and orders Bloom to get her breakfast, tea, and a novel. He suspects at some level that his wife—a concert soprano—is, or will be, conducting an affair with her concert manager, Hugh “Blazes” Boylan. But Bloom’s thoughts reflect his feeling of powerlessness to stop his afternoon visit, and in a larger sense to stop the infidelity of his wife or the impending sexual activity of his fifteen-year-old daughter, Milly. As Odysseus was helplessly enthralled to Calypso in The Odyssey, so is Bloom presented in “Calypso” as paralyzed and enamored by Molly. Thus we see Joyce using the Homeric parallels to produce irony—Molly here is the enchanting Calypso and later the dutiful Penelope. Similarly, Bloom is Odysseus, yet we discover in Episode Four that his only son, Rudy, died soon after birth.