Desire Under the Elms


Eugene O’Neill

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Desire Under the Elms Characters

Ephraim Cabot

The antagonist of the play, Ephraim Cabot (who goes by “Cabot”) is a 78-year-old man who owns a farm in New England in the 1850s and works there with his three sons, Simeon, Peterread analysis of Ephraim Cabot


The protagonist of the play, Eben is Maw and Ephraim Cabot’s son, Simeon and Peter’s younger half-brother, and Abbie’s love interest. Eben is young and handsome, though he always wears a bitter… read analysis of Eben

Abbie Putnam

A beautiful, sensual, and shrewd woman in her mid-30s, Abbie Putnam is Ephraim Cabot’s third wife and Eben’s love interest. Abbie was orphaned at a young age and had a hard life, so… read analysis of Abbie Putnam


Simeon is Ephraim Cabot’s oldest son, whom Cabot had with his first wife. Simeon is 39 years old, and he resents Cabot for making him work so hard digging stones out of the unforgiving… read analysis of Simeon


Peter is Ephraim Cabot’s second-oldest son, whom Cabot had with his first wife. Peter is 37 years old, and, like his brother Simeon, he despises Cabot for subjecting the family to a hard… read analysis of Peter
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Maw was Ephraim Cabot’s second wife and Eben’s mother. She died some years before the play begins, though her presence is still felt on the farm, as an oppressive, almost suffocating maternal energy… read analysis of Maw

The Baby (Abbie and Eben’s Son)

Abbie and Eben conceive a son, known to all as “the baby.” Since Abbie and Eben’s relationship is a secret, they fool Cabot into thinking the baby is his own. And since Cabot had promised… read analysis of The Baby (Abbie and Eben’s Son)
Minor Characters
Minnie is an older woman in town whom Eben is dating at the start of the play. Although she’s never present in the action of the play, the male characters (including Eben) talk dismissively about treating her like a sexual object.
The Fiddler plays the fiddle at a party at Cabot’s farmhouse, and he mischievously hints that it’s clear to the whole community that Abbie and Eben conceived the family’s new baby, even though Cabot thinks that the baby is his.
The Sheriff appears briefly at the end of the play, and he arrests Abbie and Eben, who both claim to have murdered their baby.
Jenn, who died before the play starts, was Simeon’s wife. Simeon briefly recalls her long, gold hair at the start of the play, but he does so in a way that reveals his dismissive attitude towards women.