There's a reason why Ulysses is considered difficult: it is. Yet pleasurably difficult. It is an attempt to unlock the mystery of consciousness and civilisation without necessarily revealing the secret. Over a period equaling roughly twenty-four hours we wander through the streets of Dublin accompanied by Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom as they drink, dream, and experience the richness of life as it is lived on an ordinary day. If Ulysses has a message it is this: there is no such thing as an ordinary day. Using various writing techniques, including parody and stream of consciousness, Joyce asks us to peer beneath the surface and see the real truth about humanity in all its grubby, lusting, insecure, hypocritical glory. Each minute of each day is lived with private woes and private victories and each individual keeps it all locked up inside their brain, hidden away from their fellow travellers. No more. Joyce removes the necessity of plot and turns the novel into a work of psychological revelation, creating a piece of art which to this day continues to tower over the genre of fiction and indeed the whole 20th Century. Difficult and messy, but only in the sense that life is difficult and messy.
A classic depiction of exile, estrangement, paralysis, and the disintegration of a society, Ulysses records the events of one average day, June 16, 1904, in the lives of three central figures.