The Land And What It Symbolizes Essay

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The Land And What It Symbolizes Essay, Research Paper The Land and What It SymbolizesThe land is the most essential asset to any farmer. In the play Desire Under the Elms, this is also the case. The land in the play is the central theme, it holds all of the elements of the play together. It was the object of greed as well. The farm was the source of greed for three of the characters in the play, Ephraim Cabot, his son Eben, and his new wife Abbie. Peter and Simon focused their greed on the fields of gold in the West, primarily in California. One of the ways in which Eugene O+Neill made the land symbolic in the play was through the use of stones. Throughout the play stones, and the walls they created, are mentioned by both Ephraim Cabot and others. The land on this farm was

very poor from the descriptions Ephraim Cabot gives us. The land, from his account, was covered with stones. In order for him to farm his land, he had to remove all the stones and decided to make walls with them. This was hard work, but Ephraim Cabot did not mind the back-breaking work because he felt that God was hard, and this was part of His plan. To Peter and Simon, the stone walls were symbolic in their own way. They represented a sense of confinement and imprisonment. Ephraim Cabot was a man of little or no real emotion. He was very hard on his children and his first wife. As a result Eben, Simon, and Peter hated their father. They felt trapped into doing his wishes, and they saw no real way out. To Peter and Simon, the stone walls built around the farm by their father

symbolized their imprisonment for life. This point is clearly shown when Peter and Simon leave to go find gold in California. In their jubilation upon leaving they say, +The halter+s broke-the harness is busted-the fence bars is down-the stone walls air crumblin+ an+ tumblin+!+ (O+Neill 1076). Eben makes an interesting reference to the stone walls as well. He believes that the stone walls caused the lack of caring and emotion towards their mother by Peter and Simon. He states, +An+ makin+ walls-stone atop o+ stone-makin+ walls till yer heart+s a stone ye heft up out o+ the way o+ growth onto a stone wall t+ wall in yer heart!+(O+Neill 1069). What he is really saying is the fact that the many years of hard work on the farm have made Simon, Peter, and of course their father

Ephraim, immune to emotion or caring. All they knew was work, and it was work that had made them and their father not care about their first mother. The land also is symbolic in other ways as well. Peter, Ephraim, and Simon, as most farmers, see the land as a thing of beauty. This can be seen in several places in the play. O+Neill uses the beauty of the land to describe things completely unrelated to the land. When Abbie tries to seduce Eben she uses nature to prove her point by saying, +H+aint the sun strong an+ hot? Ye kin feel it burnin+ into the earth-Nature-makin+ thin+s grow-bigger +n+ bigger-burnin+ inside ye-making+ ye want t+ grow-into somethin+ else-till ye+re jined with it-an+ it+s your+n-but it owns ye, too-an+ makes ye grow bigger-like a tree-like them

elums-+(O+Neill 1081). Eben uses the beauty of the land to describe Minnie, his girlfriend in the beginning of the play. He says, +her mouth+s wa+m, her arms+re wa+m, she smells like a wa+m plowed field, she+s purty…+(O+Neill 1071). Ephraim also uses the land as a symbol to describe heaven. He describes it by stating, +The sky. Feels like a wa+m field up thar.+(O+Neill 1082). Here Ephraim is describing his old age and what he feels heaven would be like. Peter and Simon even imagine California as being not unlike their farm in New England. In the early part of the play they imagine California as +fields o+ gold!+ and +Fortunes layin+ just atop o+ the ground waitin+ t+ be picked!+(O+Neill 1067). What is ironic here is that they imagine gold in California being just like the