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Joyce, James - analysis of Dubliners


Dubliners is a collection of 15 short stories set in Dublin, published in 1914 by James Joyce. These stories lake action but disclose human situations and lead to a spiritual revelation.
The stories are divided into 4 groups, which represent phases of human life: childhood, adolescence, mature life, public life. All these stories ( 3 or 4 in each group) have the same themes, narrative techniques and symbols. They are set in Dublin, the most important city for the poet, described in its every part: it’s the object of his love (it collects all his young memories) but also of his hate (there was a bad atmosphere, a strong nationalism and Catholicism, it represented a sort of prison, it’s ‘the center of paralysis').


There are the use of realism (abundance of details) and the use of symbolism (often details have a deeper meaning). That is a similar technique to epiphany ‘the sudden spiritual manifestation’ caused by a trivial situation or a banal object through it the main character became aware; they don’t know themselves until they have an epiphany. But at the end, in spite of the epiphany, they come back to paralysis because they are anti-heroes, inepts.

Paralysis and escape

The paralysis Joyce wants to represent results from external and moral forces linked to religion, politic and culture. Dubliners are weak, scared people with a lack of self-knowledge.
The opposite theme is ‘escape’, it is originated by a sense of enclosure but characters have no the courage to overcame.

Narrative technique

Each story is told from the perspective of a character, with the presence of the free direct speech and free direct thoughts with some mediations of the narrator. Language suits the social class, the position, the age of the characters.
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