What is Eveline's interior monologue in "Eveline" by James Joyce?

Quick answer:

The interior monologue of James Joyce's "Eveline" is expressed by "free indirect speech." When we say "interior monologue," we're usually referring to what a character is thinking and feeling. Moreso, when we bring in a bulky term like "free indirect speech," we're talking about a narrator that can dip into their character's psyche and emotions whenever they want. That's what happens in "Eveline". The narrator tells the story while unveiling Eveline's intense inner anguish.

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James Joyce's short story "Eveline" is a visceral piece of writing. When we read it, it can feel like we’re inside her head.

This is impressive, especially when you consider the viewpoint of the story. Is it Eveline telling the story or is it an omniscient narrator? It seems to be an omniscient narrator, as that all-knowing power is what allows the narrator unlimited access to her "interior monologue" (i.e., her psyche and emotions).

There is a technical term for this kind of writing, and it's free indirect speech. You might also know it as free indirect discourse, free indirect style, or, if you're French, discours indirect libre. Basically, this technique allows the narrator to dip in and out of the main character's thoughts and feelings whenever it wants.

There are many striking examples of this shift. One that we find particularly compelling happens near the end of the story.

Eveline is about to leave her window and meet Frank. Keep in mind, Joyce, has two duties: he must tell us what is going on the outside—what Eveline is physically doing—and what she's feeling on the inside. We see Joyce manage these two responsibilities when he writes "She stood up in a sudden impulse of terror. Escape! She must escape!"

On the outside, she's just standing up quickly. On the inside, she experiencing intense emotions. Notice the exclamation points and the urgency of "must." For us, it's jolting and galvanizing. It shows how passionate free indirect speech can be. It’s almost as if the narrator is her.

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James Joyce’s “Eveline” is a story that follows the frustration and desire of a young woman, the titular Eveline, as she desires to leave her father and family behind. The story employs a very interesting form of narration to tell the story. The majority of the tale is written in omniscient third-person to outline the feelings and motivations of each character, but it slips into the mind of Eveline to give greater detail on her thoughts and feelings.

This type of interior monologue is known as free-indirect discourse, and it allows the narrator to focus on a single character to flesh out their mind and personality. By doing this, we get a deeper look at the experience of Eveline as she shows her frustration and sadness at feeling trapped with her father and inability to move away with the man she loves. The transition flows almost imperceptibly between the omniscient point of view and the thoughts of Eveline to center the story around her and take a deeper look at her character.

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As the other answer said, Joyce uses free indirect discourse in which the voice of the omniscient narrator slides almost imperceptibly into Eveline's thoughts. We can see how this works in the following passage:

Few people passed. The man out of the last house passed on his way home; she heard his footsteps clacking along the concrete pavement and afterwards crunching on the cinder path before the new red houses. One time there used to be a field there in which they used to play every evening with other people’s children.

The first sentence is the narrator's voice, as is the second sentence up until the semi-colon; then we begin the slide into Eveline's thoughts. By the last sentence of the passage, we are clearly inside Eveline's subjective point of view as she remembers her childhood.

Joyce repeats this pattern over and over, starting with an objective statement and then drifting into Eveline's thoughts. This interior glimpse at her feelings causes us to feel pain and frustration as a paralyzed Eveline changes her mind at the last minute and does not go off with Frank.

What we learn from her interior monologue is background on her harsh life in Dublin with her father. We come to understand her deep longing for escape from a narrow existence with few prospects.

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Although "Eveline" is written in third-person, James Joyce employs a technique known as free-indirect discourse, which allows the narrator to channel the title character's thoughts and emotions. Joyce employs this technique throughout Dubliners.

In "Eveline," the title character is struggling with her decision to leave her father in Dublin so she can run off with Frank, a sailor who has promised to marry her and move her to his home in Argentina. However, Eveline is duty bound to her father and paralyzed by her mother's final words to her, which roughly translated from their Gaelic, are "at the end of pleasure is pain." So, it's with these in mind that Joyce taps into the internal monologue that Eveline experiences. 

The entire story consists of two settings. The first setting is where this interior monologue occurs as Eveline is sitting at her window "watching the evening invade the avenue." She sits pondering her life in Dublin, from her childhood, to her home and whether or not she made the right decision "to go away." She thinks about the things her home in Dublin with her father provide her, such as "shelter and food." However, she thinks of the bad things about Dublin: her abusive boss and her abusive father. She imagines what it would be like to be a married woman in "Buenos Ayres." She says that with her marriage, "People would treat her with respect then." Finally, she remembers her mother's final words and decides she must escape. Frank, she believes "would save her."

In the second setting, the narrator no longer uses free indirect discourse and removes himself, for the most part, from Eveline. The narrator describes how Eveline didn't leave with Frank, but stayed on the dock "like a helpless animal."

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