Study Guide

Dubliners Love

By James Joyce


When she had ended her song Joe was very much moved […] and his eyes filled up so much with tears that he could not find what he was looking for. (Clay.22)

Big boys do cry. Especially out of familiar love. What's so great about this scene is that it shows us a rare moment in Dubliners in which the characters do seem to care deeply about each other, and it's not tainted by alcohol, anger, or, um, existential despair.

He thought that in her eyes he would ascend to an angelical stature. (A Painful Case.11)

This is Mr Duffy's idea of love: finding a person who can put you on a pedestal. No wonder the dude's doomed.

Like the tender fires of stars moments of their life together, that no one knew of or would ever know of, broke upon and illumined his memory. (The Dead.154)

Wow. Sounds like love to Shmoop. If just looking at his wife Gretta can make Gabriel feel so swoony, why does it all go so wrong so quickly in the final scene? Is this not love after all?

They used to go upstairs together on tiptoe […] and on the third landing exchange reluctant goodnights. They used to kiss. He remembered well her eyes, the touch of her hand and his delirium. (The Boarding House.19)

Delirium sounds fun, but as poor Bob well knows, it sure doesn't last. Dubliners is full of love like this—once hopeful and sweeping, then awkward and awful.

He might yet be able to settle down in some snug corner and live happily if he could only come across some good simple-minded girl. (Two Gallants.76)

Even Lenehan dreams of love, but it's not exactly of the grand variety. You'd think a young gallant would have bigger, more romantic dreams on his mind. But hey, maybe Lenehan is one of those rare characters in Dubliners who has a modicum of self awareness.

First of all it had been an excitement for her to have a fellow and then she had begun to like him. (Eveline.10)

Despite her bad case of commitment phobia, Eveline's story of falling in love feels real. Sure, it started off as a fleeting thing. But Shmoop totally thinks that some part of her really does love him, which makes it all the sadder when she can't bring herself to hop on the boat.

I did not know […] how I could tell her of my confused adoration. But my body was like a harp and her words and gestures were like fingers running upon the wires. (Araby.5)

Confused adoration? Really? That's the best you can do buddy? He gets a bit more romantic in the next line, with that simile about the harp, but it's the confusion here that really jumps out to Shmoop. We'd write it off as due to the fact that the narrator of "Araby" is so young, but love for the older folks seems just as confusing. Maybe "confused adoration" is really all you can hope for when you're a denizen of Dublin.

When she came out on the doorstep my heart leaped […] her name was like a summons to all my foolish blood. (Araby.4)

This kid is how old, eleven? Man, is he in for it.