Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Theatre Arts

First Committee Member

Jeffrey Koep

Number of Pages



Eugene O'Neill's Desire Under the Elms has proven itself a play worthy of praise. This thesis traces the specific elements which illustrate that this theatrical work, having gone beyond the audience for which it was written in 1924, continues to be rightfully considered a success seventy-five years after its creation. Unlike Robert Brustein in Theatre of Revolt and Eric Bentley in Thinking About The Playwright, who classify and compare all of O'Neill's work in their role as professional critics, this thesis examines and reflects on this one work as an individual entity unto itself; This analysis surveys the prevailing literary, social and moral environment which contributed to Desire Under the Elm's birthing and nurturing to maturity as an American classic. Included is an evaluation of the play in terms of its "superstructure," structural characteristics, as a dramatic work and with an eye to the author's success in approaching this creation via Aristotle's definition of a tragedy (Ball viii). It concludes with an examination of Desire's place in contemporary theater as the final element defining its success.


Analysis; Desire; Elms; Eugene; Everything; Neill; Success; Terms; Timing

Controlled Subject

Theater; American literature

File Format


File Size

1976.32 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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