Application of themes and techniques in Eveline by James Joyce.
Sandamali. K. P. S
Easturn University, Trincomalee Campus, Sri Lanka
Eveline can be identified as a one short story that comes in the collection of “Dubliners” by James Joyce. Joyce is famous among Irish writers as a person who subjects his nation for many of his creations. His intention behind this text is to write a chapter of the moral history of his race. Here Joyce points out Dublin as the center of the paralysis. Moral paralysis stands for the meaning of loss of will power of the people. It is an important matter to have a discussion about the background of the story before investigating themes and the techniques of Eveline.
Ireland was under the British Empire nearly thousand years. During this period, Irelands failed to unite as a nation to fight against British government to have the independence. They were demoralized by British pressure. The Irish people had no courage to fight back for freedom. This story makes the basement for readers to understand the moral paralysis of Irish people. Eveline as the protagonist of the story plays the role of center for paralysis. Through the title of the story, the writer makes an attempt to denote this moral paralysis and the inertia in front of readers. Eveline is a disyllabic word which can separate as Eve and line. Eve is the shorten form for evening. So the title gives the notion of evening time. It is the twilight time of the day. This paves the way for readers to think seriously about Eveline’s mental landscape which has trapped between light and darkness, life and death like the day at twilight.
These accounts of the story provide the space for readers to accept alienation and inertia as major thematic aspect of the story. And also difficult life set up of women in patriarchal society can be seen as another highlighted concept of the text. Simply alienation denotes the meaning of not belonging to any place. In the story, Eveline represents the alienate character in the text. The text itself shows the protagonist’s relationships to her family, work place and with her lover. But it is evident that she seems to be alienated with all these relationships. She has two brothers with her drunken father. Since she is the only female character of the family, it is easy for her to get love and affection of family. However she fails to have any kind of emotional satisfaction from her family. Father cares her only to exploit her salary. That is the reason for her father to keep her at home.
“latterly he had begun to threaten her and say what he would do to her only for her dead mother’s sake. And no she had nobody to protect her.”
According to the story, this was the place that she had in the house. It is impossible to see any considerable condition in the workplace also for Eveline. The owner of the shop Miss Gavan doesn’t like her.
“Miss Gavan would be glad; she had always had an edge on her, especially whenever there were people listening”
Though it was impossible for Eveline to have love and affection from her family and the work place, in Frank’s world, she had everything with protection. However the problem is she doesn’t do anything to achieve the love of Frank. If her necessity is too much for emotional satisfaction, she is nervous to step forward to gain what she want.
“No! No! No! It was impossible. Her hands clutched the iron in frenzy. Amid the seas she sent a cry of anguish”
The dilemma of Eveline’s mind doesn’t allow her to decide clearly what she should do. So as a result of this she alienates in her life. She cannot find a proper place to make her life alive.
Inertia plays another significant role as the basic theme of the story. As a definition, inertia is the tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged. Here we can say, the writer is dramatized inertia of Irish people through the character of Eveline. Always she cannot take a direct decision because of the dilemma in her mind. She thinks too much. She wants to leave home and start a new life with Frank. But she fails for it. There isn’t anything which she cannot remove in her mind about the home, but she is unable to decide right things. She knows what good thing is for her, though she cannot do it. That is why we say that Eveline represents the Irish nation. They knew that they should gain freedom from British but they did nothing regarding the betterment and the independence of the nation. Finally Eveline prays for god to direct her.
In addition to that difficult life set up of women in male dominated society plays another thematic aspect of Eveline. After the death of her mother Eveline spent most of her life under the ruling of father. She gave all the money for him which she earned. He is the person who decides what she must do. Finally her father tries to decide whether she should associate Frank or not.
“One day he had quarreled with Frank and after that she had to meet her lover secretly”
Now it is possible to have a discussion about techniques that the author uses to convey above themes of the text. The way of using language and word selection is a fact that we must discuss in this story. Here we cannot see many actions to understand the story. Therefore the writer uses another way to reach the feelings towards the reader. To fulfill that idea, the writer uses a poetic language with full of imageries. And it is a straight forward language. The funeral atmosphere of cretonne, dust and brown in the exposition of the story suggests the depressive state of Eveline and the dismal quality of her life and the future death of her dream of escape. In addition to that author uses brief and simply worded sentences to give a better understanding to the readers.
Using words and punctuation marks also should have a discussion on conveying themes. At a glance some words seem that they are uncommon. But they give a vividness to the sentence to capture the meaning properly. Here the writer uses “evening invader” to give the idea about getting dark. In addition to that the placement of “invade” tries to give the idea of entrapment and imprisonment of the mind of Eveline. We can see the term “home” in the entire story. In the second paragraph writer ends the paragraph with the term “Home” and in third it opens with home and add exclamation mark to it. This usage of the term and the exclamation mark give hidden information to the readers about the home. That is the thing we later know that she is going to leave the home. Here the writer mentions
“She was about to explore another life with Frank”
The term “explore” also must have an explanation. Explore gives the meaning somewhat differently from find or search. To find or search it is not necessary to bear much effort. But to explore we must bear a great effort. So it simply conveys the idea that her home and her life is must harder to her. If she has a good life in her home she doesn’t want to explore. In addition to that to tell about her first experience in the theater with Frank the writer uses the word “pleasantly confused”. In some situations the writer missed the comma to give the feelings of Eveline. In this way, when we concern about the language words and using punctuation marks have been very helpful to present the theme.
If we look at the writing and the plot structure most of the writing imitates the way the title character would speak, if she verbalized her thoughts. Except for the first paragraph, he structures plot according to the order of Eveline’s thoughts as they occur. Her thoughts begin in present, then goes to flashback and again to the present to the occasionally. Sometimes she tries to see the future also. How would be the future as she wife of Frank? In this way, using such a plot structure, writer attempts to convey the idea about the inertia or vacillation.
Now we can discuss how the using symbols help to build up the theme of the story. Writer opens the story with highly symbolic scene of Eveline’s sitting at the window.
“She sat at the window watching the evening invade the avenue”
This scene symbolizes an animal in the cage or a prisoner who is sitting behind iron bars waiting for freedom. Eveline also behaves as a caged animal in her home. Her father doesn’t give her freedom. He rules her life. So we can see she is willing to escape with Frank to feel her freedom. Therefore we can say the window is symbolized the entrapment and imprisonment in the mind of Eveline. Though she wants to feel her freedom she cannot do that because of inertia.
There is another sound symbol in the text to represent the broken harmony of the family. That is the broken harmonium. Harmonium is a musical instrument which we used to play in happy moments. Now the harmonium is broken. That simply conveys the idea that there is not happiness with the members of the family. If there members of the family there may not dust in the house. These things simply convey the idea that family members are shattered and there isn’t happiness with them. That is why she is alone at the window. These ideas reflect the state of alienation of Eveline.
In the story, we can see dust twice. These “dudty” and “dusted” all suggest the difficult time of shaking off the past unhappy and unwanted things from the life of Eveline and fear to begin a new life. This reflects the Irish nation of Ireland. In the story Eveline wants to begin a new life with Frank. But she cannot leave her home. Though there isn’t anything to protect and make her happy. So this condition conveys the inertia of Eveline and the Irish nation. In this light we can say these symbols play a prominent role to build up themes of the story.
In the story, the writer uses a strong repetition. If the repetition is a kind of weakness of writing, here the writer uses it to give the feelings of Eveline. She knows that Frank is the only person who can save her. So Eveline tries to convince herself by repeating Frank’s love towards her.
“Frank would save her; he would give her life, perhaps love too”
In this way the writer uses repetition to give the flow of thoughts of Eveline towards the readers. On the other hand it is easy to see that the author uses the stream of consciousness as a technique. The story has written in the form of interior monologue of Eveline. She tells about her past, present even thinks about future also. There is only monologue not the actions.
In this light this paper investigates the employment of literary techniques that the author has used to convey themes of Eveline.