Describe the character of Eveline in Dubliners.  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Eveline is a 19-year-old girl who finds life in 20th-century Dublin unbearable. She is a dutiful daughter, who takes care of her family, especially her father, who is often drunk and abusive. Eveline oscillates between the two choices she has -- she can either stay and enjoy the comfort and familiarity of her home or she can run away from her oppressive and stifling daily routine with her lover, Frank, to Argentina and embrace the unknown.

Throughout the whole story, Eveline struggles to make a choice. Even if we dare assume that she has made a choice, she quickly proves us wrong, letting us into her world of thoughts and doubts. On the one hand, she cannot let go of the obligations and promise made to her mother that she would keep the family together no matter how hard it is. On the other hand, she knows that staying in Dublin would mean that she would be robbed of her dreams and happiness:

She stood up in a sudden impulse of terror. Escape! She must escape! Frank would save her. He would give her life, perhaps love, too. But she wanted to live. Why should she be unhappy? She had a right to happiness.

However, as she becomes aware that her new life would not necessarily bring her the fulfillment which she desperately needs, she decides to stay. Just like other characters in Dubliners, Eveline is the victim of emotional and spiritual paralysis which enveloped Dublin at the time Joyce lived.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial