“Eveline” a Book by James Joyce Essay
Updated: May 21st, 2020
Traditionally, culture defined roles for men and women. Gender played a significant role in determining the respect that one was accorded in society. It is important to note that this has not been completely eliminated from our society to date. In this regard, it is not peculiar to find that there are certain chores that women only can attend to while others are set aside for men. Gender inequality has been the order of the day in many societies with women being regarded as being inferior whenever they are compared to men. However, despite the obstacles placed in women’s paths to prosperity, there are those women who have outdone men in various aspects. In the article titled Eveline, James Joyce has tried to depict various roles of women in society. These roles contradict or concur with how society has treated women historically.
To begin with, women have been taken as the people who should take care of children and do some other house chores. Women were relegated to be only useful in the kitchen and bearing children. Even in the most modern societies nowadays, women are the ones who take care of every day to day activities of the house. Any mistake done by the children is mostly blamed on women. Society regards moral decay among children as a result of failure in the part of women to play their role of educating the children. In the article, this is depicted when it is Eveline who is left with the task of taking care of her younger siblings when her mother passes away. She has to practically ensure that everything about the young children’s affairs is done as expected. Moreover, the role of women in society is illustrated when the duty of purchasing groceries is left to Eveline yet there are others who could her. In addition, Eveline was the one who dusted the house each week.
Traditionally, society assumed that women would not be able to do any other economic activity that would increase income of the family. As a result, all family income came from men. On the contrary, Eveline is depicted as a hard working lady who besides doing all the house chores has a store where she runs her business. This depicts a woman as being very responsible and hard working. Moreover, contrary to the opinion that women cannot provide for the family, it is seen that Eveline uses all her income in the house while the men of the house only give part of what they earn.
Society also demands that women have to leave their parental houses and get married. This is what makes Eveline contemplate of getting married to Frank. She knows that she has to leave the house one day albeit this might take time. Nevertheless, women are not trusted with making any good decision. In this regard, while men are allowed to make their decisions regarding whom they want to marry, society expects that ladies should get approval from their fathers or other male members of the family.
This gives Eveline’s father powers to restrict her from seeing Frank and having anything to do with him. In order to marry Frank, Eveline has to run away with him. Furthermore, men are taken to be superior to women and anything they say should be taken as final. Both in the traditional and in the contemporary society, women are expected to be obedient to men at all times. This is depicted when Eveline plans to elope with Frank but backs out in the last minute following her father’s instructions that she must stop her relationship with Frank.
Women are also portrayed in the article as being in the center of every family. While the men are always out doing their jobs, Eveline has to balance between her business and family matters. The promise she makes to her mother that she will keep the family together illustrates that women are vital for unity of a family. She is always at the house early enough to ensure that nothing goes wrong. In a nutshell, life of her family revolves around her. This role is in agreement with the way society has defined women since historical periods. Society has always branded women as the source of livelihood in the community.
When the boat that is supposed to take Eveline and Frank away is about to leave, Eveline starts having doubts about the whole issue. She has the young children who will suffer without her. She has to fulfill the promise she made to her late mother of keeping the family together. After weighing the options available to her, she makes a decision of not leaving. Much as this may seem to be influenced by the advice given by her father about the sailors, it depicts that women are capable of making their own decisions contrary to how the traditional society viewed women. Nothing hinders her from leaving with Frank. It is only through her intellectual capacity that she is able to choose the best option taking into consideration all the issues at stake. It is, therefore, depicted that women can be able to participate in activities that require intellectual engagement.
Women are usually restricted in what they do. Men can limit the extent to which a woman can engage in a certain activity. Eveline’s mother was always being instructed by her father. Tradition demands that night fall is not supposed to get women outside their homestead. This is why Eveline is very concerned about time. When she goes out for shopping she has to be quick to avoid getting late. Even when she is seated looking at the road, she is time conscious. Nevertheless, men can do as they please and be out as long as they deem fit. Eveline’s brother goes to work at a far place and stays there yet her father does not ask anything about that. This is contrary to the contemporary society’s view. Nowadays women have engaged in various careers some of which require them to work night shifts. This has changed the limit as to how long women can stay out of the house.
Traditional roles that were given according to the gender of a person have changed over time. Nowadays, both men and women can engage in any activity without much restriction. Though there are some traditional views on women that still persist to date, many views that were retrogressive have been shed off. Women have increased democratic space in the contemporary society compared to traditional one. Nevertheless, still women are expected to handle all domestic chores including taking care of children. They hold their families together and help in providing for the family.
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