Everyman and Leopold Bloom
The Somonyng of Everyman (The Summoning of Everyman), usually referred to simply as Everyman, is a late 15th-century morality play. Everyman uses allegorical characters to examine the question of Christian salvation and what Man must do to attain it. The premise is that the good and evil deeds of one's life will be weighed by God after death. The play is the allegorical accounting of the life of Everyman, who represents all mankind. In the course of the action, Everyman tries to convince other characters to accompany him in the hope of improving his account. All the characters are also allegorical, each personifying an abstract idea such as Fellowship, (material) Goods, and Knowledge. The conflict between good and evil is dramatised by the interactions between characters. Everyman is being singled out because it is difficult for him to find characters to accompany him on his pilgrimage. Everyman eventually realizes through this pilgrimage that he is essentially alone, despite all the personified characters that were supposed necessities and friends to him. Everyman learns that when you are brought to death and placed before God all you are left with is your own good deeds.
Leopold Bloom as modern Everyman
Leopold Bloom and his wife Molly represent the human kind in their travel through life. Even though they are not special, just like "Everyman", Joyce used his characters to depict all human experience in a grand tapestry full of details rich in symbolic meaning.
As life is made of joy, sorrow, sex, loneliness, love, hate, perceptions..... and so on, this is what you find in the book. All of them mixed together, but at the same time well-ordered according to a table of symbolic correspondences that Joyce described in a letter to Carlo Linati, the Italian translator of "Exiles".
The correspondences of Chapter 5
TIME: 10.00 am.
SCENE: Bloom wanders through Dublin.
SYMBOL: The Eucharist
CORRESPONDENCES: Lotus-Eaters-the cabhorses, communicants, soldiers, eunuchs, bather, watchers of cricket. (Eurylochus, Polites, Ulysses, Nausicaa. Host, Penis in Bath, Foam Flower, Drugs, Castration, Oats. Sense: Seduction of faith).
Homeric Parallels: In book 9 of The Odyssey Odysseus recounts his earlier adventures to King Alcinous, telling of the land of the friendly Lotus Eaters, where his men ate flowers which drugged them and made them forget about going home. Odysseus drives the infected men back to the ship and sets sail.
Summary: Bloom walks through the streets of Dublin and performs several errands. Again he and his mind wander (through advertising themes, exotic settings, scientific explanations of phenomena). As ever, he is voyeuristically concerned with the women in Dublin, preoccupied with the 'signs' of the modern city ("Plumtrees Potted Meat", for example, which recurs again and again; what does it refer to? Dignam's burial? Sexual intercourse?), and also mysteriously excited about a letter he has just collected under an alias (Henry Flower). After meeting a friend called M'Coy, avoiding lending him money and musing about the weak voice of the man's wife, Bloom surreptitiously opens the letter. It is from a girl called Martha, whom he has never met, and as he reads it he recalls sado-masochistic passages from other letters she has sent him. He goes into a church and then into a chemist's shop, buying a cake of soap for his bath later (chemicals, perfumes and drugs are the motifs of this episode. Drugs also invoke the themes of pain, loss and their relief... a dimension of Bloom's day which will emerge more clearly later). His meditations on chemists, chemicals, poisonings and physics are interrupted by Bantam Lyons who wants to borrow Bloom's newspaper to check the details of a horse race. Bloom tells him to keep it as he was going to throw it away anyway. Lyons thinks this is a tip on a horse called 'Throwaway'. The day is hot and sticky, and Bloom dreams of himself in the bath with his penis floating languidly.
Comment: Recurrent Bloomian/Homeric themes start to get noticeable in the text as flowers, exoticism and drugs 'recall' the Lotus Eaters of The Odyssey. Sexual desire, often signalled by words, phrases and motifs drawn from Martha's letter (spelling mistakes and all), begins to emerge as a central feature of Bloom's consciousness and of language itself — often, the 'play' of Bloom's internal monologue will return, through puns and associations established episode by episode, to sexual themes.