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Eveline by James Joyce
Transcript of Eveline by James Joyce
Title of work: Eveline (A young woman weighs her decision to flee Ireland with a sailor).
Author: James Joyce (1882 – 1941). Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist movement of the early 20th century.
Genre: short story of naturalism: life as it is —without preachment, judgment, or embellishment— and stresses the importance of the environment and heredity in shaping human destiny.
Date of publication: It was first published on September 10th, 1904, in The Irish Homestead, a journal, and later revised and republished in 1914 in The Dubliners, a collection of fifteen of Joyce's short stories.
Joyce changes tone to show Eveline’s indecisiveness about whether she should stay and help her family or experience a new life with Frank. When she’s leaning towards staying, the tone is melancholy and when she is leaning to adventure with Frank it is exuberant. The final tone is perplexed because Eveline doesn’t decide between the two options. Joyce’s shifts in tone throughout the story are about whether people should do what makes them happy or what they think is the right thing to do. Joyce is saying that when people make decisions there aren’t always great answers.
Some examples are:
Line 1: "She sat at the window watching the evening invade the avenue."
Line 4, paragraph 3: "Those familiar objects". Line 5: "yellowing photograph".
Line 9, paragraph 6: "And now she had nobody to protect her."
Line 4, paragraph 7 : "How well she remember the first time she had seen him( Frank)."
Line 8, paragraph 9: "She remembered her father…"
Line 6, paragraph 10: "She remembered the last night of her mother´s illness."
Line 1, paragraph 12: "As she mused the pitiful vision of her mother life [...] that life of common place sacrifices…."
Last line: "Her eyes gave him no sign of love…"
The Prison of Routine: Restrictive routines and repetitive, mundane details of everyday life mark the lives of Joyce’s Dubliners and trap them in circles of frustration, restraint, and violence. Routine affects characters who face difficult predicaments, but it also affects characters who have little open conflict in their lives. Eveline gives up her chance at love by choosing her familiar life over an unknown adventure, even though her familiar routines are tinged with sadness and abuse. The circularity of these Dubliners’ lives effectively traps them, preventing them from being receptive to new experiences and happiness.
The Desire for Escape: More often than offering a literal escape from a physical place, the Dubliner's stories tell of opportunities to escape from smaller, more personal restraints. Eveline, for example, seeks release from domestic duties through marriage. The impulse to escape from unhappy situations defines Joyce’s Dubliners, as does the inability to actually undertake the process.
The Intersection of Life and Death: Memories of the dead haunt the living and color every action. The dead cast a shadow on the present, drawing attention to the mistakes and failures that people make generation after generation. The monotony of Dublin life leads Dubliners to live in a suspended state between life and death, in which each person has a pulse but is incapable of profound, life-sustaining action.
2) MODERNIST ELEMENTS
Social condition: “the odour of dusty cretonne,” creates an image, which was a major characteristic of modernism, but it also depicts such a common place action as sitting and staring out of a window, an element of the naturalist movement. Joyce also describes Eveline and her hardships as that of the lower working class through his words, “It was hard work-a hard life” (21).
Stream of consciousness: The story travels through Eveline’s thoughts of first her childhood, then the place she calls home, to one of her father’s classmates, then on to what people will think of her leaving, on further still to thoughts of the dynamics to her family, then to thoughts of Frank, then on to her trying to make a decision, further to her mother’s death bed, and eventually it ends with Eveline’s experience of abandoning Frank at the dock. The thoughts flow in the story, but they seem disjointed; however, they also seem to follow a type of thought pattern.
Alienation: Eveline is a female trapped in a male-dominated world, thrust into a role that should be reserved for a mother rather than a daughter and sister. She is stuck between what she feels her mother would want her to do, what society expects her to do, and what she as a person needs to do to achieve a life worth living.
Character's reactions to these symbols serve as characterization of the character. Eveline, for instance, reacts to the house built by a man from Belfast (thus, a Protestant invader) as well as the voice of her mother repeating a nonsensical phrase.
Open-ending: modernist tradition of having an unexpected or unsatisfying ending. The personification and sea-like imagery employed by Joyce is very similar to what one would expect in a poem, “All the seas of the world tumbled about her heart. He was drawing her into them: he would drown her.” (Joyce, 2225). Poetry often uses vast imagery to describe emotions. What Eveline is feeling is given much importance, “all of the seas of the world tumbled about her heart”. Her feelings are so strong, that it takes something as powerful as the sea to describe them. “He would drown her” incorporates a healthy amount of fear into the writing. Modernist poetry could never be absent of fear, since there is no chance of escaping fear in real life.
Epiphany: a sudden revelation of truth by means of unimportant sensory impression. Due to an epiphany, they realize their hopes will never come true. Moral paralyses. Although people suffer, they are afraid of change.
by James Joyce
5) Action in the story is not conventional because all the action occurs not in the real world but in the character’s mind. Actions, hopes and expectations remain fantasy dreams to inhabit the girl's mind and then continuous questioning reality. Action is represented in the form of inactivity. The only action that is seen in the story is people walking (“Few people passed”). Examples of this are:
• “She sat at the window watching the evening invade the avenue.”
• “Her time was running out but she continued to sit by the window […]”
• “She stood among the swaying crowd in the station at the North Wall.”
• “She set her white face to him, passive, like a helpless animal. Her eyes gave him no sign of love or farewell or recognition.”
6) The relationship between Eveline and her father is clearly an abusive one, and it does very much reflect the expectations of how women were treated and expected to behave in 20th Century Ireland. Eveline is struggling with this internal conflict over whether she should stay in her miserable, abusive life caring for her father in Ireland, or run away that very day with Frank to Buenos Ayres. Eveline recalls as she is sitting, looking out the window contemplating her decision. Her position alone by the window shows us that she is trapped by this promise she made to her dying mother that she would look after the household. Their hopes and dreams (which mostly consisted of getting married and having children) came second to the plans her father already had for her. Eveline is doomed from the start because she is the eldest female and her mother is dead.
She is literally terrified. She lives a sad life with him, where she does not feel loved or even safe. She tries to rationalize how her father really does love her, even though he is abusive, cruel and selfish towards her. She uses memories of times when her father wasn't so bad to justify why she shouldn't leave him.
Her father hates Frank because, of course, he wants Eveline to stay at home and to continue cleaning the house, taking care of the cooking and shopping.
James describes Eveline as paralyzed by her fear of leaving her cruel father and breaking the promise made to her mother.
THEME OF PARALYSIS: Moments of paralysis show the characters’ inability to change their lives and reverse the routines that impede their wishes. The protagonist barely moves throughout the story. The verbs which describe her are often verbs of inaction, for example “sat” in the first paragraph. Verbs are also deliberately presented in the passive form: “Her head was leaned.” This stress on inaction or paralysis ends with the visual description of Eveline frozen, “passive, like a helpless animal.” Paralysis is a common theme in Dubliners, and poor Eveline finds herself unable to move forward. She lacks the courage and strength to make that jump that will free her of her oppressive situation. She's too scared to leave Ireland, and sees her lover as a possible source of danger. But her paralysis will cost her. Instead of an uncertain but hopeful future, she faces a certain and dismal future that may well repeat her mother's sad life story.
THEME OF LOYALTY: James Joyce introduces us to the life of a young woman named Eveline. She has the opportunity to escape with Frank, the man she thinks she loves, to a faraway country in search of a new life. Instead, she decides to stay in the dreary and gloomy life she already knows. To understand Eveline's final decision to stay we have to analyze the reasons that prevent Eveline from pursuing a better life. Her fear of the unknown; the fact that she does not know Frank well enough; and the many attachments she has to her home, prompt Eveline to make her decision. The most important reason for Eveline to stay is that she does not have the courage to leave. She tries to convince herself that her life is not totally undesirable, but Joyce reveals how hard and undesirable her life actually is when he tells us that she felt herself in danger of her father's violence.
The mood of "Eveline" is apprehensive, restless and melancholic. Joyce supports the main character's variable and contradictory emotions. Sometimes, Eveline is nostalgic and remembers better times when her mother and brother were still alive. However, she also experiences feelings of hopelessness when she considers what it would be like to stay at the house and fulfill her mother's wishes. When Eveline finally chooses to stay and Frank desperately begs her to go with him, Eveline responds with indifference.