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World Literature - Accurate Essays

World Literature

The Desire for Escape


i) Introduction———————————————————————————- (2)

-Definition of the storylines of the two stories

ii) Storyline on the story ‘An Encounter’. ————————————————- (2-3)

-How the boys escape from their normal lives seek adventure and fulfillment

-How they meet a creepy old man who is boring and scary

-How the boys decide to go back to their monotonous lives

iii) Storyline on the story ‘Eveline’——————————————————— (4-5)

-How Eveline plans to escape with her boyfriend

-Reasons for the escape

-How she changes her mind and the reasons behind that

iv) Conclusion———————————————————————————– (6)

-A summary and comparison of the two stories











Most of the characters in the stories have a desire for adventure and more so the desire to leave their restrictive and highly repetitive routines. In ‘An encounter’, we see two boys who grow tired of the restraints they get at school and decide to follow their passion in adventure and skip classes to venture into Dublin. In ‘Eveline’, a young woman acting in the capacity of a mother to her own father and her younger brother is facing the tough decision whether to abandon her family, which she swore to take care of to her dead mother, or run away with her lover who promises her a better life. In the two stories, ‘An encounter’ and ‘Eveline’, the protagonists have the urge to leave their current lives and escape from their boring and tiring routines. As the characters view their lives as incomplete, they seek this completion in the other lives that they imagine. The characters pursue a quest to better their lives and end the monotony surrounding them, but their will is discouraged by events that take place along their ways, and their dreams end up shattered.

The imagination of the two young boys in the story ‘an encounter’, that they are in the Wild West, helps them create a bond between them. This bond is based on shared fantasies of freedom and adventure. They also illegally spread the publications in their school in a bid possibly to reach the other students and ignite their thirst for freedom and adventure. The story explains that people’s desires to escape the monotony of their lives and seek a little excitement and adventure eventually prove effortless since the routine in our lives is inevitable. The story also explains how new experiences can be disturbing when they come along. This is observed when the boys venture into the streets of Dublin and in a field, they meet an old man. This old man talks in quite a perverse nature, which scares the narrator while his friend runs off to escape the agony.

The creepy old man and his actions are portrayed as the symbols for routine and repetition and the main idea expressed by the writer is to show that repetition is inevitable even when one encounters new experiences. The old man walks round and round, retraces his steps rather unintentionally and ends up rejoining the boys. He repeats what he says severally and dwells more on the topics that are disturbing to the young boys. He asks if Mahony is caned at school, “He said that my friend was a very rough boy and asked if he did get whipped often at school” (Joyce 24). The boys go to the riverside to seek somewhat of an escape and an adventure but they are tortured in the boredom and monotony of the routine they are trying to escape from by spending a whole afternoon with a very disturbed and scary old man. The title of the story also suggests that the experience the boys had is neither normal in Dublin as a city nor in such an age of a person’s life.

The boys venture out that day seeking adventure and a thrill that they never had in their life. The have rebellion in their heads and they push forward without the fear of the consequences. They are driven by their desires. The expectation they have is not what they find once they get to the field. An interruption in their new world happens to come in form of the old man. He is such an irritating interruption, so irritating that the boys are considering forfeiting their day in adventure. This experience represents the desire of having a new life so much that one ignores the mysteries of the old life. The boys, after the experience they have, prefer to go back to their old monotonous life since the surprises in this new, free and adventurous life are many and unpredictable. They would rather live in the monotony of life and be safe rather than in the adventurous, unknown and rather dangerous life.

Eveline is a young woman who is in quite a dilemma. Her story depicts the negative side of clinging onto the past while at the same time thinking of the future, where both dictate a complete change in ones lifestyle. Her story also depicts the desires of not only the main character but of many women in Dublin who would have wished to leave the monotonous domestic life in Dublin and move to a happy married life elsewhere in the world. Eveline is fully prepared to run off to Argentina with her lover, Frank. She even has goodbye letters prepared to leave for her brother and father to read after she is gone, but as she takes a second look at them, she is arrested by the monotony in her life. The promise she made to her dead mother to take care of the family after she is gone is one of the monotonies in Eveline’s life that she is unable to run away from.

Her father is cruel to her and her brother is rarely at home. This is the second nightmare that Eveline wants to run away from but is unable to. She has the urge and the desire to run away from her monotonies and her prison cell to seek a new happier life as she imagines it. Her mother came to her demise after dedicating her life so much to her family and making so many sacrifices for them, a fate that Eveline strongly believed would befall her if she stayed at home. After hearing a street organ that played a day before her mother’s death, the organ serves as a reality check or a reminder to Eveline of the promise she had made to her mother and she decides to stay and fulfill the promise she made to her mother ignoring the fate that befell her (Joyce 36).

Eveline has a great desire to escape the monotony and agony she experiences in her normal routine but she is over reliant on routine activities and this makes her weak to take the leap inside the boat. This is observed when she is on the docks with Frank, and she decides to do a routine activity, which is to pray, to seek counsel. This action shows that she had not made any decision earlier on. When Frank’s ship starts moving and she remains on the docks with a blank stare, it shows she is afraid of what might befall her in the unknown life she seeks and she feels rather safer in the monotonous and miserable life she lives, though she is not happy. Eveline’s reliance on monotonous rituals is the main cause of her failure to follow her love into the ship.

When Eveline is encircled within a life of repetitive activities, she is left helpless and dumb-founded. The writer does not tell us if Eveline goes back home to her normal routine but clearly shows through her last experience that she is left in a life that is confused and incomprehensible. Her reliance on monotony and routine practices made her lose the chance to a full life with her love Frank. Eveline truly desires and longs for an adventure with Frank on his boat but she never actually realizes her longings. Her story is defined by the desires to escape from an unhappy and miserable life. She has the capacity to make a change in her life and take on the process but the circumstances, beliefs and fear in her life, hold her back and she does not actually achieve her desires. “He rushed beyond the barrier and called to her to follow. He was shouted at to go on but he still called to her. She set her white face to him, passive, like a helpless animal. Her eyes gave him no sign of love or farewell or recognition“(Joyce 37). This shows just how tormented and confused she was and how bad the feeling in her heart was. She was willing to go but her old life had ties that were too strong for her to withstand.

Eveline ventures out that day seeking not only adventure but also romance in her life and a new happier life. She has a mind heavy with thought and a grieving heart. She is angry with her father but at the same time loves him and wants to take care of him. She also loves Frank and is considering a new life with him. She tries to push forward but the fear of the consequences and the change is too overwhelming. Although she is driven by her desires, the expectation she has is not what she gets once she gets to the docks. A hindrance in the achievement of her new life happens to come in form of a street instrument that happened to play the day before her mother died. The hindrance brings back memories of the promise she made to her mother, her sick father, her brother, and her normal life in general. The reality and fear of a new life also present themselves all at the same time. Eveline, after that experience, watches her chance to be loved and have a new happy life go. The surprises in the new life she desired appeared too great for her and her heart also dictated that she stays home.


The characters in both stories are citizens of the Irish capital and they all long for escape and adventure in other countries or in other parts of their country. They wish to start afresh and have new lives. Their desires however are never actually realized. They boys end up back to their normal lives and Eveline’s story does not tell us of her path after the docks. Both of the characters’ dreams are shattered. The impulses that drive the characters to escape from their sad situations define their stories. Their drive to exit one world and live in another of their imagination and making is what inspires both their stories. Their drive to escape also comes from the feeling of being imprisoned in their day-to-day routines. Their drives are well coursed but unfortunately, they are unable to achieve the departure that they had hoped for. They have the illusion that they will have a better life elsewhere. The circumstances that revolve around the two boys and Eveline are what motivate their crusade to escape and at the same time, crash their dreams of ever having the life that they had hoped for.







Works Cited:

Joyce, James. Dubliners. Charleston, SC: BiblioBazaar, 2008. Print.

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