PreambleNobel Laureate Eugene O’Neill’s plays are influenced by psychoanalytical theories of the 19th century and they boldly disrobe people’s civilized appearance and probe their inner psyches. His well-admired play Desire Under the Elms (1925) alludes to the ancient Greek legends about Oedipus and Phaedra and the modern Freudian theory known as the Oedipus complex and adopts mid-nineteenth century New England farm life as the setting for a tragic tale about adultery, incest, and infanticide. The play penetrates deep inside the inner states of its dramatis personae to dissect the motives and nature of human beings.
From a careful reading we can comprehend that the inner workings of all the major characters such as, Cabot, Eben and Abbie reveal different sorts of human nature. A great sequence of psychological realism pervades the play through some instances like the fierce hatred of Cabot and Eben, Eben’s desire for revenge upon Cabot, Eben’s Oedipal instincts, Abbie’s motives in marrying old Cabot and having a son, etc. Let us see in detail how aptly the playwright portrays various psychological implications in this play: