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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hope and Suffering in Joyce's "Eveline"

In Joyce’s “Eveline,” the protagonist prioritizes her escape from the oppressive reality of her life at home. Eveline reveals that “…in Buenos Aires […] he had a home waiting for her” (Joyce, 29) revealing Eveline’s desire for escape rests on her desire for a home. However, while weighing her options as to whether emigrating to Buenos Aires would really be better for her, she undercuts her fantastical desire for escape by exposing her true motives.“Home! She looked around the room reviewing all its familiar objects which she had dusted once a week for so many years, wondering where on earth all the dust came from” (Joyce, 27). This displays Eveline’s perspective on her hard life at home with her father. She elaborates when considering her decision to leave, ultimately paralleling her oppression with that of her mother’s. By identifying with her home as a burdensome world of endless work, Eveline reveals her feelings of under appreciation and lack of sentimental attachment with her home. “It was hard work-a hard life- but now she was about to leave it she did not find it a wholly undesirable life” (Joyce, 29) This revelation contrasts her earlier conclusion that she lacks a home, adding significant influence on her ultimate decision as whether she should leave or not.
“…in her new home, in a distant unknown country, it would not be like that…[t]hen she would be married- she, Eveline. People would treat her with respect then” (Joyce, 28). First, Eveline tells herself to emigrate with Frank on the grounds that she desires a home. However, since she now realizes she already has one and it’s just a hard life, she realizes her desire for escape rests on her ideal that “[p]eople would treat her with respect […]” (Joyce, 28). Ultimately, when Eveline must make the decision whether to leave with Frank or not, I believe she realizes her fantastical perspective isn’t rational, and a hard life isn’t an undesirable one. She realizes as her mother did that “the end of pleasure is pain” (Joyce, 31), that ultimately it is the human condition to suffer. Preceding Eveline’s contemplation, she cites that “everything changes” (Joyce, 27) exposing her deep seeded impression that even her life in Buenos Aires could change for the worse and leave her underappreciated and oppressed. However, on the same notion that “everything changes” and her previous revelation that her life at home isn’t “a wholly undesirable life,” I believe that Eveline decides to stay on the grounds that life will be hard and filled with work no matter what country is home and that “everything changes,” insinuating that there is always hope for better days at home.

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