We will write a custom Essay on “Eveline” by James Joyce Literature Analysis specifically for you
301 certified writers online
The primary scene that will be examined in this paper is the very ending of the story, wherein Eveline refuses to board the ship to sail off into her new life. The reason behind this choice is the fact that the entirety of the story was building towards the event of her leaving, as seen through her various negative thoughts of her present-day life, yet at the last minute, she refuses to do so.
This aspect of the story creates the need for considerable examination since it seemingly builds up to a disappointing ending. It is the opinion of this story that despite all the misery and negative feelings for her current life, Eveline fears to leave what is familiar for something that is unknown.
Understanding Human Nature
First and foremost, it is important to establish the notion that humans, in general, are creatures of habit. This means that despite our constant grumblings regarding the various boring events that happen to us daily, we draw a certain degree of comfort in the mundane and the ordinary. The reasoning behind this is quite simple; aside from humans being creatures of habit, we also tend to fear the unknown.
When presented with something that we do not entirely understand at the onset of encountering such a concept or object, our first immediate reaction is fear. Examples of this are scattered throughout human history and in science fiction wherein it is the fear we have towards the unknown that either causes us to flee or to fight. In the case of Eveline in the story, this feeling manifested itself into a form of fear where she abruptly stayed on the dock instead of going on the ship.
Justifying the Argument
Evidence of this assertion can be seen in the following phrase taken from the story:
“She felt her cheek pale and cold and, out of a maze of distress, she prayed to God to direct her, to show her what was her duty.”
As literary devices, the words “pale and cold” when utilized in conjunction with each other are usually meant to show a degree of fear and apprehension on the individual that they are connected to. The mere fact that she is “asking for guidance” when she has been implying throughout the story that she wants to leave her current life, helps to support the assumption that she got nervous and fearful when presented with the full force of her decision to leave everything that is familiar to her for something that is different and strange.
Other supporting factors that lend credence to the assumption made by this paper can be seen in the various scenes in beginning and middle of the short story wherein Eveline reminisces about everything that she connects to her home, namely her mother, her father, and her brothers”. This action establishes the concept of “familiarity,” which is essential towards developing the needed fear of the unknown.
In the next section, the author then proceeds to present the character of Frank, who will take her to new and strange places. It is this presentation of the unfamiliar right after the familiar that sets the stage for Eveline to get “cold feet” so to speak resulting in her being too fearful of what is different and strange for her to board the ship.
Based on everything that has been presented so far, it is the opinion of this story that despite all the misery and negative feelings for her current life, Eveline fears to leave what is familiar for something that is unknown. The reason why the author chose to depict the story in this manner could be due to his desire to show what it is that stops people from changing who they are or going on an adventure.
Fear of the unknown will crush such desires, and it is only when we overcome such a fear that we are truly free. The basis of this interpretation can be found in the poem “Disillusionment of Ten O’clock” by Wallace Stevens which is full of various metaphors and symbolic interpretations that speak volumes more than what is apparent in the poem. The main message that the author is trying to convey is that many people live hollowed-out lives that lack color and make them seem like the walking dead.
For example, the phrase “the houses are haunted by white night-gowns, none are green, or purple with green rings, Or green with yellow rings, Or yellow with blue rings” is meant to symbolize the fact that the people who live within the house are like the walking dead “cold, lifeless and utterly devoid of life”. The same can be said for the concept of the fear of the unknown as depicted by James Joyce in the story wherein to be stricken by fear to the extent that you become lifeless, joyless and refuse to leave the safety of the ordinary and the familiar is the same as being dead.