Literary Analysis Essay on Eveline's Dilemma by James Joyce

Published: 2021-07-26
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University of Richmond
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Eveline is a short narrative by the Irish writer James Joyce. The story was published in 1904, and in 1914 it featured in Joyces collection of short narratives Dubliners. The story is about a young woman who wants to escape from her home to flee away from his father and from the duties of surrogate motherhood, bestowed on her after her mother died. When she is offered a chance to escape, she learnt that she lacks the courage, spirit, and the strength to do it. The name of this young woman is Eveline, and she is split between leaving Dublin with her boyfriend Frank and staying at home with a responsible daughter. Her relationship with Frank was going on very well. However, her father didn't appreciate the relationship as he disliked Frank. Eveline thinks that her life at home which involves cooking and cleaning is difficult, but then she remembers that she promised her mother that he would maintain the home. On the other hand, Frank is waiting for her to board the ship so that they can escape. After a long period of thinking, Eveline decides not to board the ship. As the ship started moving Frank shouts Come! but Eveline does not move a bit she remains emotionless and motionless.

In the narrative, Eveline Eveline experiences a powerful pull of moral and external forces, which are connected to the forces of the Irish culture and the traditions of the Catholicism. She suffers from what the author described as Paralysis. The young woman wants to leave Ireland but cannot even speak, move, or express emotion on her face. Eveline was raised in a social setting of strict adherence to obedience and tradition. Religious values, for instance, played a major role in the paralysis of the young woman. This is because she had promised her mother that she would take care of their home and she felt obligated to honour that promise. She wants a new life, but the Irish traditions required that she assumes the roles of her late mother and maintain the home. Eveline feels that she has the responsibility of being obedient and sticking to the Irish traditions by living her mothers life. On the other hand, Evelines father is a heavy drinker and a very abusive person who often dictates what Eveline is supposed to do and never lets her make decisions. She not only fears her father but also respects him. The author holds the Catholic Church responsible for Evelines decision. Note that her paralysis at the dockside was prefaced by a prayer urging God to help her understand her duties. Eveline believed that she had a right to happiness and she would often think of a married life in Argentina. She also wanted to flee away from her fathers violence. However, the guilt and fear (about abandoning her younger siblings and her father) overwhelm her, and she decides to stay at her home where life was not the way she wanted.

According to Bloom (1988), the narrative Eveline presents an excellent illustration of the sense of paralysis or stagnation. Throughout the whole narrative, the protagonist barely moves both emotion wise and physically (the author uses the verbs she sat). Evelines paralysis leaves her short of human emotion and will. In fact, the story portrays her as a person who will live in mindless repetition in Dublin since he blew away the one opportunity of living the life he wanted.

Works Cited

Bloom, Harold. James Joyces Dubliners. New York, Chelsea House, 1988.

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