An Essay on Joyce James' Eveline Using Karen Horney's Neurosis Theory

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1904 Words
Date:  2022-10-20

Psychoanalytic theorists have come up with theories to illustrate behaviors. One of the famous behavioral theorists who wrote on behaviors, specifically, the aspect of anxiety is Karen Horney in her Our Inner Conflicts A Constructive Theory of Neurosis. Horney illustrated the theory of neurosis that state that actions, mindset, and personality of people depend on a person's locality, upbringing environment, friends, and thoughts. Horney came up with three neurotic needs that cause one to move towards others, move away from others, and move against others. In accomplishing the three neurotic needs identified by people have creed desire for approval, prestige, power, admiration, achievement, independence as well as exploiting others. Analysis of Horney's theory of neurosis is the best in illustrating Joyce James' Eveline. As one of Joyce's Dubliners, Eveline has a link with the illustration of Horney on the topic of neurotic needs. Characters in Eveline have specific neurotic desires depicted in Horney's theory of neurosis. This paper aims at illustrating how Horney's Our Inner Conflicts A Constructive Theory of Neurosis is evident in Joyce's Eveline.

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Eveline is one of the Joyce James' Dubliners with the theme of escape. The short story is about a 19 years old lady named Eveline who longed to escape from her harsh father as well as running away from the burden of taking care of the family after the death of the mother (Beck 33). Eveline is tired with the stressful life at long and longs for escape from her home. Eveline is ever thinking of her life in the past with the desire of changing the current stressful life of her harsh and drinking father, loneliness following the death of her mother and elder brother Ernest. The young lady is dreaming of how to escape from the shoes of Ireland to another place of comfort. In spite of the challenges at home, Eveline works hard as a shop girl in one of the stores earning seven shillings per week (De Voogd 41). The father sees her as spendthrift and orders Eveline to be giving him her wages.

Eveline falls in love with Frank who was a sailor who promises to take her as a wife. Frank had planned to move with Eveline to Buenos Aires which was an opportunity for her to escape from a stressful life in Ireland (Joyce and McKenna 13). Eveline accepted Frank's proposal for marriage, but she has a second thought. She becomes confused to choose whether to leave his drinking and ridiculing father to a man who might bring happiness in her life through marriage. On the scheduled day for departure to Buenos Aires with Frank, Eveline changed her mind, and she refused to leave Ireland with her fiance (Joyce, Jackson, and Bernard 17). The story ends with the author depicting Eveline as a captive of the past events, though with the desire and opportunity to escape, she is not willing to leave. Therefore, Joyce' Eveline has a depiction of Horney's Our Inner Conflicts A Constructive Theory of Neurosis.

Different characters in Eveline have shown various neurotic values. One of the neurotic needs depicted seen in the story is the need for approval and affection. Eveline as the main character in the story has a neurotic need of approval and affection as she has the desire of wanting to be liked by others, meet the expectations of others, as well as pleasing them. In spite of the mistreatment from her father, Eveline still wants to please him. Eveline is willing to give her father the wages she received as a shop girl. When given an opportunity to run away from the harsh and ridiculing father, she is not willing to leave for Buenos Aires with Frank because of the neurotic need of desiring to get approval from the father as a caring daughter (Joyce 33).

The other neurotic need seen in Eveline is the desire for having a partner to solve problems in one's life. Eveline as the main character of the story has the desire of having a partner who will take over her life. The character stays a lonely life following the death of her mother, elder brother Ernest, and relocation of her childhood friends (Tindall 94). Initially, Eveline was centered on Frank in anticipation that he will give her accompaniment. Eveline's initial willingness to accompany Frank to Buenos Aires shows a kind of fear of losing him as a marriage partner. Eveline had put importance on the desire of having a partner who will solve problems facing her in Ireland (Winch and Horney 79). In spite of her indecisive state of whether to escape with Frank or not, Eveline desired having a lover who will solve life's troubles.

Horney's theory of neurosis is as well evident in Joyce's Eveline through the need of individuals restricting their life within narrow borders. Some characters in the story restrict themselves within narrow borders. For instance, wants to remain unnoticed and inconspicuous in a contented life despite the challenges she is facing at home. Eveline does not wish for materials showing contentment (Horney 61). The character is also making her own needs and rights secondary by accepting to give her wages to the father indicating contentment to live within restricted boundaries of life like any other Irish woman of that time. Also, Eveline restricts herself on the shores of Ireland by refusing to accompany Frank to Buenos Aires. Therefore, Eveline had a desire of restricting her life in the boundary of being an obedient daughter to her father and her late mother as well.

Power as one of Horney's need of neurosis is also evident in the story of Eveline. Mostly, there is the need for power in male characters of the story. A good example was in Eveline's father who was wanted to dominate in the homestead. Eveline's father was using exploitative mechanisms to get power in the family. In most cases, he is ever ridiculing Eveline, and he is ever demanding money from her. There are also incidences when Eveline's father becomes arrogant and fails to buy food for the family. Instead, he becomes harsh and forces Eveline to cater for the family needs. Eveline's father was exploiting Eveline off her rights and freedom as a way of fulfilling his neurotic need for power (Horney 48).

The other neurotic need seen in Eveline as per the illustration of Horney is the desire for independence and self-sufficiency. The neurotic need in an individual is when a person distances from others to live an independent life (Winch and Horney 79). As per the theory of neurosis, moving close to other people has a perception of depending on them. In the short story, we find Eveline having a neurotic value of independence and self-sufficiency by distancing herself from Frank. Eveline refuses to escape with Frank as she viewed it as depending on him. Eveline did not want to leave her shop girl job for Buenos Aires with a man promising to marry her as it meant full dependence. Refusing to relocate to another country also meant association with new people, and since it was a strange land, Eveline was to depend on the locals (Horney 41). Eveline refused to elope with Frank because it will make her depend on him as it meant quitting her job.

Following Horney's theory of neurosis, the reader of Eveline can also identify the neurotic need of perfection. The need for perfection is when an individual strives for infallibility. Eveline's father had a neurotic need for perfection by covering up his imperfections (Allen 365). The father to Eveline had a weakness of irresponsibility, to cover up his flaw, he starts to speak ill of Eveline as a spendthrift lady. Instead of taking care of the family duties as a father, he blames Eveline as a spendthrift.

In satisfying the needs mentioned above, different characters in Joyce's Eveline behaved differently. One of the behaviors was to move towards others to get the satisfaction of the need for getting a partner to solve the problem of loneliness for example (Gitelson 262). Eveline started to move towards Frank with an expectation of getting company following the death of her mother, Ernest, and relocation of childhood friends. Eveline moved towards Frank because of the need for accompaniment and love. Though the father was harsh and irresponsible, to some extent, Eveline was moving towards him in seeking for approval as a responsible daughter.

The other technique applied by characters to satisfy their neurotic needs was moving away from others. Eveline strategically moved away from Frank on the day of escape to Buenos Aires as a way of satisfying the neurotic need of independence for example. As per Eveline, leaving her job for another county meant dependence on her fiance (Brierley 67). As a result, Eveline runs away from Frank because she wanted to leave an independent life.

The other technique used by characters in Eveline to satisfy neurotic needs discussed above is the behavior of moving against others. Individuals who moved against each other wanted to fulfill the neurotic value of power for instance. Eveline's father strategically moved against her by drinking and taking her wages. Fulfillment of the need for power resulted in hostility and exploitation that made Eveline's father appear powerful (Allen 365). Since the father was moving against her ideas and decision, Eveline was to operate under her father's orders. The outcome was a powerless responsible daughter and a powerful irresponsible father.


Conclusively, Horney's theory of neurosis is the best in illustrating Joyce James' Eveline. The short story is about a 19 years old lady named Eveline who longed to escape from her harsh father as well as running away from the burden of taking care of the family after the death of the mother. Different characters in Eveline have shown various neurotic values. Neurotic needs seen in the story is the need for approval and affection, desire for having a partner to solve problems in one's life, restriction within narrow boundaries of life, power, and independence. To fulfill the identified neurotic needs, characters in Eveline are either moving towards others, moving away from others, or moving against decisions and ideas of others.

Works Cited

Allen, Frederick H. "Review Of Our Inner Conflicts: A Constructive Theory Of The Neurosis.." American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 16.2 (1946): 365-366. Web.

Beck, Warren. Joyce's Dubliners: substance, vision, and art. Duke Univ Pr, 1969.

Brierley, Marjorie. "Our Inner Conflicts: A Constructive Theory of Neurosis: By Karen Horney, MD (London: Kegan Paul. Pp. 250. Price 10 s. 6 d.)." International Journal of Psycho-Analysis 29 (1948): 66-67.

De Voogd, Peter. "Imaging Eveline, Visualised Focalisation in James Joyce's Dubliners." European journal of English studies4.1 (2000): 39-48.

Gitelson, Maxwell. "Our Inner Conflicts: A Constructive Theory Of Neurosis. Karen Horney are You Considering Psychoanalysis?. Karen Horney." Social Service Review 21.2 (1947): 262-263. Web.

Horney, Karen Our Inner Conflicts A Constructive Theory of Neurosis. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. 1966, 1992. Print

Horney, Karen. Neurosis and human growth: The struggle toward self-realization. Routledge, 2013.

Horney, Karen. Our Inner Conflicts. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis, 2013. Print.

Joyce, James, and T. P. McKenna. Eveline. Irish Homestead, 1904.

Joyce, James, John Wyse Jackson, and Bernard McGinley. James Joyce's Dubliners. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 1995. Print.

Joyce, James. Eveline. Modernista, 2018.

Norton, Waren. The Neurotic Personality Of Our Time By KAREN HORNEY New York: W. W. Norton, I937." Diogenes 1.2 (1953): 93-99. Web

Tindall, William York. A reader's guide to James Joyce. Syracuse University Press, 1995.

Winch, Robert F., and Karen Horney. "Our Inner Conflicts: A Constructive Theory Of Neurosis". Marriage And Family Living, vol 8, no. 3, 1946, p. 79. JSTOR, doi:10.2307/348790.

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