Desire Under the Elms

by

Eugene O’Neill

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Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of Desire Under the Elms published in 1995.
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Part 1: Scene 1 Quotes

Two enormous elms are on each side of the house. They bend their trailing branches down over the roof. They appear to protect and at the same time subdue. There is a sinister maternity in their aspect, a crushing, jealous absorption. […] They brood oppressively over the house. They are like exhausted women resting their sagging breasts and hands and hair on its roof, and when it rains their tears trickle down monotonously and rot on the shingles.

Related Characters: Maw , Eben, Ephraim Cabot
Related Symbols: Elm Trees
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

Here—it’s stones atop o’ the ground—stones atop o’ stones—makin’ stone walls—year atop o’ year—him ’n’ yew ’n’ me ’n’ then Eben—makin’ stone walls fur him to fence us in!

Related Characters: Peter (speaker), Simeon, Eben, Ephraim Cabot
Related Symbols: Stones
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:

‘T would be hard fur me, too, to give up what we’ve ‘arned here by our sweat.

Related Characters: Peter (speaker), Simeon, Eben, Ephraim Cabot, Maw , Abbie Putnam
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 1: Scene 2 Quotes

They was chores t’ do, wa’n’t they?

Related Characters: Eben (speaker), Maw , Peter, Simeon
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 1: Scene 3 Quotes

Waal—when I seen her, I didn’t hit her—nor I didn’t kiss her nuther—I begun t’ beller like a calf an’ cuss at the same time, I was so durn mad—an’ she got scared—an’ I jest grabbed holt an’ tuk her! (Proudly) Yes, siree! I tuk her. She may’ve been his ’n—an’ your ’n, too—but she’s mine now! […] What do I care fur her—‘ceptin she’s round an’ wa’m?

Related Characters: Eben (speaker), Minnie, Peter, Simeon, Ephraim Cabot, Abbie Putnam
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

Mebbe it’s all a lie ‘bout Paw marryin’. We’d best wait an’ see the bride.

Related Characters: Simeon (speaker), Peter, Ephraim Cabot, Abbie Putnam, Eben
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 1: Scene 4 Quotes

Lust fur gold—fur the sinful, easy gold o’ California! It’s made ye mad!

Related Characters: Ephraim Cabot (speaker), Simeon, Peter, Abbie Putnam
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

Livin’ free! Whoop!

Related Characters: Simeon (speaker), Peter, Ephraim Cabot
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

She cannot control a grimace of aversion and pulls back her head slowly and shuts the window.

Related Characters: Abbie Putnam, Ephraim Cabot
Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2: Scene 1 Quotes

(enraged beyond endurance—wildly vindictive) An’ his lust fur me! Kin ye find excuses fur that?

Related Characters: Abbie Putnam (speaker), Eben, Ephraim Cabot, Minnie
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

(frightened now for Eben) No! Don’t ye!

Related Characters: Abbie Putnam (speaker), Eben, Ephraim Cabot
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:

He bows his head, mumbling. She pretends to do likewise but gives him a side glance of scorn and triumph.

Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2: Scene 2 Quotes

I got weak—despairful—they was so many stones. They was a party leavin’, givin’ up, goin’ West. I jined ‘em. We tracked on ‘n’ on. We come t’ broad medders, plains, whar the soil was black an’ rich as gold. Nary a stone. Easy. Ye’d on’y to plow an’ sow an’ then set an’ smoke yer pipe an’ watch thin’s grow. I could o’ been a rich man—but somethin’ in me fit me an’ fit me—the voice o’ God sayin’: “This hain’t wuth nothin’ t’ Me. Git ye back t’ hum!” I got afeerd o’ that voice an’ I lit out back t’ hum here, leavin’ my claim an’ crops t’ whoever’d a mind t’ take ‘em. Ay-eh. I actooly give up what was rightful mine! God’s hard, not easy!

Related Characters: Ephraim Cabot (speaker), Abbie Putnam
Related Symbols: Stones
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

I lived with the boys. They hated me ‘cause I was hard. I hated them ‘cause they was soft. They coveted the farm without knowin’ what it meant. It made me bitter ‘n wormwood. It aged me—them coveting what I’d made fur mine. Then this spring the call come—the voice o’ God cryin’ in my wilderness, in my lonesomeness—t’ go out an’ seek an’ find! […] I sought ye an’ I found ye! Yew air my Rose o’ Sharon!

Related Characters: Ephraim Cabot (speaker), Abbie Putnam, Simeon, Peter, Eben
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:

It’s cold in this house. It’s uneasy. They’s thin’s pokin’ about in the dark—in the corners.

Related Characters: Ephraim Cabot (speaker), Abbie Putnam, Maw
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:

But her eyes are fixed on his so burningly that his will seems to wither before hers. He stands swaying toward her helplessly.

Related Characters: Abbie Putnam, Eben, Ephraim Cabot, Minnie
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2: Scene 3 Quotes

(In spite of her overwhelming desire for him, there is a sincere maternal love in her manner and voice—a horribly frank mix of lust and mother love). Don’t cry Eben! I'll take yer Maw’s place! I'll be everythin’ she was t’ ye! Let me kiss ye, Eben! […] Can’t ye see it hain’t enuf—lovin’ ye like a Maw—can’t ye see it’s got t’ be that an’ more—much more—a hundred times more—fur me t’ be happy—fur yew t’ be happy?

Related Characters: Abbie Putnam (speaker), Eben, Maw , Ephraim Cabot
Page Number: 39
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 3: Scene 1 Quotes

Ye're all hoofs! Git out o’ my road! Give me room! I’ll show ye dancin’. Ye’re all too soft!

Related Characters: Ephraim Cabot (speaker), Fiddler
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:

Let's celebrate the old skunk gittin’ fooled! We kin have some fun now he’s went.

Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 3: Scene 2 Quotes

They grapple in what becomes immediately a murderous struggle. The old man's concentrated strength is too much for Eben. Cabot gets one hand on his throat and presses him back across the stone wall. At the same moment, Abby comes out on the porch. With a stifled cry she runs toward them.

Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:

I wish he never was born! I wish he’d die this minit! I wish I’d never set eyes on him! It’s him—yew havin’ him-a-purpose t’ steal—that’s changed everythin’!

Related Characters: Eben (speaker), Abbie Putnam, The Baby (Abbie and Eben’s Son)
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

If I could make it—‘s if he’d never come up between us—if I could prove t’ ye I wa’n’t schemin’ t’ steal from ye—so’s everythin’ could be jest the same with us, lovin’ each other jest the same, kissin’ an’ happy the same’s we’ve been happy afore he come—if I could do it—ye’d love me agen, wouldn’t ye? Ye’d kiss me agen? Ye wouldn’t never leave me, would ye?

Related Characters: Abbie Putnam (speaker), Eben, The Baby (Abbie and Eben’s Son)
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 3: Scene 3 Quotes

But I’ll take vengeance now! I’ll git the Sheriff! I’ll tell him everythin’!

Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

I kin hear His voice warnin’ me agen t’ be hard an’ stay on my farm. […] It’s agoin’ t’ be lonesomer now than ever it war afore-an’ I’m gittin’ old […] Waal—what d’ ye want? God’s lonesome, hain’t He? God’s hard an’ lonesome!

Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:

It’s a jim-dandy farm, no denyin’. Wished I owned it!

Related Characters: Sheriff (speaker), Eben, Abbie Putnam, The Baby (Abbie and Eben’s Son)
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:
No matches.