Study Guide

Dubliners Love

By James Joyce


How could you portray a whole city without telling a few passionate love stories, right? Dubliners reads like the book version of Love Actually, with fewer happy endings and a whole lot more booze. Love in Dubliners is messy, multifaceted, and rarely simple. You'll see young crushes, stale marriages, and more than a few missed chances. What you won't see are hearts, flowers, candy, or canoodling. That's London's game.

Questions About Love

  1. The structure of Dubliners lets us see what love is like for adolescents, teenagers, and adults. Does the experience of falling in love change between "Araby" and "A Painful Case," or does it feel the same way for everybody? 
  2. Pretend you've had a Michael Furey in your life. Based on reading "The Dead," what's the best way to handle telling someone about a long-lost love? 
  3. No one ever says the word love in "The Boarding House." And Polly and Mr Doran are pretty young. True love or hormones? How about Eveline and Frank?

Chew on This

There's more than romantic love in Dubliners, but sometimes you have to look hard to find it. The way Joe loves his old nanny, Maria, though, seems like one of the best examples of non-traditional love, and it's a bright spot in an otherwise bleak picture.

When it comes to love, near misses seem more common than catastrophic failures. Especially in marriage. Mr and Mrs Kearney ("A Mother") and Mr and Mrs Kernan ("Grace") have functional marriages that aren't exactly loving.