According to Joyce, “There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision “(33). In this short story, James tells a tale of Eveline who happens to be an unfortunate individual.
She is depicted as an anxious young woman, scared, timid and terrified by what is happening in her life such as her fathers’ brutality and violent nature towards her, her mothers and brothers death and poverty status of her old father. Joyce showed Eveline as a frightened woman, indecisive and who is so much into her past as opposed to her future.
Eveline is thinking widely as she sits besides a window. She thinks of her family, neighbors, and how years back, they used to play in the open fields where now stand houses and other buildings. She is a nineteen-year-old woman and her mother died. Eveline is planning to escape Ireland with her boyfriend Frank.
She is a hardworking woman both at the store and at home. She takes cares of her family members, her father, and her two young siblings. She gives all her salary to the family despite the fact that her father constantly accuses her as being spendthrift (Nicole 2011).
James Joyce wrote the story of Eveline in 1914. Eveline is the title of the main character in the short story and it shows how she was affected by feminism during her life time. Joyce states that, “the feminist issues affecting Eveline are in her relationship with her boyfriend Frank, relatives, duties, obligations, and societal expectations” (20). She has embodied the importance of the ‘feminine’ in patriarchy.
She has an open opportunity to escape but she does not escape. Eventually, at the end of the story she fails to leave and sentences herself to life as a ‘housekeeper’ (Nicole 2011). She loves her father despite his violent nature against her (Vulgen 2006). She clings onto the best memories of her father, saying, “Sometimes he could be very nice (Joyce 5),” She witnessed her fathers brutality to her brothers when he would “hunt them in out of the field with his blackthorn stick (Joyce 4).”
Eveline has started feeling “herself in danger of her father’s violence (Joyce 4).” Ironically, her father has “begun to threaten her and say what he’d do to her only for her dead mother’s sake (Joyce 5)”.
The story of Eveline revolves around the theme of escape where she dreams of a new and better life but her past, which she is clinging so much to, is impeding her. She would like the kind of treatment with respect anywhere she went and when planning her future, she would like to explore life with Frank. Whenever she is in a moment of terror, she realizes that escaping is the only option to make a new home elsewhere.
She is indecisive between the decision of leaving to a new home and the idea of having to leave behind all the familiar things she never thought she would separate from such as leaving his old and sick father. According to Vulgen, “Eveline argues that she gets all she wants from her present home such as obtaining food and shelter and being in company of all those people she has known in her entire life”( 2006). However, in the end, Eveline finds that she is not able to go (Vulgen 2006).
The thought of her trying to escape in is because of the numerous challenges she has to go through. Joyce James has succeeded in portraying her as the mother figure in her home by keeping the family intact just as her mother did. Eveline’s father withholds her payment from work and is always unfair towards her, which makes Eveline desire to escape. Eveline’s difficult family life is a metaphor representing Ireland (Nicole 2011).
Eveline goes through the normal stages of life. The author of the book, Joyce, “gives us a narration of the deep-rooted poverty and pressure Evelines’ life. Her family responsibilities and issues at the height of poverty weigh heavily on the young woman; her financial difficulties are far much worse than the three boy’s narrators in the previous stories are” (2009). She finds herself in between an undesirable situation of having to take care of her siblings and her abusive father (Vulgen 2006).
The book also touches on another important theme of paralysis, which inhibits Eveline from moving forward. Eveline fails to take the all-important decision that would free her from the chains of oppression entangling her life. Joyce states, “Eveline does not want to leave Ireland and she sees her lover, Frank, as a possible source of danger, as she compares him to his violent father. Her boyfriend, Frank was pulling her closer to them and drowned her” (34).
However, her paralysis will eventually cost her. Eveline faces a very certain and miserable future which is more or less similar to her dead mother’s lonely and gloomy life. The future is uncertain to Eveline but very hopeful, she ought to embrace the future and break the chain of problems in her family.
A closer look at Joyce’s ‘Eveline’, at a feminist angle, shows the oppression and struggle of women in the twentieth century Dublin set-up as clearly outlined in the story through the relationship of Eveline with her lover, her obligations as a young unmarried woman, societal expectations of her and most importantly, her relationship with her family.
Joyce, James. Dubliners Summary and Analysis. Web. 17 Nov. 2009
Nicole, Smith. An Analysis of “Eveline”in The Dubliners. Web. 04 Dec. 2011.
Vulgen, Mark. A Woman of Her Time. Web. 18 April 2006.