What role do domestic spaces in Dubliners play to represent abuse?

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In Dubliners, the character Eveline suffers through psychological and emotional abuse by her father, who is an alcoholic. She is in charge of her father's business, which used to be her mother's duty before she died. Eveline's father restricts Eveline from having suitors, especially Frank, who Eveline is in love with. Frank and her father represent what her life could be and the life she doesn't want anymore, respectively. For this reason, her father tries to prevent Eveline from seeing Frank.

Within this context, the domestic spaces in which Eveline is confined represent a "prison of the mind." She is not only restricted from venturing away from her father's domain physically, she is also trapped in that space by the male-dominated Irish society of the time. Escaping from these domestic spaces is the equivalent of running away from her father's abusive behavior.

Likewise, in the story "The Boarding House," the house represents being trapped in a cyclical tradition. In this case, the tradition is arranged marriage. The boarding house is managed by Mrs. Mooney. She is away from her husband, but she is trapped in the boarding house itself, as it is her livelihood. She tries to marry off her daughter, Polly, so that Mrs. Mooney can focus on the business. Mr. Doran, the man arranged to marry Polly, is self-conscious about marrying her, as she is "unpolished." However, he is pressured by social norms and tradition to go ahead with marriage.

"The Boarding House" is about three characters who are stuck in a specific space physically, but also socially. While this is not a blatant example of abuse, it is detrimental to the mental and physical health of anyone who suffers from such circumstances.

James Joyce's aim with Dubliners was to highlight the dark side of society during his time, even though the dark things he wrote about were considered the norm. In essence, all of the stories in the novel are about domestic spaces, as Dublin is portrayed as one giant room in which all the characters are trapped.

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