Joyce: Dubliners

Joyce: Dubliners

What is Dubliners?

Dubliners is a novel written by James Joyce and published in 1914. It consists in an acute analysis of Dublin’s life through four sections and an epilogue, each one representing a different stage of life:

  • Childhood
  • Adolescence
  • Maturity
  • Public Life
  • Epilogue


The tone used in the novel is pessimistic and depressing since he describes the life in Dublin as spiritually paralised because of the values of family, church and the state. In fact, he believed that Ireland should have been more open to new cultures, thus refusing its indipendence from Great Britain.

For these reasons, in his 20s, he inflicted himself a self-exile from Dublin, swearing not to go back again. Later, when he had to write about locations in Dubliners , he sent letters to his friends in Dublin asking them to walk from one place to another and measure the time to reach the destination. 

This also explains how he managed to insert realistic features in the novel about time and place. He used realism to describe the character’s physical appearence, too.

[Gabriel] was a stout, tallish young man. The high colour of his cheeks pushed upwards even to his forehead, where it scattered itself in a few formless patches of pale red. […]

Dubliners, The Dead



James Joyce is also famous for having experimented the Free Indirect Thought in his novel Dubliners. The tecnique consists in describing every thought, emotion, memory, feeling and sensorial activity of a character using the third person, thus making the author as invisible as possible.

He also creates the concept of Epiphanies, moments of sudden revelations given by the character’s inner insight. The biggest one in the novel is the one at the end of the epilogue which faces the problem of identity and contributes to the vision of spiritual paralysis introduced by the novel.


The Epilogue is called “The Dead” and it is the climax of the novel in which Gabriel Conroy, the protagonist, has to hold a speech at his aunts’ christmas party. His anxiety towards the speech is shown though the use of the free indirect thought. This anxiety is also enhanced by the dialogues he has with three different ladies at the party, such as one where his political beliefs are questioned. When he goes to the hotel at the end of the night with his wife Gretta, he has to face a difficult situation in which he realises his wife has loved another man much more than she loved him. This is the moment where the epiphanies take place = He first of all acknowledges the fact that his wife has not loved him as much, the second one is that he has never loved someone as much as she loved that man, and the third one where he opens up to a vaster community and realises that all human beings are in the same condition.

His own identity was fading out into a grey impalpable world: the solid world itself, which these dead had one time reared and lived in, was dissolving and dwindling

The Dead, Dubliners

This was Dubliners! 😉 

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