The work of Jacques Lacan enables us to understand why, in James Joyce’s short story “Eveline,” the young woman refuses to board the ship to elope with her lover; the short story, in turn, enables us to better understand the Lacanian paternal metaphor and its function. This second aim is particularly pertinent in the case of Lacanian theory, reputedly opaque and, with the inclusion of algebraic like formulae, appearing divorced from actual human beings and their emotions. Examining Lacan’s concept in conjunction with a close reading of the story, two phrases, the father’s and the mother’s, can be seen as depicting the failure of the paternal metaphor. This in turn accounts for the last-minute refusal to embark, thereby resolving the enigma posed by the story and also connecting a Lacanian formula with an emotion: the anguish in the final scene being the consequence of the deficit of the metaphor.


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pp. 33-48
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