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Ulysses | Quotes


It lay beneath him, a bowl of bitter waters.

Narrator, Part 1, Episode 1

Stephen is looking at the bay from the Martello Tower and considering the bay as a bowl. Buck Mulligan quotes the Homeric epithet (nickname or phrase) for the sea, "the wine-dark sea." But to Stephen the sea this morning looks green, and it reminds him of two things. The first is a song in a play by Irish writer W.B. Yeats, containing the phrase "love's bitter mystery." The second is when his dying mother wept over his irreligiosity and then vomited green bile into a basin. So looking at the sea, Stephen thinks about love, bitterness, and mourning.


What does Shakespeare say? Put but money in thy purse.

Mr. Deasy, Part 1, Episode 2

Mr. Deasy is advising Stephen to save money and never take on any debts. He thinks he will strengthen his advice by bringing in Shakespeare, but he misunderstands the passage he quotes. These words are said by the villain Iago in the play Othello. Iago advises a foolish man, Roderigo, to bring lots of cash with him because Iago intends to cheat Roderigo of this money. Mr. Deasy could hardly pick a worse quotation for Stephen, because Stephen reveres Shakespeare.


History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.

Stephen, Part 1, Episode 2

Stephen views the history of Ireland's struggles as a long series of invasions, rebellions, betrayals, and mourned heroes that hold citizens spellbound with the promised dream of liberty. Rather than holding on to this dream, Stephen would like to be free of the illusion.


Hello. Kinch here. Put me on to Edenville. Aleph, alpha: nought, nought, one.

Stephen, Part 1, Episode 3

Stephen's protean imagination transforms a thought about navels and umbilical cords into a cosmic telephone system through which he could put in a call to Eden. This is typical of the way Stephen views his own situation within a cosmic framework. Bloom has a similar thought; he wants to put a telephone system in graves to ensure the dead are dead. The contrast illuminates their different thought processes. Bloom is empirical, practical, and experimental, while Stephen is speculative and abstract.


You will not be the master of others nor the slave.

Stephen, Part 1, Episode 3

In Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Stephen vowed he would not serve authorities and idols he did not believe in. In this statement in the "Proteus" episode Stephen goes further and forswears dominating others and being dominated.


Dead breaths I living breathe, tread dead dust, devour

Stephen, Part 1, Episode 3

Stephen imagines a drowned man eaten by fish and the fish eaten by people. He then considers how the living are linked to the dead, sharing a bond that extends even into the living person's lungs.


Mr Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls.

Narrator, Part 2, Episode 4

This is the first line of the "Calypso" episode and the reader's introduction to Leopold Bloom. It is typical of Bloom to "relish" a slightly disgusting food—he likes kidneys with a "tang of urine." It is also typical of Bloom to plunge into sensual awareness, as Stephen often plunges into abstract thought.


Elijah is coming! ... Is coming! Is coming!! Is coming!!!

Narrator, Part 2, Episode 8

Bloom is given a "throwaway" or handbill, announcing the preaching of the evangelist Alexander J. Dowie. Dowie proclaims the coming of Elijah, a prophet honored in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Bloom soon throws the paper into the river, but throughout the next episodes, "Elijah is coming" and the throwaway handbill itself announce the coming of Bloom. Bloom is associated with Elijah because his utopian dreams promise a renewed Ireland, although this renewal occurs only in jokes and hallucinations from the "New Bloomusalem" in Nighttown.


Coming events cast their shadows before.

Bloom, Part 2, Episode 8

Bloom thinks of Lizzie Twig, and then he saw her. In Bloom's theory of coincidences, the future event of seeing Lizzie casts a "shadow" in the form of a thought about her. Bloom's idea also describes Ulysses, with its prodigious array of repetitions and variations.


We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men ... but always meeting ourselves.

Stephen, Part 2, Episode 9

Stephen is making an argument for the continuity of the individual through several incarnations over the course of their lives. This supports his theory that Shakespeare is both Hamlet the father and Hamlet the son.


Could you make a hole in another pint?

Joe Hynes, Part 2, Episode 12

Although this episode is famous for the citizen's vicious anti-Semitism and fanatic nationalism, it is also a gathering of hard-drinking, witty Irishmen. Here Hynes offers to buy the anonymous narrator of the "Cyclops" episode a drink. The narrator answers, "Could a swim duck?" The usual word order—"could a duck swim"—would mean yes, I want a drink as surely as ducks can swim. The narrator's reply humorously inverts the answer's syntax in imitation of drunkenness.


There is none now to be for Leopold what Leopold was for Rudolph.

Narrator, Part 2, Episode 14

Bloom and Molly's son, Rudy, died at the age of 11 days. Leopold Bloom was not only Rudolph's son but survived Rudolph's death. Rudy was Leopold's son but cannot survive him. The Virag/Bloom line ends with Leopold.


But in here it is I must kill the priest and the king.

Stephen, Part 2, Episode 15

If Stephen wants to be a free artist, not in service to the church or the British sovereign, he knows he has to change inwardly. When Stephen speaks these words in the brothel, two British soldiers believe he is insulting their king.


The heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit.

Narrator, Part 3, Episode 17

In the question-and-answer format in "Ithaca," this is the answer to the question asking what Stephen and Bloom saw when they emerged from Bloom's house and looked up at the night sky sometime after 2 a.m. These words are the narrator's, but they have the poetic ring of Stephen's mind.


And his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

Molly, Part 3, Episode 18

Molly is recalling Bloom's marriage proposal to her. The recollection produces a symbolic reconciliation between the sleeping Bloom and the adulterous Molly. These are the final words of Ulysses, ending the book on a note of understanding, resolution, and affirmation.

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