When Bloom thinks that the tea-colored Bath of the Nymph over his bed looks like Molly—"Not unlike her with her hair down: slimmer"—he echoes the comparison that Odysseus makes between Calypso and Penelope. In contests with goddesses, women do not triumph, and as the novel progresses Bloom meditates intensely on how the longing for an ideal beauty clashes with real-life, embodied desire.

John Hunt 2017

The Toilette of Venus, 1873 oil on canvas painting by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, held in the National Museum of Fine Arts, Buenos Aires. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Bewegungsstudie (Study of Motion), photograph ca. 1927 by Rudoph Koppitz. Source: Wikimedia Commons.