In Dubliners, Joyce rarely uses hyperbole, relying on simplicity and close detail to create a realistic setting. This ties the reader's understanding of people to their environments. Additionally, Joyce's prose does not pressure characters into thinking a certain way; rather they are left to come to their own conclusions. This trait of Dubliners is even more evident when contrasted with moral judgements displayed in the works of earlier writers such as Charles Dickens. This frequently leads to a lack of traditional dramatic resolution within the stories.
It has been argued that Joyce often allows his narrative voice to gravitate towards the voice of a textual character. For example, the opening line of 'The Dead' reads "Lily, the caretaker's daughter, was literally run off her feet." She is not, in this instance, "literally" run off her feet, and neither would Joyce have thought so; rather, the narrative lends itself to a use of language typical of the character being described. Joyce's use of the English language for his characters reflects what later became known as Hiberno-English that is, the English as spoken by average Dubliners and greatly influenced by the older Irish language. Joyce expounded on the subject of language and his use of it in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
Joyce often uses descriptions from the characters' point of view, although he very rarely writes in the first person. This can be seen in Eveline: "Her head was leaned against the window curtains and in her nostrils was the odour of dusty cretonne." Here, Joyce employs an empirical perspective in his description of characters and events; an understanding of characters' personalities is often gained through an analysis of their possessions. The first paragraph of A Painful Case is an example of this style, as well as Joyce's use of global to local description of the character's possessions. Joyce also employs parodies of other writing styles; part of A Painful Case is written as a newspaper story, and part of Grace is written as a sermon. This stylistic motif may also be seen in Ulysses (for example, in the Aeolus episode, which is written in a newspaper style), and is indicative of a sort of blending of narrative with textual circumstances.
The collection as a whole displays an overall plan, beginning with stories of youth and progressing in age to culminate in The Dead. Great emphasis is laid upon the specific geographic details of Dublin, details to which a reader with a knowledge of the area would be able to directly relate. The multiple perspectives presented throughout the collection serve to compare the characters and people in Dublin at this time.