Desire Under the Elms Characters

Characters Discussed (Great Characters in Literature)

Ephraim Cabot

Ephraim Cabot, a greedy, harsh, old New England widower. He has taken over his second wife’s farm and worked her to death. He has brutalized his three sons, working them like animals on the farm until they hate him bitterly. At the age of seventy-six, he marries thirty-five-year-old Abbie Putnam, a deed intended to cheat his sons of their inheritance. The two older sons have left the farm, but Eben, the youngest, remains. Abbie, whom Eben hates, cleverly seduces him, and he fathers a child that Ephraim, duped by flattery, believes is his own. Taunted by his father, Eben threatens to kill Abbie for tricking him. By this time, she has fallen in love with Eben. As her way of proving this love, she murders the baby. When Abbie is about to be arrested, Eben realizes that he now loves her, and he insists on accepting part of the blame for her crime. As the sheriff takes them away, Ephraim is left alone to contemplate his empty victory over his sons.

Eben Cabot

Eben Cabot, Ephraim’s son by his second wife. He hates Ephraim for the way the self-righteous old hypocrite treated his mother. Believing that the farm is really his, Eben buys out the potential claim of his brothers by giving each three hundred dollars from a hoard of gold his mother had hidden. He bitterly resents the arrival of a young stepmother, and he continues to hate her even after she seduces him and he fathers her child. Her final act of...

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