James Joyce is widely considered to be one of the best authors of the 20th century. One of James Joyce’s most celebrated short stories is “Eveline.” This short story explores the theme of order and hazard and takes a critical look at life in Dublin, Ireland in the early 20th century. Furthermore, the themes that underlie “Eveline” were not only relevant for the time the story was wrote in, but are just as relevant today.
The major theme explored in “Eveline” is the idea of order and hazard. In society, the idea of order has a lot more positive connotation than hazard. People often quote popular sayings such as “life is not always greener on the other side of the pastor” to indicate this belief. Contrary, the idea of taking chances is seen as dangerous. However Joyce in “Eveline” seems to be pushing the reader to give up their everyday routine, which is order, and instead take chances, hazard, to attempt to create a better life for themself.
Joyce sends this message through his main character in the story which is Eveline. Eveline is an individual stuck in the boring routine of life, but is given the opportunity to take a chance and possibly make a better life for herself by leaving Dublin and going to Buenos Ayres with a man who she loves named Frank. However, in the end, Eveline chooses to not take the opportunity given to her and instead decides to continue with the monotonous routine of her life in Dublin. Many authors of short stories allow the reader to make their own judgments of characters. However, Joyce decides to show his frustration with Eveline at the end of the story and judges her harshly. In fact, Joyce goes as far as to call Eveline a “helpless animal.”
The ending of “Eveline” leads to different reactions from readers. Some readers see the ending much like Joyce and loath Eveline for not taking the opportunity to leave Dublin and better her life. A second group of readers however see Joyce’s reaction to Eveline as uncompassionate. These readers do not blame Eveline for not choosing to take a chance, but rather see Eveline as a sympathetic character. These people look at the decision that Eveline is faced with as very fortuitous, and therefore hold the belief that Eveline cannot be blamed for her decision not to leave Dublin.
Other critics of Joyce have seen his fierce criticism of Eveline as chauvinistic. This argument is based on the idea that Joyce, a male author, does not have the right to criticize a female character, in this case Eveline. Furthermore, there is evidence outside of his criticism of Eveline that some would say furthers the case of Joyce’s chauvinism. For example Joyce was once quoted as saying, “Men are governed by...