Desire Under the Elms

Desire Under the Elms Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

The elms (symbol)

The elms are a symbol of Maw in that they brood and watch over the house.

The stone wall (symbol)

The stone wall is a symbol of Cabot in his hardness, inflexibility, and commitment to hard, backbreaking work.

The sky (symbol)

The sky is a symbol of an unattainable peace, bliss, purity, and oneness that the characters desire but cannot have.

The money (symbol)

The money Eben takes, which was earned by Maw and technically by Cabot, is a symbol of greed, materialism, backbreaking work, and an Apollonian commitment to grueling self-sacrifice.

Women (symbol)

The women of the play symbolize nature. Jenn is described as having long, golden hair; the elms represent Maw; Min is described as warm, like a field, like the stars; and Abbie is fertile, hale, sensuous, and hot.