A Study of Settings in Desire Under the Elms毕业论文_英语毕业论文

A Study of Settings in Desire Under the Elms毕业论文

2021-04-07更新

摘 要

《榆树下的欲望》是美国剧作家尤金·奥尼尔的最后一部自然主义剧作,其栩栩如生的人物刻画、跌宕起伏的故事情节以及发人深省的主题思想,使《榆树下的欲望》成为美国戏剧史上的经典之作。作为美国著名表现主义文学代表作家,奥尼尔的文字粗犷沉重,直白洒脱,不落矫揉造作的俗套。其作品的背景也多是市井乡间,他试图以物质繁荣与精神荒原的对比催醒人们反思。

本论文旨在从背景设置的作用这一角度入手,主要从背景设置对人物塑造、情节发展和深化主题的作用这三个方面,细致而全面地分析尤金·奥尼尔的代表作《榆树下的欲望》体现出的真情实感和现实意义,让读者对《榆树下的欲望》和尤金·奥尼尔独特的艺术风格有更深入的了解。正是由于奥尼尔创伤性的叙事手法和现代性思想,《榆树下的欲望》才在美国戏剧史上占据了里程碑式的地位。

关键词:尤金·奥尼尔;《榆树下的欲望》;背景;人物塑造;情节发展;深化主题

Contents

  1. Introduction ———————————————————————————–1
  2. Demonstration ——————————————————————————–4

2.1 Landscape as a method of characterization———————————————-4

2.1.1 Ever-changing sky: Ephraim’s formidable spirit————————————–4

2.1.2 Towering elms sheltering the house: Eben’s Oedipus complex———————6

2.1.3 Reopening living room: representation of Abbie’s maternity———————–7

2.2 Different time as a way of plot development ——————————————–9

2.2.1 Gloomy hours before sunrise: Eben’s quarrelsome family————————–9

2.2.2 Dawn: Eben and Abbie’s struggles and hesitation ———————————-10

2.2.3 The first light of morning: Abbie’s self-atonement for lust and brutality——–11

2.3 Different sites as revelations of principal themes ————————————-12

2.3.1 Stone wall: the captivity and oppression of patriarchy and religion ————-12

2.3.2 Farmhouse: a grave and cage for women ——————————————–13

2.3.3 Wooden gate facing the road: an obstacle to liberty ——————————–14

  1. Conclusion ———————————————————————————–15

Works Cited ————————————————————————————-17

Bibliography ————————————————————————————18

A Study of Settings in Desire Under the Elms

  1. Introduction

Eugene Gladstone O’Neill (1888-1953) was a famous American productive playwright and Nobel laureate in Literature. He was born in an Irish family and rarely obtained his parents’ attention because of their theatrical career. His alcoholic father and drug-addict mother prepared him nothing but tough childhood and exhibition of a failed marriage. He rarely experienced affection between family members and was doomed to repeat his parents’ tragedy. He was admitted to Princeton University in 1906 and was expelled a year later due to violation of school rules. From 1909 to 1911, O’Neill traveled to South America and Africa, panning for gold, being a sailor, a small clerk, and a homeless man. Being a mariner on a merchant ship for one year provided him with materials for his future writing. When he fell ill, he read the Greek tragedies and the plays of Shakespeare, Ibsen and Strindberg whose masterpieces influenced him significantly. His study in institutions of higher education made contributions to his later fame. While he had won high reputation for his plays, his family life was in a mess. His three wives had never really walked into his heart, and his relationship with his children was on thin ice. His young daughter, eighteen-year-old Oona O’Neill, was determined to marry Chaplin, who was in his fifties, and the two family members were completely isolated from each other all their lives. He wrote on, leaving the world monumental works with provoking thoughts.

In the early stages of his trial, O’Neill wrote a series of realistic nautical dramas such as Thirst (1913), Fog (1914), Bound East for Cardiff (1914), Where the Cross Is Made (1918). His early works put emphasis on descriptions of conflicts between human and nature to portray arduous struggles which illustrates the struggle of human and fate. Although reckless and stubborn the protagonists were, against ruthless and unalterable destiny, they became respectable in nautical dramas. In 1820s and 1830s, O’Neill’s works gradually matured and gave full play to a talented playwright’s creativity, such as Beyond the Horizon (1918), Anna Christie (1920), Desire Under the Elms (1924), and Mourning Becomes Electra (1931) and so on. These masterpieces of realism all reached an unprecedented height in characterization, plot setting, dramatic conflicts and themes. Due to their profundity and sentiments, Beyond the Horizon (1918) and Anna Christie (1920) successively won the Pulitzer Prize. And this was also the period when O’Neill utilized different techniques to create works such as The Emperor Jones (1920), The Hairy Ape (1922), Lazarus Laughed (1926), Strange Interlude (1928, Third time Pulitzer Prize), Days Without End (1933) and his only well-known comedy Ah, Wilderness! (1933), a wistful re-imagining of his youth as he wished it had been. In 1936 he received the Nobel Prize for Literature after he had been nominated that year. In the later period (1939-1953), his tendency to be realistic is clearly reinforced but not in the simple repetition of the early stages. His fourth Pulitzer prize-winning autobiographical work Long Day’s Journey into Night (1941) combined modernism with realism to reveal deep tragic conflicts through ordinary scenes and words. After long-term pause, O’Neill’s now-renowned play The Iceman Cometh was produced in 1946. The following year’s A Moon for the Misbegotten failed, and it was decades before it was considered as one of his best works.

Desire Under the Elms is a 1924 drama written by Eugene O’Neill. Like Mourning Becomes Electra, it signifies an attempt by O’Neill to adapt plot elements and themes of Greek tragedies to a rural New England setting. Ephraim, over 70 years old, is a stubborn old farmer who has accumulated his fortune by painstaking work and exploitation on others. He has three sons with his two former wives and feeds them with endless backbreaking toil. Eben, Ephraim’s youngest son, extremely hates his father for his brutal treatment to his mother and property capture. He steals money from his father and exchanges renunciation of succession with his two elder brothers. The two brothers leave the farm to pursue wealth in California ultimately. The ambitious and beautiful stepmother Abbie seized Eben’s heart and they commit incest in a house under the elms. Eben is infuriated by the birth of the new baby both for the immoral love and the failure of revenge. Abbie commits infanticide to demonstrate her love which eliminates suspicion and hatred. Eben calls police in a furious and shocking condition but immediately regrets in Abbie’s confession. Although Eben and Abbie will accept legal sanctions for lust and commitment, they are not afraid of punishment. Ephraim will go on with his lonely life with the stone house and the farm. Desire Under the Elms is inspired by the plot elements and characters from the Euripides play Hippolytus.

Desire Under the Elms has been the focus of public attention since its debut in Greenwich village, and has attracted many literary lovers to study it from various perspectives. The study of O’Neill and his works reached its peak stage in the 1980s when literary criticism from foreign scholars mainly focuses on sociology, feminism and psychology. It offers a successful example to Thunderstorm (1933), written by the famous Chinese playwright Cao Yu and caused a heated discussion in domestic academia. The deliberate absence of female images as well as the symbolic significance of the landscape has also attracted the attention and research of many scholars, and these studies have given readers a deeper understanding of the maternal absence and aberrant family in this play. In addition, both foreign and domestic scholars have done a variety of researches on Desire Under the Elms in terms of narrative structure, aesthetic criticism, feminism and ecology.

Based on the existing research, this thesis focuses on the analysis of unique meanings of different settings such as landscape, time and sites in Eugene O’Neill’s famous play Desire Under the Elms. This thesis consists of three parts. The first part gives an introduction of the author’s life experiences and his works, especially the play Desire Under the Elms and the literature review about the play both at home and abroad. The second part focuses on illustrating how diverse settings, including landscape, time and sites, serve as a way of characterization, help to further plot development and reveal important themes in Desire Under the Elms. The third part concludes that various settings appropriately reveal strong emotions of the characters and have great significance in revealing O’Neill’s motive of his artistic creation. In short, different from most researches on Desire Under the Elms, this thesis focuses on the features of the external settings with an emphasis on gender relationships and the characters’ psychology. It deepens readers’ understanding of Desire Under the Elms and Eugene O’Neill’s tragic thoughts.

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