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Realistic and Symbolic in "Eveline" by James Joyce
James Joyce has always been broadly regarded as a main exponent of ‘the young children of a fragmented, pluralistic, sick, weird period’ as Nietzsche known as the artists of the time (Bradbury, p. 7). His career as an artist may possibly be regarded as a ‘journey from realism to symbolism’ (Daitchies, p. 66) for which he chose Dublin as departure as effectively as destination. As a result of his want to exhibit the city’s inhabitants’ suffering, he developed Dubliners. Even even though this work was initially produced by commission as a collection of short stories to be published in a magazine with the purpose of describing rural Irish life for a basic audience, Joyce realized that he could give his stories a unified pattern. As a result, by giving them an all round purpose he bound them around certain themes, symbols, strategies and even characters.
We have to bear in mind that Dubliners is the beginning of Joyce’s transition from realism to symbolism, and as such, its structure is partially defined in terms of every strategy. The systematic and increasing use of symbols establishes relationships among ‘superficially disparate elements in the stories’, i.e. significantly of the composition remains invisible till the significant symbols in which it defines itself are recognised (Ghiselin p. 101). In so far as Dubliners is a clear example of Joyce’s commencement of the previously talked about journey, some realistic elements in the stories which intermingle with the symbolic ones are worth mentioning. The characters’ want to escape and their paralysis weakens their impulse and potential to move forcefully. This inability to act accordingly in response to Dublin-connected plights behaves as a realistic as effectively as a symbolic reference: ‘sheer physical inaction of any sort is a somewhat crude indicates of indicating moral paralysis’ (Ghiselin pp. 102-103). The seemingly lack of plot is in reality a movement towards an epiphanic revelation of an impasse, ‘a sudden spiritual manifestation, whether or not in the vulgarity of speech or of gesture’ (Bradbury p. 168) and, unfortunately, the paralysis marking its termination.
It is apparent that the author did not attempt to masquerade the raw reality of Dublin citizens. On the contrary, ‘he wanted to mediate between Ireland and the globe, bust largely to explain Ireland to itself’ (Kiberd p. 334) in the course of a political period which did not grant any hope or choice to its individuals. In addition, it is worth saying that in each and every story there seems a patent message: difficult as the characters may possibly attempt to escape from the routine and inertia of their lives, they in no way handle to do so despite the epiphanic moments of intensity and revelation they experience. Eveline presents a case in point when she isolates herself from the immediate atmosphere and keeps revolving around memories of her life, alternatively of taking a step forward and coping with the straining situation.
Brewster Ghiselin concludes that ‘the unity of Dubliners is realised, ultimately, in terms of religious photos and suggestions, most of them distinctively Christian’ (Ghiselin p. 105). Needless to say, epiphany is a transcendental revelation which Joyce actually took from religion an applied to art. Nevertheless, generating an alternative interpretation of Joyce’s perform, it is the intention of this paper to shade some light on the integration of the stories, though devoting unique focus to 1 of them in specific, in terms of political and social pictures and suggestions as we have taken into consideration that Joyce taps not only into religious images and suggestions but also into political and social ones.
Consequently, in an ambitious try to develop the alternative interpretation introduced above, we have selected ‘Eveline’ to be analyzed at two distinct levels. On the a single hand, we will take the story as the clearest illustration of ‘movements and stases, a technique of substantial motions, countermotions and arrests’ (Ghiselin p. 103), at a realistic level. On the other hand, at a deeper symbolic level, we will think about the representation of Ireland’s political and social scenario in the essence of the protagonist, whilst alluding to other stories anytime they serve to the objective.
From a rather realistic point of view, paralysis, as a common theme in Dubliners, finds Eveline facing a dilemma: no matter whether to keep home and preserve the family collectively, therefore fulfilling her dead mother’s final wish or to elope with Frank, her lover, to an unknown destination. John Blades argues that Eveline’s inability to react is as extreme as to avert her from leaving her residence in the first location. Such a theory posits that, in reality, Eveline by no means leaves for the harbour. Consequently, she posts a double-layered instance: at a physical as well as at a mental level. Despite the fact that she lives with a domineering, unfair and abusive father, she is mentally unable to move away from the handful of warm memories she has from her childhood. Instead of reacting to the dreadful circumstance she is immersed in, she is frozen by a sudden feeling of fear to the unfamiliar, hence renouncing the possibility of a new life due to the fact as she sees it, it may also be a supply of danger ‘…All the seas of the world tumbled about her heart. He was drawing her into them: he would drown her. She gripped with each hands at the iron railing.’ (Joyce, p. 34)
As a very first attempt to disclose the symbolic-realistic analogies we assume there arise all through ‘Eveline’ we would like to introduce our readers to some parallelisms among the characters in the story and what they truly represent according to our analysis. We aim at claiming that Eveline embodies Ireland her loved ones, Great Britain her father, King Edward her mother, Charles Parnell her home, Dublin and Frank, James Joyce.
Let us then spend interest to the reality that the protagonist that gives her name to this story is an adolescent. In contrast with an elder England in terms of importance inside Great Britain, Ireland looks like the juvenile sister of the other nations which belong to the same kingdom (or loved ones). It has been largely proved that the youngsters of any household must struggle to make their personal way against the benumbing influence of the older generation. ‘‘Eveline’ makes clear how powerful the force exerted by the family can be in Dublin property life’ (Blades p. ten).
Similarly, we have identified it attainable to compare her father, who makes her work and keeps her wages, to King Edward and the representatives of Parliament who have been exploiting Ireland by refusing to acknowledge their fight for land and for independence. In addition, Terence Brown describes King Edward as a womanizer: has Eveline’s father also abused her sexually? The answer to this question will stay purposefully silenced by Joyce. ‘… the possibility arises that the young author was playing a mischievous joke in utilizing this name [Eveline] and possibly implying sexual abuse as a subterranean theme’ (Brown, p. 254). In addition, it will at some point connect with Ireland becoming portrayed as a feminine character, masterfully depicted in the figure of a harp in ‘Two Gallants’.
Not far from the porch of the club a harpist stood in the roadway, playing to a tiny ring of listeners. He plucked at the wires heedlessly, glancing swiftly from time to time at the face of every single new-comer and from time to time, wearily also, at the sky. His harp too, heedless that her coverings had fallen about her knees, seemed weary alike of the eyes of strangers and of her master’s hands. (Joyce, p. 48)
Traditionally in poetry and ballad, Ireland has not only been symbolised as a harp, but also as an abused or wronged woman, a legendary figure that the tragic narratives of the country’s history has generated. In agreement with Terence Brown as soon as once more, we think about that this decision of imagery in texts where women frequently bear the brunt of male oppression in the sexual sphere, supplies an equivalent of imperial domination in the political. (Brown, p. xxiv)
It also aids link Eveline to Ireland the fact that Joyce openly considers Dublin the clearest instance of the paralysis that controls the complete nation. As it has been described above, Eveline personifies an superb example of paralysis herself. Correspondingly, it is precisely Dublin the city from which she can not escape. In addition to, we have also commented on the ambiguous aspect that she may possibly not have left her home to adhere to Frank to the harbour. ‘Joyce has presented an indicting picture of the city as a prison home, plagued both by want and inertia.’ (Blade, p. 38) The description of Eveline sitting at the window at the quite beginning of the story goes hand in hand with an image of enclosure, at a realistic level and an allegorical image of the restrictions and fixations of life in Dublin at a symbolic 1, especially taking Eveline’s home as the representation of the city itself, so much so when the protagonist is a woman. ‘As men and women and kinds, women are both disenfranchised and impotent, the limits of their existence determined by man. They are repeatedly depicted as powerless, passive and silent.’ (Blades, p. 48) It is our conviction that apart from getting women’s only reality at the time, this description also applies to the helpless submission to the Empire that Joyce criticises about Ireland.
An important and influential figure in the story is Eveline’s mother. It is due to her will that the young lady finds it impossible to leave her home. Apparently, it had been her mother’s activity to keep the family members together until she became insane and died ‘uttering incomprehensible or nonsensical Irish’ (Blades, p. 19) after producing her only daughter ‘promise to hold the home together as extended as she could’ (Joyce p. 33). By fulfilling her mother’s last want, Eveline will keep attached to a violent father. At the symbolic level, and taking into consideration another recurrent theme in Dubliners – that of the dead affecting the living – we understand that the dead mother’s wish represents the intention to continue with Charles Parnell’s movement of home rule and religion tolerance. This image reappears in detailed depiction in ‘Ivy Day at the Committee Room’, where Parnell hovers the entire occasion even soon after his death. We can also appreciate how the absence of such robust personalities – namely Eveline’s mother and Parnell – exert influence on the behaviour of the ones remaining in this planet and at the very same time figuring out their failure at the continuity of their tasks. There is no hope, and these who had produced higher expectations are now gone, therefore reinforcing the stasis of these who have stayed.
…and if there are gone beyond recall let us hope, at least, that in gatherings such as this we shall nonetheless speak of them with pride and affection, nevertheless cherish in our hearts the memory of these dead and gone excellent ones whose fame the world will not willingly let die. (Gabriel’s speech in ‘The Dead’, Joyce p. 204)
Eveline has stayed and she has been left with a dismal legacy: her bleak atmosphere and her weak personality. The fact that Joyce describes an ‘Ireland frozen in servitude’ (Kiberd, p. 334) is clearly mirrored in the hollowness of Eveline’s identity. This uncertainty about her identity corresponds to the quest for national identity that Ireland underwent after Charles Parnell’s death. Whilst Irish citizens struggled to define what it meant to be Irish by attempting to reinvigorate the Irish language and culture, we find Eveline babbling in the midst of a decision in between abandoning her land and following her desires.
The young protagonist of the story is presented with a choice. Nevertheless, can such a situation be regarded as an selection? In fact, the dilemma she faces is but a selection among two lives of male exploitation, as it is not clear in the story how frank is Frank. ‘The truth is that she needs a person else, now Frank, who could redefine her persona’. (Blades, p. 21) For that reason, we come to our last parallelism, this getting Joyce’s presence in the story through Frank. We believe Frank embodies some of Joyce’s tips since what he does is to encourage Eveline to make a step forward. He takes a threat, he seeks a alter of air (suggested by the name of the city he has chosen to depart to) and he is willing to take his lady along with him. It is widely known that Joyce left Ireland with each other with Nora Barnacle, who was to turn into his wife later on. This episode in his life can be related to the realistic aspect of his stories since ‘the entangled innocents whom he uses for his heroes are all aspects of his conception of himself’ (Ellmann, p. 176). What is a lot more, Joyce exiled himself from Ireland to seek a modify of air as nicely as Frank. Nonetheless, the reality that Joyce enhanced his life by abandoning his homeland could be equalled to the moment the narrator describes Frank’s departure: ‘He rushed beyond the barrier and known as to her to follow. He was shouted at to go on but he nevertheless known as to her’ (Joyce, p. 34) Nothing else is said about Frank. We do not know what became of him, so is the case with James Joyce. To what extend did Joyce in fact portion with Ireland? Why did he consistently come back to Dublin in his performs? Did he ever succeed in generating himself a real exile, rather than just a physical one particular?
All these queries lead us to a final analysis worth mentioning as it is closely connected with the topics developed above. With regards to the intention of this paper, we have explored the characters in the story in relation to their allegorical which means. The author of Dubliners purportedly chosen the characters’ characteristics and their atmosphere, showing no innocence in his choice. Eveline is a ideal depiction of Ireland and all her relationships harmonically fit this country’s relations, except for a single character that appears in the last story of the collection. It has been asserted that Joyce added ‘The Dead’ at a later date as an apology for getting been so harsh towards Dublin, ‘although he never altered his conviction about the traps and paralysis of Dublin’. (Blades, p. 53)
It is in ‘The Dead’ that Eveline’s counterpart seems in order to redeem Ireland. Such a character is Miss Ivors, who represents the Irish Ireland – the independent and self-adequate nation. Her name could be related to ivy, which leads us straight to ‘Ivy Day in the Committee Room’ – ivy being a symbol of Parnell’s memory. What is far more, she does not seem doomed to fall as Eveline is because ‘She signifies a new type of woman. With an independence of mind […] She refuses to be pinned down and ultimately escapes from the world of the dead with a sardonic flourish’ (Blades, p. 49). At a symbolic level, Miss Ivors carries a subtle promise for Ireland.
As a conclusion, it could be stated that a simplistic parallel symbolism can not be pursued. Therefore, in an try to reveal the symbolic which means behind Joyce’s characters we chose to do so by way of political and social aspects. Bearing in thoughts that Dubliners was the author’s transition from realism to symbolism, we think about to have achieved the goal of exposing the selected characters’ roles as properly as their representations.
• Joyce, J. (1914). Dubliners. UK: Penguin Books
• Brown, T. (1992). In Joyce, J. Dubliners. UK: Penguin Books
• Blades, John. How to Study James Joyce. UK: Macmillan
• Daitchies, D. ‘Dubliners’. In The Novel and The Contemporary World. Chicago Press
• Ghiselin, Brewster. (1956). ‘The Unity of Dubliners’. In Beja, M. (ed) (1973) James Joyce and a Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. UK: Macmillan
• Ellmann, Richard. (1959). ‘The Background of ‘The Dead’’. In Beja, M. (ed) (1973) James Joyce and a Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. UK: Macmillan
• Kiberd, D. (1996). Inventing Ireland. The Literature of the Contemporary Nation. UK: Vintage.
• Bradbury, M. (1989).The Contemporary Planet. UK Penguin Books.
• Woody, T. W. & F. X. Martin (eds) (1984) The Course of Irish History. Cork: The Mercier Press
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