James Joyce


Dubliners consists of fifteen short stories.
The stories are arranged in four groups that correspond to four “phases” of life:

  • childhood;
  • adolescence;
  • maturity;
  • public life.

A significant theme in all the stories is the feeling of paralysis that many of the characters experience as a result of being tied (legati) to antiquated and limited cultural and social traditions.
The last story, “The Dead”, can be considered Joyce’s first masterpiece. It stands out (si distingue) from other fourteen stories because however similar in theme it is denser.

Narrative technique

The omniscient narrator and the single point of view are rejected: each story is told from the perspective of a character (dalla prospettiva del personaggio). The linguistic register is varied, since the language used suits (si adatta) the age, the social class and the role of the characters.

The use of epiphany

The description in each story is realistic and concise with abundance of external details, even the most unpleasant.
The use of realism is mixed with symbolism (details have a deeper meaning).
Understanding the ephiphany in each story is often the key to the story itself.
The Joyce’s theory of the epiphany suggests the search for something existing under the surface of things and events. The episode described is apparently unimportant but essential to the life of the characters.

A pervasive theme: paralysis

The paralysis of Dublin which Joyce wanted to portrait is both physical and moral linked to (legata alla) religion, politics and culture.
Joyce’s Dubliners accept their condition because they are not aware of it (non sono consapevoli) or because they lack the courage (gli manca il coraggio) to break the chains that bind them (di rompere le catene che li legano).
But there is not paralysis alone but also its revelation to its victims. The coming to awareness (la presa di coscienza) marks the climax (segna il culmine) of these stories. The main theme is the failure to find a way out (via di uscita) of paralysis. None of characters succeeds (riesce): they live as exiles at home, unable to cut the bonds (in grado di tagliare i legami) that tie them (che li legano) to their own world.