This work of art reflects life in Ireland at the turn of the last century, and by rejecting euphemism, reveals to the Irish their unromantic reality. Each of the 15 stories offers glimpses into the lives of ordinary Dubliners, and collectively they paint a portrait of a nation.
Each of the beautifully written short stories in this collection precisely details a brief scene in the life of a resident of Dublin at the turn of the 20th century. Although the characters do not know each other, their experiences unfold along the same streets and often overlap thematically. Their tragedies mirror that of Ireland, a country struggling for political identity and held back, in Joyce's view, by rigid religious ideas and adherence to tradition. Joyce's great skill at dialect offers a sense of the city's complex social structure, while themes of isolation, emotional paralysis, violence, regret, and death run throughout the collection and link all of the stories. Chronologically, too, the stories appear to progress; portrayals of youthful confusion and disillusionment in the opening story, "The Sisters," become the haunting midlife meditations of "The Dead." Like his masterpieces Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake, James Joyce's Dubliners displays consummate control of nuances, emotions, and images.