James Joyce's Eveline: Images of Death

Essay by NesxiDeathCollege, UndergraduateA, December 2007

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The story Eveline is set the late nineteenth century town of Dublin, Ireland. Prospects at that time for Ireland were very dire and many people left searching for better opportunities. The main character, Eveline, is stuck in a stagnate and slowly deteriorating life full of hardship, but is giving a chance to escape by her lover, Frank. The dark setting of Eveline is filled with many symbols of death and decay to show Eveline's comfort with death and her paralysis.

The beginning of the story starts out with Eveline "watching the evening invading the avenue" (pg 89). The use of the word invade shows the feeling of unwelcome she is experiencing for the evening; at which time she will be forced to make the decision to go with Frank or not. Invade usually has a very negative connotation, one of bring death and destruction with the invader, since invasions are typically associated with wars.

Yet she is far removed from this act, the pane of glass literally and figuratively separates her from the outside world. In a sense she watches the life outside and is physically and therefore emotionally removed from it. The only way one can be actually removed from life is through death and so it shows the dead state of her emotions. Her emotional-less state at home is further illustrated when she looks about at the objects surrounding her, they are yellowing from age or have been completely obliterated from existence like the field across the street she once played in. The objects she is so at home with, enough so that she "had never dreamed of being divided" (pg 90) from them, are all old, covered in dust and neglected. The yellowing photograph on the wall of a priest who was a school friend to...