Dubliners: Characterisation

As explained in Themes, Dubliners can be seen to chart the progression from childhood through to adulthood. Structuralist critics argue that this chronological structure is the key to the text’s meaning (see Critical approaches). Given the importance of developmental themes and strategies in Dubliners, below is list of characters grouped according to age and/or family role.

There are, of course, many other ways of grouping the characters. For example, one could usefully categorise characters in terms of:

  • their role within the story
  • symbolic significance
  • shared behavioural traits.

Children and adolescents

Narrator of The Sisters - The shy and thoughtful boy who expresses to readers the complex emotions he feels as the result of losing his friend and mentor, Father Flynn.

Narrator of An Encounter – A young boy who dreams of a more adventurous lifestyle then turns his dreams into reality; he skips school and spends the day in Dublin where he meets a disturbing old man.

Mahony – The friend of An Encounter’s narrator. He chases a cat and leaves the narrator alone with the old man.

Narrator of Araby – A boy who becomes enamoured with his neighbour Mangan’s sister; he conveys the frustrations and excitement of young, unrequited, love.

Michael Furey – Gretta Conroy’s deceased childhood sweetheart in The Dead.

Young Women

Mangan’s sister – The love interest in Araby. She can be seen to symbolise both familiarity (‘the girl next-door’) and exoticism (her link with the Araby bazaar).

Eveline – The eponymous protagonist of Eveline; she is torn between embracing the excitement of Argentina and the familiarity of Dublin home life.

Lily – The Morkan sisters’ housemaid in The Dead; she crossly answers back to Gabriel when he asks her about her love life.

Young Men

Jimmy Doyle – The ambitious and extravagant protagonist of After the Race.

Lenehan – One of the charlatans in Two Gallants; unlike Corely, Lenehan is less than happy about his fraudulent lifestyle.

Corley – The second of the charlatans in Two Gallants; Corely is aggressive, misogynistic, unpleasant and duplicitous.


Mrs Mooney – The manipulative owner of The Boarding House and mother of Polly.

Mrs Kearney – The protagonist of A Mother; she is overambitious and pushy, valuing her own desires over her daughter’s welfare.

Older Women

Maria – The shy, prim and proper protagonist from Clay; some critics argue that she symbolises both the Virgin Mary and a witch (see Critical approaches).

Mrs Sinico – Mr Duffy’s affectionate estranged friend in A Painful Case; her death is written about in the newspaper.

Gretta Conroy – Gabriel’s wife in The Dead; her recollection of her deceased childhood sweetheart, Michael Furey, plays a pivotal role in the story.

Molly Ivors – An Irish nationalist who embarrasses Gabriel during a dance in The Dead.

Older Men

Mr Doran – A guest in The Boarding House. A successful clerk, Mr Doran resentfully agrees to marry Polly at the end of the story.

Little Chandler – The discontented clerk in A Little Cloud. This small man is jealous of his successful friend, Gallaher.

Gallaher – Little Chandler’s old friend in A Little Cloud. After living abroad, he reunites with Little Chandler in Dublin. He is worldly wise and impolite.

Farrington – The protagonist in Counterparts; he is an aggressive and angry copy clerk.

Mr Alleyne – Farrington’s boss in Counterparts. He shouts at Farringdon for failing to do his job properly.

Joe Donnelly – The unhappy man that Maria visits in Clay.

Mr Duffy – The solitary and neurotic protagonist in A Painful Case. The story details his complex emotions concerning Mrs Sinico and her death.

Mat O’Connor – One of the politicians in Ivy Day in the Committee Room. He acts as a mediator, attempting to keep the discussion from getting too heated.

Joe Hynes – Another of the politicians in Ivy Day in the Committee Room; he is the only person who is critical of the candidate for whom they all work.

John Henchy – Another of the politicians in Ivy Day in the Committee Room; he is suspicious of his colleagues and changes his views constantly.

Mr Holohan – The secretary who organises the concerts in A Mother; although he is quiet, he stands up to Mrs Kearney.

Tom Kernan – The unsuccessful businessman who falls down the stairs drunk in Grace.

Jack Power – Tom Kernan’s friend in Grace; he looks after Kernan after his fall, then convinces him to come and embrace religion. Rather than committing a selfless act, it appears that Power helps Kernan for personal gain (see  Themes > Religion).

Gabriel Conroy – Gretta’s husband in The Dead. He is an educated man who struggles with social situations. He appears to change for the better at the end of the story.

Elderly Characters

Father Flynn – The priest who dies of a stroke in The Sisters. He is a morally ambiguous character.

Old Cotter – An old family friend in The Sisters; he feels that the relationship between the boy-narrator and the priest was inappropriate.

Julia Morkan – One of the elderly hostesses of the party in The Dead. She is the fatigued sister of Kate Morkan.

Kate Morkan – The other elderly hostess of the party in The Dead. Unlike her sister Julia, Kate is vivacious and alert to the contentment of her guests.

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