Desire under the elms

Desire Under the Elms: Drama of the Absent Hero By Majeed M. Mudhin Instructor: College of Education ; University of Anbar Ever since Ancient Drama, the absent character has played an important part in the dramatic construction of the play. Many dramas are set around the quest for such an absent character. If we take, for example, the dead father in Oedipus Rex and the ghost in Hamlet, we see that they are all driving forces of the play’s dramatic action. However, the absent character is not necessarily dead. It is true that he never appears, but his implied presence acts as a dramatic catalyst. He acquires the focus of attention for the other characters and is central to the play’s plot as well. As far as Eugene O’Neill’s Desire Under the Elms is concerned, he takes it further to the extent that the absent cahracter becomes the most influential one in his tragedy. Eben’s mother is dead, yet she is present and haunting in almost every incident in the play. It is worth noting here that O’Neill’s absent character differs from his predecessor in certain facets. Firstly, O’Neill has chosen for his play a female not male character to take the role of the hero which is rare especially in Ancient Drama. Secondly, his absent character has a sense of reality unlike Ancient Drama which is woven by imagination. Thirdly, as a modern dramatist, O’Neill depends heavily on psychology and classical patterns of tragedy in creating his character. In doing so, the character drawn took another dimension which is so deep and comprehensive. No doubt, the twentieth century witnessed drastic developments in the fields of ideas. This goes back to the revolution in depth psychology in the late nineteenth century that has affected both the interpretation and creation of literary works. Scientific explanations became more subtle and difficult for the layman to understand. The orderly world that had been presented to the reader in Elizabethan and even Victorian literature is superceded…

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