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Episode Six: “Hades”

Summary Episode Six: “Hades”

The true pathos of Episode Six is not reserved for the funeral service, during which Bloom’s thoughts seem humorously detached, giving us a defamiliarized version of the Catholic priest’s activities. It is in this sense that Ulysses strives to be a truly realistic novel. Instead of depicting Bloom at the funeral as a character who feels as one is supposed to feel—awed, sentimental, or quietly sad—Joyce purports to show Bloom as he would actually feel, in all its messiness, self-centeredness, and inappropriateness. The pathos of “Hades,” then, is reserved for unspectacular moments, or even repressed moments, such as Bloom’s quietly panicked reaction when the men see and salute Blazes Boylan in the street. Bloom’s reflexive and thorough study of his fingernails in response to Boylan’s appearance is a restrained and implicit representation of pathos that makes a stronger bid for our sympathy than, for example, Simon Dedalus’s scripted tearfulness near the grave of his wife, later in the episode.