Tragic Passion, Romantic Eloquence, and Betrayal in Eugene O’Neill’s Desire Under the Elms

Safi Mahmoud Mahfouz


This paper investigates the themes of tragic eroticism, romantic eloquence and betrayal in Eugene O’Neill’s Desire Under the Elms. The paper is an in-depth analysis of the monumental tragic consequences of the incest passion that flares between a coquettish, seductive woman and her stepson, and the romantic rhetoric both use while entrapped in their sexual ecstasy. The paper traces the moves and breaths of the two infatuated lovers before, while and after they commit the sin of incest, and attempts to measure their romantic rhetoric against such incestuous lust. The two lovers’ incest takes place in an ominous house teeming with family tensions, intense lust, hatred, and betrayal. Keywords: Desire Under the Elms; Eugene O’Neill; passion; eroticism; rhetoric; eloquence; incest; betrayal

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