Each section of the guide on Joyce's Dubliners contains a synopsis and activities for before, during, and after reading the novel.
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James Joyce's Dubliners


1. Group similar characters - by description, politics, needs, motivations, family relationships, addictions. How do these similarities reflect Joyce's perception of Dublin?
2. Trace the description of Dublin throughout the stories. What is the ultimate picture that Joyce wants to give his readers?
3. The crystallizing event of each story is the epiphany. How is each character's epiphany related to the others'? What causes these epiphanies to occur? Why does Joyce tend to end his stories with an epiphany?
4. In Stephen King's novels Gerald's Game and Dolores Claiborne an eclipse is the turning point, creating both a destructive as well as a motivating force in the lives of his characters. Debate whether the epiphany in Dubliners is a destructive force or a creative force in each of the main characters' lives.
(Many high school students have read these books and are aware of King's repetitive use of Castle Rock, Maine as a central location, just as Joyce used Dublin and Faulkner used Yoknapatawpha County. His characters, too, reflect the character of the area.)
5. Write a short story in which you follow one of these characters through the next few days/months/years of his/her life to illustrate the effect the epiphany/realization had on that character.
6. What is Joyce's viewpoint of men in Dubliners? His view on women? Create paper dolls illustrating the faults and triumphant qualities of the men and women of Dubliners.


1. Explain how "The Dead" is both structurally and thematically different from the other stories. Why does Joyce choose to end his book with this story? How would Joyce's view of Dublin differ without "The Dead"? How does this story bring the rest of Dubliners into focus?
2. How does Joyce unify the different stories into a coherent whole? Look at themes, order of presentation, seasonal order, etc.
3. How do the section titles reflect the themes of each section? How do they reflect the progression of life?
4. Trace the musical imagery throughout all sections of Dubliners. How does music relate to both romance and religion? How does musical imagery communicate what the characters cannot?
5. Which characters have stunted artistic impulses? In which characters could this sense of unobtained beauty (through art, music, or writing) be realized?
6. Write a review of each story using the style of a well-known movie critic such as Leonard Maltin or Jeffrey Lyons to pan or praise Joyce's work.
7. Cast the movie of one of the stories from Dubliners. Consider both the physical aspects of the characters as well as the actors' recent work, and defend your casting choices through examples from the story. Select a director for your film and give reasons for this selection as well.
8. Create a movie/video tape of one of Joyce's stories. This can be a serious rendering of Joyce's story or a parody of that story. Be sure to remain true to Joyce's intent and characters.


For a thorough bibliography of selected biography and criticism, consult the "Selected Bibliography" in the back of the Signet Classic edition of James Joyce's Dubliners.

Works Cited
Bowen, Zack and James F. Carens. A Companion to Joyce Studies. Westport, CN: Greenwood Press, 1984.
Deming, Robert H. A Bibliography of James Joyce Studies. 2nd ed., rev. and enl. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1977.
Ellmann, Richard. James Joyce. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1982.
Garrett, Peter K. Twentieth Century Interpretations of Dubliners. Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice-Hall, 1968.
Gifford, Don. Notes for Joyce. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1967.
Gorman, Herbert S. James Joyce. New York: Rinehart, 1940.
Joyce, Stanislaus. My Brother's Keeper. New York: Viking, 1958.
The Complete Dublin Diary. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press, 1971.
Kenner, Hugh. Dublin's Joyce. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana Univ. Press, 1956.
Levin, Harry. James Joyce: A Critical Introduction. Norfolk, CN: New Directions, 1960.
Preface. The Portable James Joyce. By James Joyce. New York: Penguin, 1975.
Slocum, John J. and Herbert Cahoon. A Bibliography of James Joyce, 1992-1941. Westport, CN: Greenwood Press, 1971.
Tindall, William York. A Reader's Guide to James Joyce. New York: Octagon Books, 1959.

Bibliography of Irish History, Culture, Politics, and Religion
For a concise history of Ireland, consult Gifford's Notes for Joyce: (21-27).
Bartlett, Thomas. The Fall and Rise of the Irish Nation: The Catholic Question, 1690-1830. Savage, M. D.: Barnes and Noble, 1992.
Brown, Terence. Ireland: A Social and Cultural History, 1922 to the Present. Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell Univ. Press, 1985.
Edwards, Ruth Dudley. An Atlas of Irish History. 2nd ed. New York: Methuen and Co., 1937.
Encyclopaedia of Ireland. New York, McGraw-Hill, 1968.
Eyler, Audrey S. and Robert F. Garatt, ed. The Uses of the Past: Essays on Irish Culture. Newark: Univ. of Delaware Press, 1988.
Foster, R. F. Modern Ireland, 1600-1972. New York: Penguin, 1990.
Harmon, Maurice. Fenians and Fenianism; Centenary Essays. Seattle: Univ. of Washington Press, 1970.
Inglis, Tom. Moral Monopoly: The Catholic Church in Modern Irish Society. New York: St. Martin's, 1984.
Lyons, F. S. L. Culture and Anarchy in Ireland, 1890-1939. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1982.
Moody, T. W. A New History of Ireland. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1976.
Stevens, Patricia Bunning. God Save Ireland! The Irish Conflict in the Twentieth Century. New York: Macmillan, 1974.
Uris, Leon and Jill Uris. Ireland: A Terrible Beauty. The Story of Ireland Today. New York: Doubleday, 1975. Film/Video
Huston, John. The Dead. Stamford, CN: Vestron Video, 1988.

Other Works Related to This Book
The themes, setting, writing style, character types, and relationships in Dubliners are explored also in other frequently taught works. Dubliners or some of its stories might be used in thematic units exploring some of the following literary formats or themes. The following suggestions highlight similarities found between Dubliners and:

Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio

• Format - illustration of the dynamics of a town through short stories told from the perspectives of many of the town's residents
• Themes - loneliness ("The Sisters," "Eveline," "Two Gallants," "Clay," and "A Painful Case"); the traps of a small town ("Eveline" and "A Little Cloud"); epiphany (Dubliners entire)

Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun

• Themes - dreams deferred ("A Little Cloud" and "Clay"); family dynamics ("The Sisters," "Eveline," "The Boarding House," "A Mother," and "The Dead")
Robert Cormier's The Chocolate War
• Theme - paralysis (Dubliners entire)

Robert Cormier's Fade

• Theme - perceptions vs. realities (Dubliners entire)
Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman
• Themes - paralysis (Dubliners entire); family dynamics ("The Sisters," "Eveline," "The Boarding House," "A Mother," and "The Dead"); dreams (Dubliners entire); perceptions vs. realities (Dubliners entire)

Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie

• Themes - paralysis (Dubliners entire); family dynamics ("The Sisters," "Eveline," "The Boarding House," "A Mother," and "The Dead"); dreams vs. realities (Dubliners entire)


Wendy Patrick Cope is an English teacher and theater coach at Buckingham County High School in Buckingham, Virginia. She received her A.B. in English and her M.Ed. in English Education at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, and is actively working with challenged readers and writers in the classroom.

James (Jim) R. Cope, Assistant Professor of English at Longwood College in Farmville, Virginia, received his B.S.Ed., M.Ed., and Ed.D. in English Education at the University of Georgia. For the last ten years he has taught English at the high school and college levels. In addition to teaching, he is involved with research focusing on the development of teachers, their interests and attitudes, and the forces that have shaped them.


W. Geiger (Guy) Ellis, Professor Emeritus at the University of Georgia, Department of Language Education, received his A.B. and M.Ed. degrees from the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) and his Ed.D. from the University of Virginia. For over 15 years, Guy has been active in teaching adolescent literature in the classroom and in training future teachers in its use, lecturing and writing extensively on the subject. He developed and edited The ALAN Review from 1978 to 1984, changing its focus from a newsletter to a fully referred journal with an emphasis on articles with research and instructional significance. His research has had heavy emphasis on the content of literature instruction.

Currently Professor and Chairperson of Education at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, Arthea (Charlie) J. S. Reed has taught for 20 years on both the high school and college level. She received her A.B. (Bethany College) and her M.S. (Southern Connecticut State University) in English and her Ph.D. (Florida State University) in Teacher Education. In addition to teaching, Charlie was The ALAN Review (NCTE) editor from 1984 to 1990 and served as Co-Director of the Mountain Area Writing Project (a part of the National Writing Project) from 1982 to 1988. She is also the author of Reaching Adolescents: Young Adult Books and the Schools (Holt, 1985), Comics to Classics: A Guide to Books for Teens and Preteens (Penguin, 1994), and Point-Counterpoint: An Introduction to Education (Dushkin, 1991).

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