How does O Neill react to the philosophy of puritanism

How does O Neill react to the philosophy of puritanism

Question: How does O’Neill react to the philosophy of puritanism? Discuss.


“Desire Under the Elms” (1924) is a modern tragedy written by Eugene O’Neill (1888 – 1953). The writer shows a crystal picture of puritan philosophy in the play. After scanning the play, we get some aspects of puritan which are discussed below:

Puritan philosophy

Puritanism supports hardship, stereotypical mentality, and like that evil terms in life. The philosophy of puritanism makes a puritan like a beggar at the door of life. O’Neill condemns puritanism because it is a doctrine of suppression.

Stereotypical mentality

O’Neill shows the stereotypical mentality of Cabot and Eben in the play in a fantastic way. This is one of the important philosophical views of puritanism. Cabot is the follower of “hard worker” and “hard God”. He never goes outside of his stony land. He never wants to lose his ownership of the farmhouse at any cost. He says:

“Cabot: …. The farm will remain mine.”

Again, he says:

Cabot: No, I do not think that I can take it with me when I die. But if it were possible for me to take it with me, I would surely do so, I swear by God.

Even, in the last part of the play, he wants to burn his farmhouse so that nobody can possess it. Eben also is a follower of his father. He has a revengeful tendency upon his father. He thinks that his father kills his mother. At last, he takes his revenge upon his father.

Hardship of puritanism

From the account of Cabot’s past life, we know that he comes to that place more than fifty years ago. At that time, he was the strongest and toughest person among the people. He works there in a stony land to grow crops. Once he gets a chance to go away to fertile land. He does not go there. Because the voice of God orders him to do hard work and not to go there. He believes in hard God. According to him, God is difficult to get, not easy at all. Thus, the writer shows the hardship of puritanism.

Click here: for all notes of Drama

Male-dominated ideology

The male-dominated tendency is the philosophy of puritanism. In this very drama, the writer shows this tendency by the character of Cabot. We come to know after scanning the play that Cabot is a hard-working man and he makes everyone a hard worker without any excuse.

Pride and loss of showing respect

We know that unnecessary pride is not good for one’s life. Here, Cabot shows his unnecessary pride. Overall puritans think that they are on the right path of God. Nothing but hateful tendencies can be expected from them. He says in the following manner to Old Farmer:

“Cabot: I have got plenty of vigour in me. Plenty of it. People do not know how much vigour I have got.”

Here, Old Farmer says him about producing a son at 75 years old. Cabot replies to him by this dialogue in a young mood. According to the writer, this is the effect of puritan philosophy.


To sum up, we can say that Eugene O’Neill is totally opposed to the philosophy of puritanism. His idea of describing the philosophy of puritans is undoubtedly fantastic.

Ruhul Huda
Ruhul Huda

You can call me Mr. Huda. I am a researcher and doing this work for years. I like to learn everywhere. So, feel free to share your experience with me.

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