Teacher Guide

Desire Under the Elms Lesson Plan

Introduction to Desire Under the Elms

Eugene O’Neill’s Desire Under the Elms is one of the playwright's earliest and most successful plays. Written and first performed in 1924 at the Greenwich Village Theatre in New York City (just twelve years before O'Neill won the Nobel Prize), the play shows the timelessness of ancient themes, inspired by the stories of Oedipus, Medea, and Hippolytus. O'Neill blends the ancient and the modern, however, mixing these old themes with ideas evoking Nietzsche and Freud, all the while employing a New England, antebellum vernacular reflecting tones of naturalism. O'Neil's time spent in Brook Farm, Connecticut, no doubt influenced his depiction of the lonesome, melancholy New England landscape....

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