As the name applies, Exiles is about the consequences of living away from one’s homeland and origins and, as such, can be clearly related to Joyce’s situation after nearly a decade in Trieste (the play was probably begun in late-1913, possibly after Joyce put an end to Prezioso’s  ‘courting’ of his wife, and written during 1914; Joyce would tell his agent Pinker that the play was finished in April, 1915).  However, the ‘exile’ of the title also refers to the distance between people, in this case a complicated quadrilateral involving two couples, and introduces the theme of adultery as an insoluble, all-consuming and permanent aspect of the human condition.

Exiles is thus also an important transitional text in Joyce’s movement towards the themes that would dominate Ulysses (once again:  exile and adultery) and though the treatment and approach are very different, it probably provided Joyce with the final preparation and focus he needed in order to  begin his masterpiece.