Trapped by Guilt in James Joyce's Eveline from Dubliners

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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 f...

... middle of paper ... wishes for "do-overs" but once a choice is made, there is rarely ever a second chance.

The story of Eveline is a very common occurrence in society today. The themes contained in "Eveline" are also very prevalent in the every day lives of people. Many people are abused each day and yet it is still the victim that feels guilty. That is how Eveline feels, and that is what drives her to stay. The same parallel is evident in abused wives. Though they are battered and mistreated, they have the compulsion to stay as opposed to leave. Another theme in the story is that everything good ends. "Eveline," in short is an insightful comparative into the common happenings of peoples' every day lives and the momentous choices that affect each life.

Works Cited:

Joyce, James. “Eveline.” Exploring Literature. 2nd ed. Ed. Frank Madden. New York: Longman, 2004.
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