Eveline and Juliet: Breaking With the Past. James Joyce’s Eveline, and D. H. Lawrence’s Sun, are classic examples of modernist writing. The two short stories incorporate many of the characteristics of modernism, such as the intentional break with tradition, the celebration of individual strength, and the rebellion against established social views…
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Both the narratives deal with the heroine’s search for self-realization. The central theme of Eveline and Sun revolves round the breaking of connections with the past. Both the narratives deal with dislocation from the past. Eveline and Juliet share a sense of alienation from their surrounding, and desire to escape the rigid confines of their lives, but differ in their attempts to break with the past. Eveline and Juliet both feel alienated from the circumstances of their lives. Both the protagonists are enmeshed in the requirements of the traditional roles dictated by society for women. They experience a sense of isolation and fatigue. Eveline is trapped in a web of domesticity. The death of her mother leaves her as the sole caretaker of the home and her father She is entirely responsible for the needs of her younger siblings. She works hard at home and at the stores. She is abused by her drunkard father, and feels herself ‘in danger of her father’s violence’. 1 She is tired of the constant struggle to extract money from her father for the household expenses, and the paucity of funds. With ‘nobody to protect her’, 2 she is aware of her precarious position and isolation. The harsh treatment meted out to her at the stores further exacerbates this feeling of alienation. She is unspeakably weary with the circumstances of her life. Like Eveline, Juliet also feels that she lives in a hostile environment. Her relationship with her husband, Maurice, is one of bitter animosity and is on the verge of breakdown: ‘They shattered one another’. 3 Juliet is obviously in the grip of post-partum depression: ‘Her silent, awful hostility after the baby is born’ 4 creates havoc on herself and on her immediate family. She resents the burden of her responsibility for the child: ‘the child is a torment of responsibility’. 5 She is tired of the child’s incessant demands on her. She is gripped by revulsion towards her role as wife and mother. It is obvious that she is on the verge of an emotional breakdown, ‘with all her anger and frustration inside her, and her incapacity to feel anything’. 6 In their own way, Eveline and Juliet are on the verge of despair and seek to escape the suffocating confines of their lives. Eveline and Juliet feel the urgent need to escape from the circumstances of their lives. Eveline is bound to an existence of drudgery by her promise to her mother ‘to keep the home together as long as she could’. 7 She is constantly aware of the fact that she is now leading the very same life of unremitting labor, and facing the same threat of physical violence, which culminated in her mother’s insanity and death: ‘that life of commonplace sacrifices closing in final craziness’. 8 There is nothing noble in the sacrifices involved in running a household. It is clear to Eveline that ‘She must escape!’,9 in order to avoid the same fate. Frank is her savior. Under her new identity as Frank’s wife, society will give her the respect she now does not receive. She will leave behind the confines of the past and explore a new life in a new land. Eveline decides to elope with Frank and convinces herself that ‘She had a right to happiness’. 10 Like Eveline, Juliet is also moved by the desire to escape. She is estranged from Maurice: ‘How bitterly they wanted to get away from each other’
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