Desire Under the Elms


In Desire Under the Elms, by Eugene ONeill, many uses of both biblical and mythological allusions can be seen. These allusions help add depth to the plot of the play by linking the play to other similar, well-known stories. Three of the best allusions are seen in Cabots talk about how God is a strong god, his talk about God being in the stones, and his telling Eben that he is blind as a mole.

Cabots talk about God being a strong god is important to the story. He tells about how hard he had to work to make the farm a good place to live. When yew kin make corn sprout out o stones, Gods livin in yew. This quote is an allusion to how if you work hard and believe in God you can do whatever you want. The quote is important to the story because it helps develop the character of Cabot and it tells the reader what kind of man Cabot is. It shows that he is strong, tough, and has a strong belief in God.

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Another important allusion can be seen when in the same part of the story as the previous one. Now, he is talking about how the farm is his and how he worked so hard to make it what it is. He then gives an allusion to the story of Peter building his church on the rock in the Bible. He says Gods hard, not easy! Gods in the stones! Build my church on a rock out o stones an Ill be in them! Thats what he meant t Peter. This quote refers to Peters story in the Bible. Peter first built his church on the sand but then the water came and washed it away so he then rebuilt it on the rock to keep the water from getting to it. Building it on the rock was a much harder job so the moral of the story is that you have to work hard for what you want. This story fits what Cabot is saying well because he is talking about how hard he had work to build his house. He had to remove all of the stones from the ground and then use them to build his house. The point of this quote is to show that Cabot is a hard worker.

The last allusion is a mythological one instead of a biblical one. This allusion can be seen when Cabot is talking to Eben about getting married to have someone to share the farm with. The Eben mentions that Cabot never shared the farm with anyone, Cabot blames that on Ebens mothers parents saying that they were trying to steal the farm from him. He says Its ye thats blind – blind as a mole underground. He is trying to tell Eben that he is wrong and that he did not understand the situation. This quote is an allusion to the plays of Oedipus and the character of Tiresias. Tiresias was a blind prophet who was very helpful to Oedipus. The allusion is somehow ironic because, in the stories of Oedipus, Oedipus always listened to what Tiresias told him because Tireias was very wise and Oedipus trusted him. The irony is that Tireias symbolizes Eben and Oedipus symbolizes Cabot but Cabot never listens to Eben or trusts what he has to say. This quote is important because it adds much needed depth to the plot by linking it with ancient mythological stories that are widely known.

Eugene ONeills usage of biblical and mythological allusion in Desire Under the Elms is very important to the play. The allusions add depth to the plot and also make the play more interesting. The two biblical allusions helped develop the characterof Cabot. They both showed that he was a hard worker and that he had a string belief in God. The mythological allusion helped add depth to the play by linking it with the story of Oedipus. The usage of allusions is a good writing technique that Eugene ONeill used well.


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