Write an essay in which you identify the theme in a novel and analyze how the theme is developed.

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dule05 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Before you pick and analyze a theme in a novel, make sure that you choose a relevant theme and that you support it by including some important textual evidence.

I will pick James Joyce’s collection of stories – Dubliners. 

One of the most important themes in Joyce’s Dubliners is characters’ desire to escape from their restricting everyday routine and their inability to do that. The choice to escape from an oppressive routine which the characters in Dubliners have available to them is presented as an illusory, destructive and futile one. Indeed, once the protagonists are faced with the unknown world which they consider to embrace, they feel puzzled and intimidated by it because it threatens to stifle their true self by nullifying all the traditional values and beliefs they have lived and stood by. Therefore, they ultimately realize that they must live in that suffocating, but safe world of familiarity.

To illustrate this theme of escape, we will briefly examine one of the stories in the collection – “Eveline.” It is shown that Eveline’s reasons for escape are related to her desire to be away from her abusive father and the huge weight of responsibilities of her domestic life. She cannot escape from her world of familiarity and routine because the new world, embodied by Frank, the man she likes, does not guarantee that she will find the fulfillment and security which she desperately needs. Moreover, she thinks the new world, symbolized by Frank, would metaphorically drown her:

All the seas of the world tumbled about her heart. He was drawing her into them: he would drown her. She gripped with both hands at the iron railing.

We realize, at the end of the story, that Eveline's desire to escape becomes an illusory and futile one.