The origin of the collection:
The collection consists of fifteen short stories, about Dubliners; they disclose human situations, moments of intensity and move to a moral, social, or spiritual revelation.
From the beginning he thought the stories should portray some characteristic situations, which could reveal the historical, social and psychological forces that conditioned the life of Dubliners to lead them to so much moral and psychological analysis.
He described his work as "a chapter in the moral history of my country, the centre of paralysis".
The stories are arranged into four groups, as Joyce explained:
Childhood (The Sister, an Encounter, Araby)
Adolescence (Eveline, After the race, Two gallants, The Boarding House)
Mature Life (A Little Cloud, Counterparts, Clay, A Painful case)
Public Life (Ivy Day in the Committee Room, A Mother, Grace)
The Dead is a longer story and can be considered Joyce's first masterpiece.
Joyce's conception of the artist:
Influenced by Flaubert, Joyce thought that the artist, free from all moral, religious or Political pressures, ought to be not omniscient but invisible in his works, in the sense that he mustn't express his own viewpoint in order to give back to the readers a true image of society.
Symbolism in Dubliners:
Moreover, Joyce's realism is combined with symbolism, since external details generally have a deeper meaning.
This sense comes out through the use of the Epiphany, a sudden spiritual manifestation caused by a song, a photo or by particular situation, by which the character comes to a self-realisation about himself or about the reality surrounding him.
One of the best examples of Epiphany can be found in "The Dead", the last of the stories in "Dubliners".
Gretta Conroy, in fact, cries listening to a song sung by Michael Furey, who died for her love when he was just seventeen.
This leads Gabriel, Gretta's husband, to realize the futility of the lives...