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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"Wait, this story is about Emigration?": Feminism in Joyce's "Eveline"

It was nearly impossible for me to read this story without noticing the feminist undertones, but was Eveline really a feminist? Certainly, she seemed to have feminist ideals. Early on in the story, the narrator states that "What would they say of her in the stores when they found out she had run away with a fellow?" and "She would not be treated as her mother had been" (Joyce 28). All of the information that Joyce gives the reader seems to point to Eveline wanting to leave her home so that she can be free from the oppression of her father and the subservience her mother had suffered. As she continues to contemplate leaving, she thinks to herself, coaxing herself into defiance, "Escape! She must escape! Frank would save her. He would give her life, perhaps love too" (Joyce 31). It is interesting that she relies on a man for escape from her situation, yet also contains fully feminist beliefs as she will marry for convenience. Joyce seems to play with the whole role of feminist thought and assertion of women's rights, saying that a true feminist is one who has both the mindset and takes action. In this case, based on the information given by Joyce, it appears that Eveline is not a true feminist, despite her tendencies toward feminism, because she makes the decision to remain subordinate because of her fear of the unknown.

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