Classical, Biblical, and Shakespearean Intertextuality in Eugene O’Neill’s Desire Under the Elms


This paper will explore Classical, Biblical, and Shakespearean intertextuality in Desire under the Elms (1924), a tragedy by the American playwright Eugene O'Neill. The play is adapted from Classical plays or Greek mythology with reference to Oedipus, Phaedra, Medea, etc. It also alludes to the Bible through the names of its major characters and their speeches. Regarding the Shakespearean sources, several characters in Desire under the Elms resemble those in Shakespeare's plays, such as Hamlet and Macbeth. As such, the play develops tragic styles through intertextual connections with sources or analogues found in writings of these three literary traditions. By drawing on the theories proposed by Julia Kristeva, Linda Hutcheon, and other critics concerning intertextuality, adaptation, parody, and theatrical illusion, this paper will examine how dramatic tension is increased in Desire under the Elms by focusing on the investigations of the intertextual parallels that may result in new or hybrid signification.

Author Information
Hsin-Yun Ou, National University of Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Paper Information
Conference: IICAHDubai2016
Stream: Humanities - Media, Film Studies, Theatre, Communication

This paper is part of the IICAHDubai2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon