Trapped By Guilt In James Joyce's Eveline From Dubliners

1295 words - 5 pages

Eveline:  Trapped by Guilt      

The story "Eveline," by James Joyce is one of indescribable loyalty and extreme choices. Two themes dominate the story: everything good must end, and it is the victim of abuse that often feels guilt. The guilt that Eveline feels forces her to make choices that trap her into a pitiful existence.

            The setting of "Eveline"  is a typical Irish town. Eveline’s mother is dead and her father, though living, has a less than stellar character. He is abusive towards her two brothers and constantly threatens her. Another example of his character or lack thereof is his racist attitude. This is evident when he yells, "Damned Italians!" Then one day, Eveline meets Frank who lives in Buenos Aires. They fall in love and she must make a choice whether to go with him or stay and take care of her father. This is where the internal conflict takes place. The conflict is resolved when she chooses to stay with her father and family.

          The main character of this story is Eveline. She begins as a flat character then slowly becomes round, but in the end, she returns to her stagnant characterization. From the very beginning, Eveline starts out as a helpless guilt-driven person, and she does not change by the conclusion of the story. Frank is another character in "Eveline." He is also a flat character. He truly loves Eveline, and even in the end when she does not go with him, he still calls out to her.

          "Eveline" contains many themes but the central one prevalent throughout is the choices and consequences of life. Everyday, people make decisions, which have an affect on their lives no matter how minute. Eveline must make the decision whether to stay and care for her father and family or to leave and find her own life and love. If she chooses to stay with her father then the consequence is that she would lose the only love she's ever known. She would be trapped. Of course, if she chooses to go with Frank then she would begin her new life with love and happiness. This brings up another theme; everyone is looking for contentment. The ironic part of this is that she looks for fulfillment, but once she finds it, she turns away from the source, Frank.

          Another theme is that everyone wants to feel secure. People want guarantees in life even when none should be needed, as in the case of love. This theme corresponds with the idea of trust. Eveline should trust Frank if she loves him. This means that no matter what, she should know that as long as she is with Frank, she will be fine. However, because of her insecurity, she chooses to stay with her father. She wants what all people want, security. "In her home anyway she had shelter and food; she had those whom she had known all her life about her." That statement illustrates perfectly how Eveline seems to loath change and anything that is alien to her normal routine. In peoples' lives, it is human nature to strive for structure. She must...

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