James Joyce often portrays women as insignificant background characters because of the role of women during the period he wrote, but there are a few instances when a woman is essential to the story. “Araby”, “Eveline,” and “The Death” all are those cases where a woman is indispensable to the story.
In “Araby”, there is only one female character. As the love interest, Mangan’s sister Mangan’s sister prompts the narrator to travel to the Bazaar. She symbolizes the familiarity of Dublin, as well as the hope of love and the mysterious allure of new places. In some ways, the story is all about her, yet we do not learn her name. The narrator idolizes Mangan’s sister and sees her as an object of his desire more than a human. Joyce rarely describes Mangan’s sisters’ appearance, and since we do not ever learn her name, we can assume that Joyce implies that she is a minor character, with not much significance.
In “Eveline”, there are two pretty important female characters. This is a rarity in Joyce’s work since he mostly writes men as main characters. The main character, Eveline, faces a decision of whether or not she should leave with her love, Frank, or stay where her father and home are. Eveline wants to go with Frank because she thinks once she gets to Argentina; she will be respected more as a wife than a single woman. During this time period, women were seen as more valuable as a wife than an independent woman. She has a hard time making a decision because even though her father is abusive, she needs to take care of him implying that as a woman, she feels she has to take care of everyone. Frank loves Eveline and would have treated her right if she had gone to Argentina with him. In the end, Frank does not really matter to the story and Eveline completely ignores him, and "gave him no sign of love or farewell or recognition.” (Mays, 2013) Even though Frank treats Eveline a lot better than her father does, she still chooses to stay with her father. Her father abuses her and shows her no value as his daughter or as a woman. “In "Eveline" domesticity is clearly associated with details, with metonymy and synecdoche.” (Ingersoll, 1993)
In “The Death”, Gretta, who is Gabriel’s wife, does not get treated with the respect she deserves in the beginning. She basically cared for Gabriel’s mother until her death yet she was only...