What are the aspects of contemporary society that captured the attention of James Joyce in "Eveline"?

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iandavidclark3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

For such a short story, James Joyce's "Eveline" grapples with many vital aspects of contemporary society. In this post, I'll focus on the societal aspect that I find to be most prevalent in the story: the status of women in Irish society. 

The major focus of "Eveline" is the oppressed status of the protagonist, Eveline. After the death of her mother, Eveline has been forced to take on a dead-end job in a shop, care for her younger siblings, and endure the tyrannical authority of her father. She is unable to escape and make a life of her own, although she does get the opportunity to leave with a man, a sailor named Frank. In describing Eveline's life, Joyce is also describing the role of women in the contemporary Irish society of his day. Based on Eveline's oppressive existence, it's plain that women in Irish society were worked hard and had few personal rights. Indeed, it seems that women had little independence apart from the men in their lives, as Eveline's only means of escaping her family involves relying on Frank. While Joyce's portrait was a response to Irish society in the early twentieth century, his description of the oppression of woman is still very relevant, as women in contemporary society are still struggling for equal rights and freedom.

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