Connor Johnson
Mr. Kearney
Modern Irish Lit. P (6)
12 February 2016
Love versus Love
In a dust filled attic room, Eveline contemplates life, choices, and love. Love is a spectrum, where varying degrees can drastically change a person’s feelings and actions toward a person. There are three main types of love: love of self, physical attraction, and love of family. James Joyce depicts the inner battle between the powers of love in his short story Eveline, the fourth story in Dubliners. In most people, love is a battle taking place in the subconscious of the mind determining one’s path in life. The power of love between family members no matter how strenuous the relationship is will still overpower an emotional or physical love.
Throughout Dubliners, main characters are predominantly male, and the story Eveline is the first emergence of a female protagonist. However rare this occurrence is, James Joyce doesn’t change her, or make her any more different than other stereotypical women of the time, timid and indecisive.
“She had consented to go away, to leave her home. Was that wise? She tried to weigh each side of the question. In her home anyway she had shelter and food; she had those whom she had known all her life about her. Of course she had to work hard, both in the house and at business. What would they say of her in the Stores when they found out that she had run away with a fellow? Say she was a fool, perhaps…” (Joyce 28).
Love is able to play such a crucial role in this story because of Eveline’s femininity. The heart and love symbolically are feminine symbols, that women can control better than the men. Eveline wouldn’t have been nearly as effective with a male character. On the contrary, having a male main character would make the story about being weak and unmasculine. Eveline portrays the battle between loves in her confliction between father and lover.
In Eveline’s daydreams about a younger life, her mother plays the important boundary and intertwining between the family love and sexual love. On the one hand, she kept the father happy with their physical and emotional relation. “Her father was not so bad then; and besides, her mother was alive” (Joyce 27). And on the other created the family love aspect that held everyone together. When her mother symbolically leaves, physically represented by her death, everyone she formerly knew proceeded to leave. “She and her brothers and sisters were all grown up her mother was dead. Tizzie Dunn was dead, too, and the Waters had gone back to England. Everything changes” (Joyce 27). Family Love and attachment play a large role in any close knit community, but emotional connections and what seems like “true” love can jeopardize the family grouping.
Frank in Eveline is the tempter that tries to pry Eveline from her not so amazing home life. “She was about to explore another life with Frank. Frank was very kind, manly, open-hearted. She was to go away with him by the night-boat to be his wife and to live with him in Buenos Ayres” (Joyce 29). She was infatuated with him from the beginning, pushed towards him by the far from perfect love she is receiving from her father. “She sometimes felt herself in danger of her father’s violence. She knew it was that that had given her the palpitations.” The abuse she receives from her father almost pushes her over the threshold, shown as the boat in the story. The hesitation is her natural pull back to the family system. “No! No! No! It was impossible. Her hands clutched the iron in frenzy. Amid the seas she sent a cry of anguish (Joyce 31).
Eveline is ready to return to the nearly hellish conditions she lives in because of family. Her father beats her, but he is still her father. The kids she takes care of aren’t hers. But they are under her household; therefore, family. Her personal needs or wants are canceled out by the needs of the family system. She may not love being with them but she must love them as family. The love inside a family stays together until death breaks a person away.