On Dubliners: The stories are of particular people in particular situations; the book composes a moral portrait of a particular city: and, although both are in some way expressive of the lives of all men and all cities, the universality is, as it were, a byproduct of the books particularities.
This is characteristic of most good fiction and would not need emphasizing if so much criticism of Dubliners did not make an entirely different emphasis - on mythical and symbolic significances. The objection to these interpretations is not that they are too ingenious or too subtle, but that they spread over stories of rich and delicately articulated meaning a coarse membrane of symbolic and archetypal platitudes, or substitute for the authors finely-formed progeny the sooterkins aborted by the critic. Indeed, it is sometimes suggested that the stories would be of little account were it not for the deeper levels plumbed by symbolic analysis  and, in pursuit of such revelations, the simple facts of the stories are often ignored, misconstrued or even invented; such symbols as are present, like the dying fire in Ivy Day in the Committee Room, are exaggerated, distorted and bent to fit some archetypal scheme (usually a simplified derivative from Ulysses or Finnegans Wake); and arguments are offered which would not be acceptable in dissertations on the Number of the Beast or the Baconian theory. Scientific proof cannot be required of critical interpreters, but it does not follow that free association can pass for literary analysis.
Each story is itself a symbol (in that it represents more than is made explicit, and is not reducible to simple statements) more complex and significant than any symbol it may contain, and in the creation of that greater symbol what is said and done is as important as - usually more important than - what can be identified as symbolic objects or motifs. The apprehension and examination of symbols within a story is part of a critics task, but it is a part which should be handled with special caution. The symbol-mania which afflicts so many critics of Dubliners neglects the whole for the part, and also inflates the part until it deforms or destroys the whole.
Joyce uses symbols in all his works, but, like all other elements, they are subordinated and contributory to the integrated and articulated aesthetic  image.  In fact, in Stephen Dedaluss account of his aesthetic theory (a theory which Joyce had in mind while he was writing Dubliners) he specifically dismisses any general symbolism. [Viz., claritas ... symbolism ... literary talk, P217.]
In Stephen Hero, when Stephen says that the clock of the Ballast Office was capable of an epiphany, he certainly does not mean that it could become a symbol of something else; he means that, at the right moment, its own essential nature could be wholly, intensely and instantly apprehended as though brought into exact focus. [Quotes By an epiphany he meant ... the object achieves its epipany, SH, rev. edn. , 1956, 216-18; ftn. quotes Stanislaus Joyce on his brother's epipanies in (MBK, pp.134-37)
There could hardly be a more emphatic assertion that an epiphany was an apprehension of the thingss or persons unique particularity, and not a symbol of something else. Of course, this uniqueness would have wider  referecne: the epiphany of the Ballast House clock would include apprehensions of the forces that made it precisely what it was and of the general or urban functions it served, and thus would illuminate the nature of all clocks or of all Dublin street furniture. But this is a very different matter from seeing it as a symbol. [...] In the stories, it is the particularities of the individual life or situation which are intensely illuminated and reflect light around them; in the symbolic interpretations the assumption is that the particularities must be translated into abstractions before their signficances can be understood.
The stories of Dubliners are not epiphanies in themselves (though they include moments of epiphany for the reader and some for the characters) [...; quotes the artist who could disentangle the subtle soul ... and re-embody it ... for its new office ... was the supreme artist, SH, 1956, p.82]
The stories are the chosen and exact circumstances in which the apprehended quintessences of Dublin life were re-embodied. Nevertheless, they resemble epiphanies in their mode of operation, in that they focus the essence of a human life or situation in one specific incident, and attempt to define the meaning of the expression Dubliner through an interrelated collection of such specific incidents.
It does not follow that Dubliners is merely a practical exemplificaton of the esthetic theories boldly asserted by Stephen, although both stories  and theories developed during the same period of Joyces life.
Chapter 2: A Portait of the Artist as a Young Man
[Contra Hugh Kenner:] In the past it was offered as a criticism of Joyce that his hero was too priggish: more recent critics, having recognized the irony in the presentation, have gone to the other extreme of supposing that Joyce was mocking a vain aesthete. Thus Hugh Kenner believes that by the time he came to rewrite the Portrait Joyce had decided to make its central figure a futile alter ego rather than a self-image and that neither Stephen nor any extrapolation of Stephen could have written Ulysses. (Dublin's Joyce, p.137.) There can be no doubt that Stephen's development was a transmutation of Joyce's, but it would have been a pointless and ridiculous exercise to make by this transformation a figure of mere absurdity and impotence. All Joyce had available for his portrait of the artist was his own experience, and he used and shaped this to distinguish and present what seemed essential to him in the artistic nature. Naturally there is much that looks absurd in the behaviour of the aspiring artist, as there is always something absurd in the behaviour of a young man who takes himself and his future with profound seriousness. Equally there is something foolish, from the wiser viewpoint of critics, in a young man's attempt to cut free from all ties of family and friends, tear up his roots, and reject his native land. But although the behaviour of a young man, who believes in himself and his purpose, may seem foolish to older, more sceptical men, the energy generated by that foolishness is the means by which some young men pass beyond their immaturity. Stephen's collapsed and deflated condition in the early chapters of Ulysses does not prove that his wild ambitions at the end of the Portrait were merely futile posings. Joyce, himself, as a young man, was full of similar nonsense, as Richard Ellmann's biography shows and Stanislaus Joyce and others confirm.
Ulysses shows the sterile consequences of Stephen's isolation and dreams: it implies that something more was needed - that, like his creator, he had to become a man as well as an artist. Yet he had first to be free. If he accepted responsibilities, made attachments and ties, rooted all his work in Dublin,  he had to do so my choice and not by inheritance or puerile submission. Freedom of chice were not possible without, first, a complete rejection and resurrection: there could be no compromise in acceptance of the artist's vocationo, and it is this uncompromising integrity which the Portrait, while reflecting the element of coldness, absurdity and conceit inescabable in such a severance from humanity, sympathetically represents. Stphen's sense of triumph at the end of the Portrait is justified: he has triumphed. It may be a partial and a temporary triumph, but so are all triumphs in life and a victory is no less a victory becaue it does not end the war. [...] (pp.84-85.)
Chapter . 3: Ulysses: the form and subordinate structures
Some or the patternings are listed in the authors columnar scheme of the work (first published by Stuart Gilbert and printed in fuller form by Hugh Kenner), where they appear under the headings, Title, Scene, Hour, Organ, Art, Colour, Symbol, Technic, and Correspondences.  Since its appearance, the scheme has been often abused as a piece of laboured and mechanical ingenuity, and used as a stick with which to beat the novel. But it is hard to see how the abuse can be justified: a writers working notes are his own business, and are usually too brief, too incoherent, and too subject to modification in the course of composition, to provide a basis for criticism of the completed work. In them, the writer may employ a kind of shorthand which only he understands, and way  resort to various devices which have no more rational bearing on the workings of his creative imagination than the private obsessive oddities some writers have of being able to write only at a certain desk, with a certain pen, at a certain time of day or night, on a clean sheet of paper, or with a packet of cigarettes at hand. They may include self-imposed rules which the writer uses. as a poet may use the technical difficulties of a complicated stanza form, because he has found that his imagination, in some mysterious way, responds to certain formal restraints and impediments. Or they may include speculative schemes where a novelist, for instance, having conceived some resource for enriching a particular episode, considers whether this might be extended and varied to contribute to the work as a whole. This is particularly likely to appear in the notes of a writer like Joyce, who was temperamentally addicted to the elaboration of exhaustive schemes designed to play a part in the total shape of his works.
Several of these functions seem to have been served by Joyces notes. Certainly the columns are not similar in kind or importance. Two of them (Scene and ‘Hour) are merely notes of the place and time of each chapter, with the exception that Mollys closing soliloquy, a kind of epilogue to the day, has no prescribed hour. Of the rest, three (‘Colour, ‘Symbol and ‘Technics) seem to refer centrally to aspects of the handling of the chapters, while the other four (‘Title, ‘Organ, ‘Art and ‘Correspondences) seem to refer to more specifically structural elements. Joyce originally intended to entitle each section of his novel according to its Odyssean parallel, but initially did not do so, presumably because he felt that it would make overemphatic what was meant to be contributory. The ‘Correspondences are, for the most part, minor and detailed Odyssean identifications of characters, ob$ccts and places in the book, together with notes of a few other allusions such as the echo of Hamlet in the situation and mood of Stephen.
Whilst it would be wrong to regard the columnar scheme as a diagram of Ulysses (there are many patterns and relations not included in the scheme, and some of the individual notes are difficult to interpret with reference to the book itself), critical terminology and the whole concept of the books nature have been shaped by these working notes. Therefore, although the scheme has to be handled with caution, since, as Joyce said, it consists of catchwords rather than precise descriptions, and is, at best, a plan of Joyces hopes and intentions rather than of what he achieved, it requires and deserves close scrutiny, to see what light it can throw on the consonantia of Ulysses. (p.123.)
[...] Stephen is tired of the recital of Irelands wrongs, but he cannot regard it as a boring tale; the events happened and their consequences remain. His quandary is like that whic concerns his feelings for his mother: perhaps her love was the only true thing in life, but she was no more, and his bitterness and regret is compared to a fox scraping and listenign at his grandmothers grave. Neither the historical wrongs of Ireland hor his mother s death can be brushed aside and forgotten as though they had never happened; but they cannot be allowed to govern his life. [Ftn. quotes JAJ in response to Gogartys wish for reconciliatioin: O.G.s request was that I should forget the past: a feat beyond my power. I forgive readily enough. Letters II, p.183.)
[Quotes History [...] is a nightmare form which I am trying to awake, U31/42] He cannot, that is, like the jesters, be subservient to the English as though the past had never happened; but he will try to free himself form the incubus of the past. His position is like that adapted by Joyce in a lecture given in 1907, when he summarized Irelands cultural history and concluded by rejecting the idea of a race attempting to live in the past. [132; quotes if an appeal to the past in this manner were valid .... lie down decently in her grave forever, Critical Writings, 173-74.] (pp.132-33.)
Blooms significance in this chapter [Scylla and Charybdis] is only symbolic. As Stephen and Mulligan leave the library, Stephen becomes aware of the latent hostility between them: My will: his will that fronts me. Seas between. Between these two forces, opposed like Scylla and Charybdis, Mr Bloom quietly passes bowing, greeting. Stephen at once recalls his dream of the previous night of the man who welcomed him in the street of the harlots, this time with the addition that in his dream he flew, easily flew. His attitude towards Mulligan changes: he will cease to strive against the usurper (as in the Portrait he had decided not to ‘strive against another - P249), accepting, as it were, the peace of the druid priests of Cymbeline, turning the whole earth into an altar for the praise of the gods. But this too will prove a transitory peace, at best a relaxation from the wrong kind of rivalry. The course he has plotted with the help of Shakespeare is one of conflict and tension rather than of peace; it will be a long struggle to escape destruction by the opposed forces within him, and, before facing that struggle, he needs the friendly support of a father figure, like the fabulous artificer to whom he had prayed vainly at the end of the Portrait.
In the chapters dominated by Stephen the relationship with the Odyssey is less substantial and its relevance more obscure than in the chapters centrally concerned with Bloom. Readers, alerted by the novels title, might be expected to realize that Bloom was a type of Ulysses and his journey through Dublin an odyssey; once this initial recognition was made, it would be reinforced and developed by the detailed handling of the chapters; and, finally, the parallels would be accepted and responded to as a sustained structural metaphor, enriching the texture with echoes and associations, implying varied moral comment, and focusing attention on the nature and significance of the books central action - the coming together of artist and citizen. Much the same can be said of the identification of Stephen as a kind of Telemachus, to which recognition of Bloom as a Ulysses-figure would directly lead. But it is very unlikely that an unassisted reader would have associated Athene with the milkwoman, Sargent with Peisistratus, Egan with Menelaus, or the cocklepicker with Megapenthus ; even when these correspondences have been pointed out, they require lengthy justifications which are at best speculative and contribue comparatively little to ones experience of the novel.
Yet it is possible that, although obscure, they represented for Joyce something more than idle or obsessive ingenuity. They may represent a kind of Odyssean shorthand for the presence of certain important factors in the development of Stephen: in a letter to Carlo Linati, the Italian critic, Joyce said with reference to his summary-key-skeleton-scheme, I have given only catchwords in my scheme but I think you will understand it all the same. (Letters, I, p.146.) In the Odyssey itself, the function of the first four books is not immediately apparent. The presentation of Telemachus wretchedness stresses the urgent need for the heros return, and knowledge of the desperate situation awaiting him creates interest, but both of these are largely achieved in the first book. Telemachus journey neither brings him to his father nor hastens the heros homecoming: in fact, Ulysses returns to Ithaca before his son. But what the journey brings about is a maturing of Telemachus: partly by his own efforts and partly through the help and encouragement of Mentor (Athene), Nestor, Peisistratus, Menelaus and Megapenthus, the dispirited boy-man who helplessly bewailed his lot has been prepared for the challenge to stand by his fathers side and share in the massacre of the suitors. The same is true of Stephen: melancholy and bitterness cannot rescue him from his predicament and Bloom cannot arrive as a miraculous redeemer: first, Stephen has to struggle to free his mind from bondage and begin his own movement towards maturity. Once he has begun, by recognizing his subservient position and determining to leave the Martello Tower, encounters and memories which would otherwise have been of no account play an important part in helping him towards a state of mind in which he can profit from an association with Bloom. The fact that, in his notes, Joyce chose to record these important moments in the process of Stephens maturation by the names of Homeric figures who assisted Telemachus is of no great concern to the reader. Correspondences which cannot be observed without explanatory notes, and which, even when pointed out, add little to the experience of careful reading are of interest chiefly to the student of the writers methods of composition, and are different in kind from those Odyssean parallels which  can be recognized and which contribute to the novels significance. The reader who is ignorant of the epic reference is not excluded from an understanding and appreciation of Ulysses, although, when he is aware of it, his understanding and appreciation is deepened and extended; but such awareness is not dependent on knowledge of all the correspondences listed in Joyces working notes. (p..140-41.)
Joyces Colours seem primarily interesting for what they reveal of the writers mode of composition, and its place in the history of synaesthetia. Joyce may have remarked to Larbaud that his chapters (or some of them) had a characteristic colour like the colours prescribed in the Catholic liturgy. It is even likely that, in considering the appropriate colour for each chapter, the authors choice was influenced by traditional associations of a given colour: as the regal associations of purple must have played a part in Flauberts choice of that colour to represent the general stylistic qualities of Salammbô, so the association of blue with the Virgin may have affected Joyces notion of the colour appropriate to Nausicaa, with the oncoming evening and Blooms deflation of the romantic tone providing grey. But as the colours do not all relate to the liturgy or to any other scheme, and as word-counts and other examinations show that there is no way in which a reader could have identified the colours for himself, it seems reasonable to suppose that Joyce was merely using a well-established device of stylistic colour symbolism to provide a shorthand for certain unaanalysable qualities which he hoped would colour the atmosphere of certain chapters. (p.155.)
Reference to the uses of the word and cognate terms in Ulysses indicates the nature of the problem. Joyce talks of algebraic symbols, phonic symbols, large letters and figures in advertisements, religious emblems, hermetic symbols like the red triangle on a bottle of Bass and traditional symbols like the anchor tattooed on the sailors chest. None of these have any apparent relevance to Joyces column, nor does Blooms contemptuous dismissal of the literary symbolism represented for him by A.E. and his disciple, Lizzie Twigg. Only three passages look helpful: Stephens remark that the cracked looking-glass of a servant is a symbol of Irish art; his thought in Mr Deasys study that coins are symbols of beauty and power; and Seymour Bushes quoted allusion to the Moses of Michelangelo as that eternal symbol of wisdom and prophecy. All of these suggest that a symbol is a real object which, by its complex nature, function and associations, can represent a complex relationship, concept or intuition. However, none of these is the symbol attributed by Joyce to the chapter in which it occurs. Instead of looking-glass, the symbol for Telemachus is Heir - a word which does not occur in the chapter. Mr Deasys coins are symbols of beauty and power partly because they are gold and silver and include three sovereigns and two crowns, but, because they are money, they are also for Stephen symbols soiled by greed and misery: in them, many of the themes of the Nestor chapter seem to focus. But the listed symbol is Horse. It is less surprising to find that in the Aeolus chapter the listed symbol is not ‘Moses but Editor. (p.156.)
[T]he columnar notes  often contribute more importantly to the consonantia of the individual chapters than to that of the novel as a whole - except where the patterns reinforce and elaborate the basic structural features in the double beginning, the central pause in the action, the developing relationship in the cabmans shelter and the kitchen, and the final dissolve as the protagonists and their problems and concerns are subsumed in the consciousness of Molly Bloom. But the two kinds of consonantia are not entirely separate: the fact that each chapter includes in its organization elements of common patterns ensures a degree of consistency and coherence underlying the apparently extreme variety of the manners of presentation. The columnar notes do not in themselves cover the structure and patternings of the novel, or of the chapters. They include no mention of many important structural features. They do not mark the persistence of certain thoughts, memories and images - of the dead mother or the self-poisoned father. They ignore recurring motifs - for instance, the motif of the Mass, introduced by Buck Mulligans performance on the Martello Tower, considered critically by Bloom in church, parodied in the physical eucharist offered by Blooms body in its bath, dominating Stephens image of the role of the artists miracle of transubstantiation, blasphemed against in the Black Mass of the brothel chapter, and, perhaps, finally figured in the two mens partaking of cocoa, the massproduct.  They do not mention the literal, symbolic and thematic keys, which Bloom forgets and Stephen surrenders, which appear in the symbol of the Isle of Man used for an advertisement of the House of Keyes, and which are related to the central action when the incompetent keyless artist is rescued by the competent keyless citizen. More surprisingly, they make no reference to such quasi-religious identifications as Bloom-Elijah, Bloom-Christ, Lynch-Judas, and Stephen-Lucifer, or to the consubstantiality of Father and Son. Above all, they do not indicate the central structural principle - the convergence of citizen and artist, the near-encounters in the newspaper office, the library and the bookstalls, and the relationship which begins in the maternity hospital and develops in the brothel, the shelter and the kitchen.
It appears, then, that Joyces notes are less a diagram of the novel than a set of partially cryptic memoranda referring to certain submerged patterns to be kept in mind by the author but not necessarily traced consciously by his readers. Nevertheless Joyce certainly hoped that his readers would, at various levels of awareness, respond to these submerged patterns: his willingness to show his notes to chosen commentators implies that he was anxious to encourage such a response. The consequences of the publication of the notes have been very mixed: the relationship of some notes to the work itself is so obscure as to have been a source of mystification rather than elucidation, while others, in particular the Odyssean parallels and the technics have provided essential elements of the critical terminology in which the book is discussed. If it is imposible to regasrd the scheme as the complete framework on which Ulysses was constructed, it is equally impossible to regard it merely as evidence of Joyces obsessional and trivial ingenuity. (pp.169-70.)
There is nothing unusual in the occurrence of dual or multiple principles in a novels structure: what is characteristic of Joyce is the degree of elaboration in the subordinate patterns - an elaboration beginning in the symmetrical groupings of the Dubliners stories and culminating in Finnegans Wake, where the two principles become one, and what is constant is cyclic development. Joyces fondness for such structures is related to his apprehension of experience as the product of interacting polar opposites. His disposition, as artist, inclined him to approach the problems of combining complexity and order, whether in form or content, by establishing opposed forces or currents. In Ulysses the static patterns, such as Organs and Arts, relate to the paralysed city; the developing patterns, such as the Odyssean parallels and technics, relate to the principles of real or potential growth. Whereas in the earlier books the movement of the artist is directly contrasted with the citys stagnation, in Ulysses Bloom, structurally as well as thematically, is a bridge between the two: he belongs to the city but not to its paralysis, his cometary orbit is within the citys system but is a constant cyclic moral activity. The novels structure, like its content, grows out of the earlier opposition of city and artist, but reflects a much more complex relationship between them. (p.170.) [End chap. 3]
Ulysses: techniques and styles
[Contra Hugh Kenner:] The emphasis on his story [i.e., Pisgah Sight of Palestine] and its description as a parable invite critical interpretation, though there is very little agreement as to what Stephen meant and even less as to what Joyce meant. Some of the difficulties are illustrated by Hugh Kenner's comment that the vision [Stephen] enunciates is a parable of infertility: plumstones dropping over Dublin from a phallic monument. (Dublin's Joyce, p.251.) No doubt the sexual innuendoes playing round the story justify the phallic significance of the pillar, but this makes nothing of the Mosaic reference, and, as plumstones are the seeds of the plum, they seem an inept symbol of infertility. Before speculating about the meaning of the parable, it would be sensible to consider its nature and function in the total fabric of the novel. It is not a self-contained authorial interpolation, but an effusion of Stephen's mind at a certain point in the action, and the climax to the chapter. With the exception of the imitative verse which accompanies his entry into the chapter, the parable is the first manifestation, in the novel, of the young artist's talent. In it, many disparate thoughts and experiences are fused: the two old women seen, on the beach; the lane where he had embraced a prostitute; Mr Deasy's moneybox; the girl selling plums at the foot of Nelson's pillar (whose cry Bloom had heard on his way to Glasnevin); old Mary Ann, of Mulligan's song, hising up her petticoats; the speeches of Bushe and Taylor; and Crawford's advice to write something with a bite in it about him and his fellow Dubliners. Some links have already been established in Stephen's mind: on the beach he had imagined the two old women to be hiding a baby in the bulrushes,. and, listening to Taylor's Moses analogy, he had linked this image with that of Michelangelo's Moses, described in the speech of Seymour Bushe. But other less explicit trains of thought are involved. [...] (p.196.)
2. Irene Hendry [Chayes] suggests that Joyces conception of a symbol approximates to that of the medieval Church: a symbol has a specific function to perform in a given situation, and, when that function has been performed, nothing prevents the use of the symbol again in a totally different context (Joyces Epiphanies, Sewanee Review, LIV, 1946, pp.449-67; reprinted in Seon Givens, ed,. James Joyce: Two Decades, of Criticism, 1943, NY: Vanguard Press 1963, 45).
3. The scheme reproduced on pp. 120-21 [in Peake] is that printed in Gilbert, p.41, together with the Correspondences column omitted by Gilbert and supplied in Kenner, 226-67. / The same same scheme (apart from incidental details and the naming of the three parts of the novel Telemachia, Odyssey and Nostos) was supplied to Herbert German and published in James Joyce Miscellany, II. An earlier version, sent to the Italian critic, Carlo Linati, is fuller and differs from the later scheme in many respects, but corresponds less closely to the book as it was finished. This scheme is printed in Ellmann, Ulysses on the Liffey, 1972, in Claude Jacquets essay, ‘Les Plans de Joyce pour Ulysse (Louis Bonnerot, ed. Ulysse Cinquante Ans Après: témoignages Franco-Anglais sur le Chef dOeuvre de James Joyce, Paris: Didier 1974). 45 82), which also reprints the German and Gilbert schemes. [Refers here to the Linati scheme.]
4. Most of the other parallels in ‘Correspondences are of very little importance. For instance. in crossing the Dodder, Grand and Royal Canals and the river Liffey, the funeral can be thought of as crossing the four rivers of Hades; Martin Cunningham repeatedly setting up homes for his drunken wife is Sisyphus: Father Coffey, with a belly ‘like a poisoned pup, is Cerberus; the caretaker of the cemetery is Hades, ruler of the underworld; the late Paddy Dignam is Elpenor, dead through drink. Daniel OConnell represents the legendary hero, Hercules; Parnell the betrayed and murdered  king, Agamemnon; and John Henry Menton the resentful and rather stupid Ajax. Corley (in Eumaeus) is identified by the scheme with the loafing neer-do-well, Melanthius, but Gilbert says that he is Theoclymenos (Gilbert, James Joyces Ulysses, Faber , 1952 Edn., p.349). Gilbert is probably right, because the British Museum notesheets show Joyce sketching in a parallel between Theoclymenos, whose genealogy is told at length, who seeks help from Telemachus, and who is sent to Eurymachus, the best of the suitors, and Corley, whose suspect family history is described, who asks Stephen for help, and asks if Bloom could get him a job with Boylan, identified in the scheme as Eurymachus (Notesheets, Eumaeus 6: 124 and 129, 404). These and other minor correspondences merely serve to fill in some sort of background to the central and significant Homeric parallels.
5. W. Y. Tindalls interesting interpretation of this word is that Massproduct, the key word, means three things: the cocoa is mass-produced for the trade; as the product of a symbolic Mass, it is the sacrament; and it suggests the masses for whom it is produced (James Yoyce: His Way of Interpreting the Modern World, NY: Scribner 1950, 29).