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This comparative essay focuses on the James Joyces Eveline, which was written as a part of his most famous stories collection Dubliners, and the Katherine Mansfield’s ‘Something Childish but Very Natural’ (1914). In these both stories there is a blending of love and emotions, dreams and destinies, various lifestyles, but also suspense, twists and lot of obstacles, causing such unpredictable conclusions of the protagonist’s relations and lives. The following paragraphs will show potential similarities and contrasts of young love occurring in the stories. The aim of this essay is to explore the motivations of the characters and their roles in their relationships.
Regarding ‘Eveline’, it provides a view into a life and mind of nineteen-year-old girl called Eveline, too, who reflects on the seemingly simple choice she faces – whether to leave her hometown Dublin and also her rude and aggressive father and brother, to marry her love Frank, who is a sailor and he promised her better life in Buenos Ayres, or to stay there and keep the promise to her deceased mother to care for the rest of their family.
In short to ‘Something Childish but Very Natural’, this work is in contrary to Joyce’s work conceived from the point of view of teenager Henry and his infatuation to a strange girl called Edna who does not reciprocate his feelings, manages their love rather as platonic and lets Henry in his imaginary world where everything is all right.
In the outset of ‘Eveline’, the point of view seems to be rather out of reality. The girl is sitting in the window, deep in her thoughts, thinking about her present way of life. Essentially, Eveline is a victim of her own manners. Moreover, she has to decide whether she changes her miserable life here and follows her love Frank, or she stays with her alcoholic father and provides him and her brother service. Although she desires “to explore new life with Frank” (Joyce 23), she bears in mind that: “In her home anyway she had shelter and foodÍ¾ she had those whom she had known all her life about her” (Joyce 22). Peter de Voogd also supports Eveline’s character in his work: “Throughout the story, it is Eveline who does the focusing, as she does the thinking and remembering” (47).
Eveline’s relationship with Frank is more based on her vision of better life and freeing of duties and responsibilities for a rest of the family than on the truth love and desire for common future with him. That is already visible in the beginning of the story. Maybe it is selfish, but really childish. Even though, in comparison to the second couple-Edna and Henry, this relationship is truly highly developed. Planning their future or maybe a marriage confirm that, as well as Frank’s willingness to move to Buenos Ayres.
‘”How beautiful she is! How simply beautiful she is!” sang Henry’s heart, and swelled with the words, bigger and bigger and trembling like a marvellous bubble-so that he was afraid to breathe for fear of breaking it’ (Mansfield 610). With regards to Henry’s expressing of his feelings, this suggests that he imagines love as something perceptible and physical. In spite of this fact, Edna keeps shying away and refuses touching. Edna is probably modelled after the author herself: “Maybe Katherine’s early inexperienced sex that led to pregnancy is one of the reasons that her character is always avoiding even a kiss or a handshake” (Sheikhzade 108).
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It is also worth to mention the fact that Eveline’s father forbids her meeting Frank. The apprehension from punishment from her father and her inner conviction that she should stay at home, influences now hypocritical relationship with Frank. As for Edna, in the story there are not mentioned any family affairs which would have an impact on the relationship with Henry. No one can affect her manners, she is dealing on her own. This is the point which the girls differ in. Eveline is matured to consider her choices, but Edna is not.
Another aspect to consider is that in both stories the girls are not able to leave their past behind them-Eveline realizes the promise she gave her mother and she is aware of her duties that are essential for the future relationship. Edna has not achieved adulthood yet, that means she cannot act consciously.
As for the conclusion of both stories, it shows that similarity between the girl’s decisions lies in their realizations. Both girls are confronted with the reality and woken up from their dreams and ideals. And what about their final choices? Eveline leaves Frank in a belief of keeping the promise, Edna sends a telegram to Henry and refuses to rent a cottage and live with him. As is indicated above, what have these stories in common is that boys who desire for the never-ending love are left in the end by their girls.
Finally, for the first sight these two stories may be understood to be quite similar to each other. However, the authors James Joyce and Katherine Mansfield described and also gave an idea of the pleasures and sorrows of young love in really different ways.
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