Eveline: A History Of Desires Essays Examples
Writing to the Dubliners editor, James Joyce himself announced that Dubliners (1914) aimed to be a chapter in the moral history of Ireland. Dubliners could be reflected in their inner misery and could take notice of their passive indolence.
The piece consists of fifteen stories, all set in the Irish capital and populated by a series of emblematic characters. Their lives, as the main subject of the book, take place in Dublin: a city equally loved and hated. Joyce captured the four emblematic moments of existence: childhood, adolescence, adulthood, public life, but the structure is only apparently organic: actually the real leitmotif is the fragmentation, the rift between different lives and the disunity in a world deeply divided since his own very roots. Beyond the superficial unity of the mosaic of Dublin life there is no relationship or thread between the stories, nor any relationship is established between the characters. Each story is completely foreign to the other.
The only themes constantly recurrent to the fifteen stories are marginalization and failure to process. These issues are reflected in denied affections and in a sense of impending death. All the characters are alone, cut off, alienated from society, nor are they aware of it. The Dubliners, characters frustrated, failed in their aspirations, men and women are unable to change the course of their lives.
The story of Eveline is a story of desires. It is a very short novel, about six short pages, and it opens with the image of Eveline at the window, her face resting on dusty curtains, having a sudden and almost surprised revelation: “She was tired”.
The grey world narrated by James Joyce is perfectly evoked by the Photograph of Poole Street in Dublin, taken during the period 1880-1914. In this picture strongly emerges the atmosphere of Eveline’s world, hers “little brown house”, hers limited horizon. The woman picted in the corner seems to be tired just like the protagonist.
We do not know what Eveline is tired about, but the series of memories and images that follow take us from a past in which the mother was still alive, the brothers and friends all around, to a present in which the image of death or of absence, seems to predominate: "her mother was dead. Tizzie Dunn was dead too, and the Waters Had gone back to England”(Joyce numberpage). What follows in her thoughts is the realization that “Everything changes” (Joyce numberpage ). And the most obvious aspect of this change is the claim of the search for identity: Eveline declares her desire to escape: “Now she was going to go away like the others, to leave her home” (Joyce numberpage). “She Had consented to go away, to leave her home. Was that wise?” (Joyce numberpage).
Eveline wants to leave her home and follow Frank, the sailor: “She was about to explore another life with Frank. Frank was very kind, manly, open-hearted. She was to go away with him by the night-boat to be His wife and to live with him in Buenos Aires where he had a home waiting for her”. Nevertheless this is a will born under the hypothesis of non-effectiveness, verbalized by her own question, "Was that wise?"(Joyce numberpage), a question that slipped out at the same time she claimed to have agreed to run away from home. Eveline, also, seems to have a clear idea of what she will become: “but in her new home, in a distant, unknown country, it would not be like that. Then she would be married - she, Eveline” (Joyce numberpage). A strong vision that seems to be in contrast with her public image of good and quiet girl, maybe a little slow.
Eveline has become aware of a threefold lack. Firstly she is totally unrelated with knowledge (regarding both the self-consciousness and the practical affairs). At the store, in fact, where she works as a saleswoman, she is treated as an inept: “Miss Hill, do not you see These ladies are waiting: - Look lively, Miss Hill, please” (Joyce numberpage). At home her father did not believe her able to manage the money, as he says: “She Had no head” (Joyce numberpage).
Secondly, she has no connection with power: nor she can use strength on her own, nor influence is deployed by third parties in hers favor. Sometimes she felt herself in danger of her father's violence: “she Knew it Was that That Had Given her the palpitations.  He latterly Had Begun to threaten her . And now She Had nobody to protect her” (Joyce numberpage). Thirdly she has no autonomous will as, from the beginning, her parents, her mother before (even on deathbed) and then her father, have always decided for her: “strange as It Should That very night to remind her of the promise to her mother, her promise to keep the home together as long as she could” (Joyce numberpage), “her father found out the affair and Had Had forbidden her to have anything to say to him” (Joyce numberpage).
At this stage of the story, desires are not really missing to Eveline, instead she experiments the total lack of ability in recognizing her own identity, hers place and function. The meeting with Frank, her betrothed, has a dual effect: Eveline states her will, her search for identity: she wants to go away, where “people would treat her with respect” (Joyce numberpage), she wants to her fate “in a distant, unknown country” (Joyce numberpage) to be different from that of her mother as it is written: “she would not be treated as her mother Had Been” (Joyce numberpage). Moreover she gains the consciousness about a desirable future identity: “she would be married - she, Eveline” (Joyce numberpage). The desire to escape is strengthened when the madness of the dying mother became, in the eyes of Eveline, the mirror image of what could be her future: “as she mused the pitiful vision of her mother's life laid ITS spell on the very quick of her being - That life of commonplace sacrifices closing in final craziness.  She stood up in a sudden impulse of terror. Escape! She must escape!” (Joyce numberpage).
Frank represents, for Eveline, an opportunity of salvation: “Frank would save her. He would give her life” (Joyce numberpage) and, perhaps, he will also love her (“perhaps love, too” (Joyce numberpage) but mostly he represent the means to assert hers will to live: “But she wanted to live” (Joyce numberpage).
A first transformation in Evelines’s character happens through the encounter with Frank and the decision to leave: leave for a place “distant and unknown” (Joyce numberpage) where she will be saved.
Along with this intent clarification Eveline successfully become a subject of desire: she imagines a three steps evolution in her life ( the trip, the marriage with Frank, which eventually would lead to the recognition of herself as a subject of law). Eveline wishes she became a person aware of her being, both psychologically and socially, a subject able to "sign a contract". It is just deciding to leave that Eveline will lead to the completion of the path. Notwithstanding, arrived at the pier, Eveline refuses to leave and the positive sequence, set in motion by the encounter with Frank, undergoes a turnaround.
The denial of the will, in fact, reverses the polarity of her life-project from positive to negative. The narrative development is now regulated by a negative trend. The threefold lack she was managing to redeem became more and more conditioning and irreversible.
Knowledge and power connote negatively her character in text: “she Answered nothing” “she kept her lips in silent fervent prayer” “no! I Have Not! I Have Not! It was impossible” (Joyce numberpage). Eveline is denied and does not pass to the next wished step. In this way her transition to a positive path remains suspended at the level of desire. Eveline cannot leave, even though she wants to, or she believed to want. Paralysis, the sense of duty, the fear of having prohibited the access to the role of wife. At this point the triple initial lack of Eveline (his inability to manage both the private sphere that the public, his powerlessness against the father or society, the lack of desires), seems confirmed as an insuperable obstacle, an unbreakable barrier, an ultimately insurmountable limit. Despite her attempt, she was actually trying to overcome her negative condition, Eveline’s failure led her life not to return to the starting point, but to fall below and regress to a stage further negative. It is a regression that leads to a not-knowing and a non-power existence. This change regards the very nature of the character and it is reverberated in Joyce’s creation. For instance, at the level of linguistic representation of Eveline, the subject of the sentence set a transition from female deictic “she would be married - she, Eveline” to neutral deictic “It was impossible” (Joyce numberpage) marking the disappearance of the protagonist, as a subject from the scene of the sentence, as well as a protagonist from the fictional world.
It is easy to find resemblance between the existences created by James Joyce in Dubliners and the real life of many Ireland emigrants during the early years of Twentieth Century.
In the poorly written letters the wishes for a better life, the sense of being lost and the fear for the future is expressed in words that could perfectly fit the thoughts of Eveline: “I ame very strange out Here” (David Fitzpatrick numberpage) says Bridget Burke, who emigrated from Galway, Ireland, to Brisbane, Australia. Eveline’s fears and the incapacity of a clear reading of reality is exactly the same of the young woman who wrote about the strange feeling of being lost, of being unable to “make free with any body”, eventually of being unable to answer to life’s question: “Dear John you wanted to know How do I Like the Country or what sort of people are heare. John that Question I cannot answer” (David Fitzpatrick numberpage)
Bedford Introduction to Literature 10th Ed + Florida Literature. Bedford/st Martins, 2013. Print.
Fitzpatrick, David. Oceans of Consolation: Personal Accounts of Irish Migration to Australia. Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University Press, 1994. Print.
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