The work is a collection of 15 short stories which were all written by 1905, except for the Dead, the last and longest story, which was written in 1907. The stories are arranged in 4 groups that correspond to 4 phases of life: childhood-adolescence-maturity-public life.
Themes: A significant theme is the feeling of paralysis that many of the characters experience as a result of being tied to limiting social traditions. This paralysis is not only physical but also moral, linked to religion, politics and culture. Dubliners accept their conditions because they are not aware of it or because they don’t have the courage to break these “chains”. They are spiritually weak and they can almost be considered as slaves of their familiar, moral, cultural, religious and political life. This paralysis is also reflected in their relationships, because the characters are unable to relate to others and communicate (as can be seen in the “Dead”).
Finally, another theme escape: the characters feels a feeling of enclosure and wants to change his situation, but all his attempts are destined to fail.
Narrative technique and style: each story is told from the perspective of a character. Free direct speech and free direct thought are widely used: they consist in the presentation of the protagonist’s thoughts, thus allowing the reader to get a direct knowledge of the character.
Since the language used suits the age, the social class and the role of characters, Joyce uses different linguistic registers. Apparently it is realistic because it describes the characters, places, streets and languages of the contemporary Dublin. But o the other hand, Joyce is able to give common objects a deeper meaning, transforming them into “symbols”.