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Desire Under the Elms & The Great God Brown

3.70  ·  Rating Details  ·  575 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
Eugene O'Neill's tale of Ephraim Cabot, greedy and hard like the stone walls that surround his farm, the family patriarch brings home his new young bride, Abbie. His grown sons dissaprove; one leaves but the other stays to fight for the family fortune. What follows is a tragedy of epic proportions.
Published August 10th 1995 by Nick Hern (first published 1958)
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Jun 01, 2009 Ann rated it really liked it
My favorite Bunuel is not one of his '70s surrealist films but his adaptation of Wuthering Heights from his time in Mexico during the '50s. The characters are entirely at the mercy of their passions, which run high and move them to actions which are irreversibly catastrophic. This play reminds me quite a lot of that film: the characters here are also very unlikable, flawed, and overly dramatic but that's what makes them compelling. I liked his description of Abbie Putnam's round face as "pretty ...more
Nov 07, 2007 Lydia rated it liked it
Shelves: plays
If you want to work in American theater, you have to have read the big three: Williams, Miller and O'Neill. I held out for as long as I could on that last one. Oh my gosh, O'Neill is boring. Brilliant. But boring.
So, Desire. You see, there are these elm trees. And under them is a house. And in the house, people are hot for each other, or desire each other, if you will. Get it?
But seriously. I'd probably be all into this if I saw it. And after I left the theater, I'd complain a lot, but while I w
Jun 30, 2010 Sachin rated it liked it
A play depicting the initial instinct of almost all the humans in the world, the instinct of desiring; the instinct of commanding; the instinct of capturing; the instinct of ruling; the instinct of leading; the desire; the most basic cause of grief among humans. Here too, the desire dominates, and the rest are ignored and revolve around the theme of desire.

"Desire says the Buddha is the cause of the Grief,
But how do one escape this binding vine of Love"
Aug 10, 2008 joey rated it liked it
Shelves: drama
I cannot recommend O'Neill enough. This one, though, isn't one I would recommend starting with, necessarily. It seemed a bit more action than psychology, more plot than character, than has been my experience with O'Neill otherwise. Still, worthwhile reading.

First line. God! Purty!

Selected line. I want t' share with ye, Abbie--prison 'r death 'r hell 'r anythin'! If I'm sharin' with ye, I won't feel lonesome, leastways.
Mar 15, 2008 Flora rated it did not like it
Shelves: plays, not-so-much
When I was twelve, I thought this was pretty good, but I've since seen the light. "Desire Under the Elms" is hilariously awful -- overheated to the point of rot. About a Southern patriarch whose young, sexy wife gets knocked up by his son. In the movie version, these roles are played by, respectively, Orson Welles, Sophia Loren, and Anthony Perkins. Yes, you read me right. No, I'm afraid it's not even a guilty pleasure.
Jun 15, 2010 Allan rated it liked it
Shelves: plays
O'Neill covers Phaedra and Medea . . . at the same time! Beautifully written, mid-19th century American transplantation of mythological classics. This exploration of lust and possession provides a quaint reading for the afternoon. A nice mix of the homey, kitchen-sink dramas of early American Realism and the terrorizing, psychological darkness of O'Neill's personal brand of expressionism.
Ayne Ray
Sep 24, 2009 Ayne Ray rated it really liked it
Another masterful play by the renowned American author who works to place plot elements and themes of Greek tragedy in a modern setting. In a letter about his plays from this period, O’Neill stated that his aim was to “see the transfiguring nobility of tragedy, in as near the Greek sense as one can grasp it, in seemingly the most ignoble, debased lives.”
M. V.
Jul 23, 2008 M. V. rated it it was ok
Love O'Neill. Do not love this play. It is a Phaedra-meets-Power-of-Darkness set in New England. The speech is even purposefully colloquial like Tolstoï's play. As a dramatist who steals shamelessly, I'm not knocking the theft: but when an excellent dramatist steals from another excellent dramatist, disappointment is just not something I expect.
Dec 20, 2008 M rated it it was amazing
okay I am a lover of Eugene O'Neill's works..I had the pleasure of being the stage manager in an off Broadway Production. It's inthe genre of Harper lee,and John Steinbeck such rich writing--and it was nice to give my husband at thetime the role of Sherriff in the off-off Broadway production.
Ann Canann
Feb 08, 2011 Ann Canann rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays
Found in Pb. "Eight Great Tragedies pg. 350
Also found in Hb. "Selected Plays of Eugene O'Neill
And Pb. Three plays by O"Neill
Mar 19, 2007 Rolls rated it it was amazing
This is O'Neill's real take on Greek Tragedy. "Electra" is corny and forced in comparison.
May 20, 2011 Leigh rated it liked it
Let's be honest: mostly, O'Neill is just a nutcase. I like him, but: nutcase.
Feb 27, 2008 Chris rated it it was ok
Worst fake southern accents ever.
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Eugene Gladstone O'Neill was an American playwright who won the 1936 Nobel Prize in Literature "for the power, honesty and deep-felt emotions of his dramatic works, which embody an original concept of tragedy." More than any other dramatist, O'Neill introduced American drama to the dramatic realism pioneered by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, and Swedish playwr ...more
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