About the Book

Book Protagonist: Leopold Bloom
Publication Date: 1922
Genre: Literary Fiction

Plot Summary


By James Joyce

'Ulysses' by James Joyce tells the story of events involving Stephen Dedalus, Leopold Bloom, and Molly Bloom on June 16, 1904.

James Joyce, an Irish author, originally released his novel ‘Ulysses’ as a book in 1922. It is widely regarded as a masterpiece, stylistically complex, and exhilarating. Numerous volumes of commentary and analysis have been written about it. The plot of the book is designed to be an updated version of Homer’s ‘Odyssey’.

It is divided into eighteen episodes, all of which span an entire day, following the characters of Leopold Bloom, Molly Bloom, and Stephen Dedalus.

Summary of Ulysses from 8 AM – 1 PM

The story of ‘Ulysses’ begins on June 16, 1904, in Dublin, Ireland, and concludes at some point after 2 a.m. on June 17, in the Blooms’ home at 7 Eccles Street. At 8 a.m., the action starts in Martello Tower, a coastal fortification from the Napoleonic wars, just outside of central Dublin.

At 8:00 A.M., Leopold Bloom prepares breakfast and brings his wife her mail while she is still in bed. Blazes Boylan, the manager of Molly’s concert tour (Bloom believes he is also Molly’s lover), is the author of one of her letters. Boylan will visit at 4:00 this afternoon. Bloom walks to the bathroom after coming back downstairs and reading a letter from their daughter, Milly.

At Garrett Deasy’s boys’ school, Stephen instructs his class in history at around 10:00 a.m. Stephen meets Deasy after class to receive his pay. Stephen receives life advice from the bigoted and condescending Deasy. Stephen consents to deliver Deasy’s editorial letter to acquaintances at the newspaper regarding cow sickness.

The rest of the morning is spent by Stephen walking by himself along Sandymount Strand while reflecting critically on his impressionable youth. On a piece of paper torn from Deasy’s letter, he sketches out a poem in his brain and writes it down.

After leaving the residence, Bloom visits a post office and picks up a letter addressed to him as “Henry Flower.” It is a flirtatious letter from Martha, a covert correspondent. After taking a wash in a public restroom, Bloom goes to a friend’s funeral, Paddy Dignam. He travels to the cemetery in a carriage with other men, including Stephen Dedalus’ father, Simon Dedalus, who, in Bloom’s presence, a non-practicing Jew, makes anti-Semitic slurs.

At the newspaper offices at midday, Bloom tries to sell an advertisement. Stephen is also present and is working on publishing Mr. Deasy’s letter. The newspapermen like Stephen but not Bloom. Bloom departs without successfully putting his advertisement. Stephen joins the newspapermen for drinks.

Summary of Ulysses from 1 PM – 10 PM

Bloom and his ex-girlfriend Josie Breen talk about Mina Purefoy’s delivery at the maternity hospital at 1:00 p.m. Bloom visits Burton’s eatery, but he ultimately chooses to go to Davy Byrne’s for a quick lunch. Bloom remembers spending a quiet afternoon on Howth with Molly. When Bloom sees Boylan on the street, he quickly enters the National Museum before leaving and heading toward the National Library.

At 2 p.m. At the National Library, Stephen is presenting his thoughts about the play Hamlet to the librarian, the poet A.E., and others. The tangential conversation highlights the subject of dads and sons; Stephen is cut off from his disapproving father. At 4 p.m., Bloom spends the time trying to locate his friend Martin Cunningham while Blazes Boylan is supposed to see Molly to purportedly rehearse singing. He wants to discuss Dignam’s life insurance with him. Bloom cares about assisting Mrs. Dignam in obtaining the funding she requires.

Bloom runs into the “citizen,” a racist man, at Barney Kiernan’s pub. The resident is a fervent anti-Semite and Irish patriot. Before a fight, Martin Cunningham hurries Bloom outdoors. Bloom yells his retort from outside the bar, informing the locals that Jesus and God are both Jews.

Lenehan, Blazes Boylan, Ben Dollard, Simon Dedalus, and others assemble in the Ormond Hotel bar. Boylan’s automobile is parked outside when Bloom decides to keep an eye on him. Boylan soon departs for his meeting with Molly, and Bloom sits dejectedly in the Ormond restaurant. Dedalus and Dollard’s singing temporarily cheers him up. Bloom responds to Martha’s letter in writing before departing to post it.

After visiting Mrs. Dignam’s house nearby, Bloom unwinds on Sandymount Strand just before dusk. Gerty MacDowell, a young woman, observes Bloom observing her from across the beach. While Bloom secretly masturbates, Gerty gradually reveals more and more of her legs. Gerty walks away, and Bloom nods off.

Summary of Ulysses from 10 PM – 2 AM

Bloom wanders over to the maternity facility at 10:00 PM to see how Mina Purefoy is doing. Stephen and several of his medical school friends are also at the hospital, drinking and joking about labor and delivery-related topics. Despite privately disapproving of their partying in light of Mrs. Purefoy’s problems upstairs, Bloom agrees to join them. When Buck shows up, the men head to Burke’s pub. At closure, Bloom, feeling protective, follows Stephen and his companion Lynch to the brothel district of the city.

In the brothel, Stephen and Bloom confront their inner demons and have cathartic experiences. Some British soldiers are offended by Stephen; Bloom mediates the situation, and they are released. They take a nap in a shelter run by a cab driver for late-night wanderers like carriage drivers before heading to Bloom’s residence. While drinking cocoa in the kitchen, Stephen decides not to spend the night. The final episode is narrated by Molly, who discusses love, marriage, and her relationship with Bloom. When Bloom finally nods off, Molly doesn’t go to sleep since she was taken aback by his offer for breakfast in bed. Her thoughts stray to Stephen Dedalus, her singing career, her time spent having sex with Boylan in the afternoon, and her youth in Gibraltar. Throughout the monologue, she has a wide range of opinions about Bloom, but it concludes with a memory of their private exchange at Howth and a supportive statement.


 What is the nature of Leopold Bloom’s character in ‘Ulysses’?

Leopold’s character is reminiscent of Odysseus of the 20th century for the bourgeoisie. The novel’s portrayal of his personality, however, is one of the most in-depth in all of literature. Bloom is a canvasser for advertising who is 38 years old. The irony that Dublin’s modern-day Odysseus is a Jew with Hungarian origins is so fully exploited by Joyce that readers frequently overlook Bloom’s Irish mother and numerous baptisms. Bloom’s father was a Jew from Hungary.

Who is Molly Bloom in ‘Ulysses’?

Molly, Leopold Bloom’s adulterous wife, draws a satirical comparison between Penelope, Odysseus’ (Ulysses’) devoted wife, and Penelope from Homer’s ‘Odyssey’. One of the most well-known dramatic monologues in literature is Molly’s famed soliloquy, which she delivers in bed with her husband in Episode 18, the final chapter of the book.

Who is Stephen Dedalus in ‘Ulysses’?

Stephen Dedalus, Joyce’s autobiographical protagonist from ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’, is the focus of the first three episodes of ‘Ulysses’. After ‘Portrait’, we left Stephen, a young poet who had just graduated from college and was heading to Paris in the spring of 1902. Stephen was ambitious and a little conceited. Just over two years later, ‘Ulysses’ picks up. After dropping out of medical school, Stephen led a bohemian, intellectual lifestyle in Paris. Due to his mother’s illness, Stephen was forced to return from Paris, most likely in the summer of 1903.

What was the final episode of ‘Ulysses’ about?

If we interpret Bloom’s final plea for breakfast in bed as a reassertion of his authority over the family, Molly’s outraged response to his request disturbs this patriarchal conclusion. Nevertheless, Episode Eighteen also shows Molly going through the same ordeal of meeting the rival suitors as Bloom acted out in Episode Seventeen. With her final affirmative “yes,” Molly appears to throw them away one by one for Bloom, therefore sealing the victory of Bloom-Odysseus.

Charles Asoluka
About Charles Asoluka
Charles is an experienced content creator, writer, and literary critic. He has written professionally for multiple reputable media organizations. He loves reading Western classics and reviewing them.
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap
Share to...