How can I write a thesis for an essay that is a comparison/contrast between the protagonists of "Eveline" and "The Necklace"?  What I have is this: In both stories, the protagonists struggle...

How can I write a thesis for an essay that is a comparison/contrast between the protagonists of "Eveline" and "The Necklace"?


What I have is this: In both stories, the protagonists struggle with a dream of a better life, they attempt to control their destinies, and they find it difficult to change their fates.

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Clearly, both Matilde Loisel of "The Necklace" and Eveline of Joyce's story of the same name both perceive the solutions to their problems as outside themselves when, in actuality, the source of their unhappiness lies within them, as you do suggest in your thesis. But, perhaps you may wish to take a different approach to your "blueprint," or your plan of explanation and proof as your points appear more to reiterate the general statement rather than support/prove it. So, what about explaining Why the women are unable to control their destinies and wording the general statement more as something like this:

Both protagonists of "Eveline" and "The Necklace" are unable to control their destinies in different ways because of their personal attitudes, lack of inner strength, and other inadequacies.

Here are some elements of the characters to consider in this explanation:

1. Both women dream of a better life, but pity themselves, feeling that their lives are a figurative dead-ends. In Joyce's story, Eveline perceives her life as a confining and oppressive, and obligatory. Her Catholic faith binds her to the promises made to the Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque and her dying mother that she would care for her little brother. Unlike Eveline, Madame Loisels limitations are material, rather than spiritual, but she, too, feels trapped. Limited by her lack of a dowry, Mathilde Loisel feels that she has been trapped into her marriage to a minor civil servant and her life is beneath her:

She grieved incessantly, feeling that she had been born for all the little niceties and luxuries of living....She would dream of great reception halls hung with old silks, of fine furniture filled with...intimate friends....

2. Both women lack the strength to change their attitudes about themselves. Eveline, who is "tired" from the abuse of her father, sits at the window smelling of cretonne and watches the darkness "invade the avenue."  Her only way out of this situation is to leave, but she thinks, "Was that wise?" even though she realizes she can escape her "father's violence" and the humiliation of Miss Gavan. As she reflects, Eveline gives evidence of what psychologists term "the abusive personality,"

It was hard work--a hard life--but now that she was about to leave it she did not find it a wholly undesirable life.

Similarly, Madame Loisel clings to her belief in the importance of material things as she sacrifices the happiness of both her husband and herself in her insistence upon valuing the necklace so much that she will not admit to her old friend that she has lost it.  When she encounters Madame Loisel at the Champs-Elysees after having finally paid for the necklace she has replaced, Matilde puts no value in seeing her old school friend other than blaming her for the years of hardship that she and her husband have endured in repaying the debt of the diamond necklace.

3. Even with the opportunity to alter their destinies, both Eveline and Madame Loisel lack the resources of spirit to change. Eveline becomes paralyzed as Frank calls to her to board the ship to Buenos Aires; she fears that he will "drown her" as "[All] the seas of the world tumbled about her heart."  The assertion of psychological freedom is impossible for Eveline.  Like Eveline, Madame Loisel cannot break free, but, in contrast, her possibility of freedom emanates from the ability to value love, friendship, and marriage over material possessions.   



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The Necklace

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