Sunday, 19 January 2020

Desire under the elms symbolism notes , Biblical , Mythological allusions


SYMBOLISM IN DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS

CONTENT

  1. SYMBOLISM MEANING
  2. THE FARM IT'S SYMBOLIC SIGNIFICANCE
  3. THE SYMBOLIC CHARACTERS 
  4. THE WALL IT'S SYMBOLIC SIGNIFICANCE
  5. BIBLICAL AND MYTHOLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE
  6. DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS BIBLICAL ALLUSION
  7. DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS MYTHOLOGICAL ALLUSIONS

Desire under the elms symbolism notes , Biblical , Mythological allusions
SYMBOLISM IN DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS


SYMBOLISM MEANING

Symbolism may be defined as the use of any parts of a play, character, incident setting, to suggest an idea not necessary for the surface story. It is by the use of symbolism that a writer conveys much more that can be ordinarily conveyed. In this way, he imparts depth and richness and universalizes his theme. It is in this way the abstract is, made concrete and the dark is illuminated.

Eugene O'Neill has made extensive use of symbolism in Desire under the elms, the setting is symbolic. We are told “Two enormous Elms are on each side of the house they bend their trailing branches down over the root, but it is not merely nature and particular stony farmland that is thus symbolized, the maternal trees represent also the secret dominance of the female in the action: the dead second wife of the Ephraim Cabot, worked to Exhaustion by her husband, is yet powerful in the life of her son Eben; Ephraim third wife Abbie is strong enough to destroy Ephraim and Eben and the child that is born to Eben and herself. Thus the elms symbolize mother image whose presence is felt throughout the play. They symbolize Eben’s mother fixation and the role of the mother mistress which Abbie has to play towards Eben. In the end, the elms still, stoop in their maternal embrace of the farm but there is no woman there to give them a human and tolerable significance. READ FURTHERDesire under the elms symbolism notes


The farm: it's Symbolic Significance

The farm and the farmhouse are symbolic of emotional and material security which is desired by all, in the play, all the characters require security and stability in their lives and so all desire to possess it.

Old Cabot has himself worked hard and has also made his sons and wife work hard so that the farm may prosper, and he may acquire security and prestige as its possessor. Abbie desires it, as it would give her security against want and drudgery which have been her lot in life. Eben desires it, for by possessing it he would not only enjoys security but would also avenge his mother. The farm also symbolizes the life-denying sterility of puritan ideals. For it warps and twists the lives of those who are slaves to it.

The symbolic characters

The characters too are equally symbolic, old Ephraim Cabot, for Ex- symbolizes the patriarch who ruled. The conflict between him and his three grown-up sons in symbolic of the father-son conflict in primitive societies. In those early days, the growing sons were banished by his father as they grew jealous and rebellious and craved for the fights and privileges enjoyed by him. Often they wanted to that peter, Simeon and Eben have relations with the mistress of their father, and later on, Eben enjoys intimate relations with Abbie. Equally symbolic is their desire to be the heir of their father in everything and the departure of Simeon and peter for California is symbolic of the exile of the sons from the primal horde.


The wall; its symbolic significance

In part II, Scene ii we see both the bedroom of the Abbie and Ephraim and the bedroom of Eben. The wall between the two-bedroom is symbolic of the wall of selfhood which separates and divides one character from another. The wall is symbolic of separateness and therefore, it is in the fitness of things that it should begin to crumble, dissolve and become paper-thin as Abbie and even begins to year passionately for each other and begin to come closer to each other. The melting away of the wall is symbolic of the merging and fusion of their two selves which is now taking place. In this way, their separateness, as well as their close association is well symbolized.

Biblical and Mythological Significance
Edgar F.Racey traces the Biblical and Mythological symbolism in the play. Peter in the play, represents the nature of the rock and he is the first who picks up a rock and he is the first who picks up a rock to cast it at his father's house. Simeon also symbolizes cruelty and stands for the proverb, "An eye for an eye". and in revenge on his tyrannical father, he threatens his new wife. one recalls Jacob's blessing of his sons.

Ephraim Cabot is harshness incarnate and he symbolizes the rocky nature and the spirit of retaliation."He is Ephraim, the progenitor of the tribes of Israel, the archetypal patriarch. His name may be an underlying source of irony by the end of the play, and it is significant that his "fruitfulness" is the greatest source of his hubris, "He is isolated figure 'godlike', hard like a god, even is "Ebenezer"-"store of hope". He hopes to possess the farm and avenge the wrongs done to his mother, then by this biblical symbolism O'Neil has deepened his meaning and universalized his theme.

A similar depth and generality have been imparted by the symbolic use of the Hippolytus-Phaedra-thesis myth. In the Greek story, the father returns with his new wife, who is immediately attracted by her step-son. In the play, the old Cabot is the father, Abbie is the new wife, and she is sexually attracted by Eben, her step-son. Like the step-son in the greek story, Eben, too, responds to the advance of his step-mother.

Like Hippolytus, Eben muses constantly on his mother, who was"Foreign" Thus by using the Greek myth as a symbol, the dramatist has imparted a broad and universal significance to the play. In this way, the insert-motive has been given a mythological background.

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Desire under the elms Novel Theme, Significance, technique of Characterisation Notes




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