Dissertation > Literature > Literary Theory > Countries in Literature

An Analysis of Desire under the Elms from a Feminist Perspective

Author DengShuang
Tutor ZhangShunFu
School Sichuan Normal University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Eugene O’Neill Desire Under the Elms feminism patriarchy feminist consciousness
CLC I712.073
Type Master's thesis
Year 2012
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Eugene O’Neill who won both Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize is one of the greatest American playwrights. He wrote more than fifty plays. Desire Under the Elms is one of his masterpieces. O’Neill created three different female characters, demonstrating his feminist consciousness. This thesis analyzes the suffering of the three female characters from a feminist perspective, showing the other status of them, and their physical and psychological oppression from men. Reading the play carefully, it can be found that the relationship between Cabot and his family is that of the oppressor and the oppressed. The origins of women’s oppression are the economic dependence and patriarchal ideology. As a husband, Cabot who owns the property is the representative of patriarchy. So he oppresses his three wives. The three female characters have different degree of feminist consciousness. The first wife lacks feminist consciousness. The second wife has some feminist consciousness and she is rebellious. The third wife Abbie who dares to resist the patriarchal society is different from the female characters in that society. She is an independent and rebellious female who dares to choose the marriage. She dares to speak out what she wants and pursues the true love even though giving up everything. It can be said that Abbie is a female image who has feminist consciousness.This thesis argues that O’Neill expressed his feminist consciousness by presenting his awakening women who try to liberate themselves from struggling with men. In a patriarchal society, although women are oppressed, they struggle for their liberation. Some of them succeed when the others fail. This thesis not only makes some comments on the heroines’characters but also lets readers understand the appealing of women who are under the oppression in a patriarchal society from a feminist perspective. At last, the author tries to give some suggestions and enlightenments to people in modern society.

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