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Comment on the characterization of Eveline from the story "Eveline" by James Joyce?

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behandla | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 27, 2009 at 3:57 AM via web

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Comment on the characterization of Eveline from the story "Eveline" by James Joyce?

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kc4u | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted October 25, 2009 at 1:55 PM (Answer #1)

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Eveline is one of Joyce's most enigmatic of female characters from Dubliners. She is caught in a flux between stasis and displacement, her oppressive father and her lover Frank, who is a splendid promise of an elsewhere, the place from where dust comes. Though she has often been called the spirit of Ireland in a very geopolitical way and thus she cannot leave, I would read her unreadability in terms of her gender identity. "Eveline" is not a militant feminist text but does show the problematic of a feminine liberation from the order of patriarchy. Eveline glimpses an escape from patriarchy in the promised Argentine world with Frank and it is her mother's condition that creates the double-bind for her. Her mother told her to keep the home and yet her last incomprehensible words urged a story of desperate escape. The reason behind Eveline's decision not to go with Frank, I would say, is her realization that it would only relocate her in the order of male mastery. There would only be a replacement of the father with the husband but mastery would hardly cahnge. Her refusal to leave is prompted by this epiphanic realization at the end and it comes from her very own experiencible but unsymbolified Feminine Desire (Jouissance) which is represented by her placid facial expression at the end, into which Frank can hardly read anything. The feminine desire always remains unfathomable to the language of patriarchy. Perhaps, that is the point of overthrow for her.

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