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From Humanism to Ecology: An Ecocritical Reading of Desire Under the Elms

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2016, 29(3), pp.167-190
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Choi Seok Hun 1

1연세대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

From Humanism to Ecology: An Ecocritical Reading of Desire Under the Elms Abstract Choi,Seokhun The two major critical trends of O’Neill’s Desire Under the Elms have so far been biographical criticism and Freudian psychoanalysis. The current essay seeks to challenge the anthropocentrism inherent in these traditional approaches to the play from an ecocritical perspective. In the play, the characters take for granted their ownership of the farm and its natural surroundings including the soil, animals, and even the sky. Such condescending attitude towards the nature derives from their belief in human superiority to other species—reminiscent of the medieval scala naturae—and is fundamentally linked to their egoism. From the ecocentric standpoint, however, man has no claim to the ownership of the natural world, and the characters’ lust for possession does not only prove harmful to the environment but also brings destructive consequences to humans themselves. Such ecocritical interpretation of the canonical play, in tandem with an understanding of theatre as an eco-friendly medium for its fullness and celebration of life, can make a significant contribution to promoting environmental awareness in the Anthropocene.

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