Bibliography w/3 sources “There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision (James).” Originally appearing in Dubliners, a compilation of vignettes by James Joyce, his short story Eveline is the tale of such an unfortunate individual. Anxious, timid, scared, perhaps even terrified — all these describe Eveline. She is a frightened, indecisive young woman poised between her past and her future.
Eveline loves her father but is fearful of him. She tries to hold onto good memories of her father, thinking “sometimes he could be very nice (Joyce 5),” but has seen what her father has done to her siblings when he would “hunt them in out of the field with his blackthorn stick (Joyce 4).” As of late she has begun to feel “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).”
Eveline wants a new life but is afraid to let go of her past. She dreams of a place where “people would treat her with respect (Joyce 4)” and when contemplating her future, hopes “to explore a new life with Frank (Joyce 5).” When, in a moment of terror she realizes that “she must escape (Joyce 6),” it seems to steel her determination to make a new home for herself elsewhere. On the other hand, she is comfortable with the “familiar objects from which she had never dreamed of being divided (Joyce 4).” She rationalizes that: “In her home anyway she had shelter and food; she had those whom she had known all her life about her (Joyce 4).” As she reflects on her past she discovers “now that she was about to leave it she did not find it a wholly undesirable life (Joyce 5).”
Eveline wants to keep the deathbed pledge made to her mother but is alarmed at the prospect of sharing her mother’s fate. Her mother was ill-treated in life and Eveline vows that “she would not be treated as her mother had been (Joyce 4).” She has had a life filled with hardship and chafes under “her promise to keep the home together as long as she could (Joyce 6).” When she recalls “the pitiful vision of her mother’s life (Joyce 6)” she is uncertain of what to do and prays “to god to direct her, to show her what was her duty (Joyce 6).
Importance of Setting in Eveline of James Joyce’s Dubliners
Eveline: The Importance of Setting
Setting is one of the most significant elements in a story. The setting goes far beyond the simple physical attributes and external face value. It seems “Eveline” solely takes place in Dublin in an old room, but the setting actually plays a key role in the story. The setting in “Eveline” helps the reader to better understand the behavior of the main character. The setting in “Eveline” is paralyzing, and this helps the reader to understand why Eveline does not go with Frank to Buenos Aires.
In the majority of the story Eveline “sat at the window,” (512) which parallels with her paralysis because she does not move. Eveline “was going to go away like the others” (512) because she was one of the only people left in Dublin from her childhood. However, Eveline doesn’t go since she is trapped in her setting. Almost nothing in Eveline’s setting ever changes throughout her life. The significance of Eveline looking around the room “reviewing all its familiar objects” (512) is that she “never dreamed of being divided” from them. All around her Eveline “had those she had know all her life about her” (512). Eveline is a product of her environment. The reader can see how the setting never changes, Eveline’s life molds to it. This explains the reason for her not going away and starting a much happier life.
It is extremely hard for her to make the decision of whether or not to go with Frank because she only knows one way. Eveline understands that she has “a hard life,”(513) and she has the chance to go to a place where “it would not be like that” (513). However, it scares Eveline to change her setting. After thinking about leaving she did not find her present setting as “wholly undesirable” (513) as she previously did. The latter part of “Eveline” is set by the sea. This sea is a symbol of rejuvenation for Eveline. Much like in “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin, the sea is a way to escape life. “All the seas of the world tumble around her heart,” (515) and Eveline is unable to flee from her life to go away with Frank. Eveline’s mind has been subconsciencly designed by her environment, and she can’t imagine living life any other way. Eveline is so confused and doesn’t know what is holding her back, but something is.