Religion and Human Behavior in Eugene O’Neill’s Plays

Asim Karim, Nasim Riaz Butt


This study highlights role of religion in human behavior with reference to O’Neill’s plays Mourning Becomes Electra and Long Day’s Journey into Night. It has been argued that the role of religion in Eugene O’Neill’s plays is problematic and disrupts normal human behavior and relationships. In Mourning Becomes Electra, it creates a terrible conflict between religious forces that seek control of human thoughts as well as emotions and desire for liberation from this control. Sexual drives in the play represent individual forces of liberation from authoritarian religious control. The conflict, however, has regressive psychic and emotive effects on the personalities and creates severe psychic and familial disintegration. In Long Day’s Journey into Night, O’Neill treats this conflict much more subtly, avoiding eroticism as a metaphor of liberation from religious control. The play also dramatizes antithetical processes of adulation and aversion from religion in the familial context in the play The conclusion has been drawn that the role of religion in O’Neill is thoroughly on the negative side and is free from dynamic role in healthy personality development.

Key words: Modern American drama; Religion; Human behavior and personality development


Modern American drama; Religion; Human behavior and personality development


Bower, M. G. (2003). “Color Struck” Under the Gaze: Ethnicity and Pathology of Being in the Plays of Johnson, Hurston, Childress, Hansbury, and Kennedy. London: Prager.
Bogard, T. (1988a). Contour in Times: The Plays of Eugene O’Neill[Revised Edition]. London: Oxford University Press.
Bogard, T. (1988b). The Unknown Eugene O’Neill: Unpublished and Familiar Writings of Eugene O’Neill. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Bowra, C. M. (1944). “Some Conclusions”, Sophoclean Tragedy in Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Dodds, E. R. (1951). The Greeks and the Irrational (pp. 31-32). Berkeley: University of California.
Frejka, T., & Westoff, C. F. (2008). Religion, Religiousness and Fertility in the US and in Europe. European Journal of Population, 24(1), 5-31.
Gardner, H. (1971). Religion and Literature. New York: Oxford University Press.
Goldhill, S. (1992). Reading Greek Tragedy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Greenwood L. H. G. (1936). The Shape of Greek Tragedy. Greece & Rome, 6(16), 31-40.
Hunt, M. H. (2002). In the Wake of September 11: The Clash of What? The Journal of American History, 89(2), 416-425.
Huntington, S. P. (1996). The Clash of Civilization and the Ranking of the World Order. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Krstovic. (2006). Literature Resource Center. Gale. University of Maryland Baltimore County. 86, 356-381, Retrieved from
Karim, A., & Butt, N. R. (2011). Ethical Crises in O’Neill’s Modern Theatre: Some Dimensions. Arts and Social Sciences Journal, 32, 1-17.
Karim, A., & Butt, N. R. (2011). Mothers in Eugene O’Neill’s Strange Interlude and Long Day’s Journey into Night. Literary Broad Research and Innovation.
Karim, A. (2010a). Eugene O’Neill’s Concern with Sexuality and the Behavioral Disorders. Studies in Literature and Language, 1(1), 38-49.
Karim, A. (2010b). Trauma of Subjective Semory in Strange Interlude and Long Day’s Journey into Night. Asian Social Science, 6(9), 156-167.
Khan, M. M., & Azam, A. (2008). Root Causes of Extremism. Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, 1(20), 65-86.
Nietzsche, F. (2004). Birth of Tragedy, in Aesthetics and the Possibility of Art Analytic Tradition: An Anthology (143¬159). London: Blackwell.
Nagata, J. (2001). Beyond Theology: Toward Anthropology of “Fundamentalism”. American Anthropologist, New Series, 103(2), 481-498.
O’Neill, E. (1982). Mourning Becomes Electra in Eugene O’Neill’s Plays. Modern Library Edition, 2, 5-184.
O’Neill, E. (1955). Long Day’s Journey into Night. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Pizzato, M. (1998). Edges of Loss: From Modern Drama to Post Modern Theory. Anarbor: The University of Michigan press.
Shaughnessy, E. L. (2000). Down the Nights and Down the Days: Eugene O’Neill’s Catholic Sensibility. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c)

Share us to:   


Online Submission


How to do online submission to another Journal?

If you have already registered in Journal A, then how can you submit another article to Journal B? It takes two steps to make it happen:

1. Register yourself in Journal B as an Author

Find the journal you want to submit to in CATEGORIES, click on “VIEW JOURNAL”, “Online Submissions”, “GO TO LOGIN” and “Edit My Profile”. Check “Author” on the “Edit Profile” page, then “Save”.

2. Submission

Go to “User Home”, and click on “Author” under the name of Journal B. You may start a New Submission by clicking on “CLICK HERE”.

We only use three mailboxes as follows to deal with issues about paper acceptance, payment and submission of electronic versions of our journals to databases:;;

 Articles published in Studies in Literature and Language are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC-BY).


Address: 1055 Rue Lucien-L'Allier, Unit #772, Montreal, QC H3G 3C4, Canada.
Telephone: 1-514-558 6138 
Website: Http://; Http://;;

Copyright © 2010 Canadian Academy of Oriental and Occidental Culture