The Theme of Escape in James Joyce’s Dubliners
In James Joyce’s Dubliners, the theme of escape tends to be a trend when characters are faced with critical decisions. Joyce’s novel presents a bleak and dark view of Ireland; his intentions by writing this novel are to illustrate people’s reasons to flee Ireland. In the stories “Eveline, “Counterparts”, and the “Dead”, characters are faced with autonomous decisions that shape their lives. This forlorn world casts a gloomy shadow over the characters of these stories. These stories are connected by their similar portrayal of Ireland. They clearly represent Joyce’s views on people’s discontent with Ireland.
In the story “Eveline”, Joyce’s main character Eveline has ambitions to escaper her life in Ireland. For the main part of the story she is waiting in front of a window ready to leave for a new life with her lover Frank. “She stood up in a sudden impulse of terror. Escape! She must escape” (29). This illustrates the theme of escape by showing her dissatisfaction with her life in Ireland. She is reluctant due to a promise made to her mother to stay and take care of her family. Being an independent person she longs to leave Ireland however, she decides to stay at the end of the story with complete awareness of her decision. “NO! No! No! It was impossible. Her hands clutched the iron in frenzy” (34). She could leave her father and live a happy life instead she lives this displeasing life. Eveline is overwhelmed by her unending struggle with her will to leave.
Eveline is compelled by her responsibility of taking care of her father. In this story, the main antagonist is her father who is a shameful parent. He creates an unpleasant living environment for his daughter. Joyce states in the story, “she sometimes felt herself in danger of her father’s violence” (30). He belittles his daughter and is unappreciative to her contributions to the family. This is the main reasoning behind Eveline’s desire to escape her life and Ireland. Eveline states, “The promise to her mother, her promise to keep the home together as long as she could” (32, 33). She unselfishly chooses her priorities and commitments over her own happiness and future.
In the story “Counterparts”, the main character Farrington is irresponsibly leading his life to disaster. Farrington is a careless employee who neglects his work and disrespectful towards his supervisors. “Mr. Alleyne began a tirade of abuse, saying that two letters were missing” (86,87). Farrington is creating unnecessary stress in his life; his relationship with his family is not to promising. Joyce states, “Now, you’ll let the fire out the next time! said the man, striking at him viciously with a stick” (94). He is abusive towards his son and desires relations with other women. Farrington is constantly creating an unpleasing life for himself; he has made the decision to be irresponsible...