Desire Under the Elms

by Eugene O’Neill
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Who in Desire Under the Elms is always dressed in a "dismal black Sunday suit"? What does the suit represent?

In Desire Under the Elms by Eugene O'Neill, Ephraim Cabot dresses in a "dismal black Sunday suit" that represents his dark and dreary personality and attitude toward life.

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In Eugene O'Neill's play Desire Under the Elms, Ephraim Cabot is the character who dresses in a “dismal black Sunday suit,” and that dreary, dark suit is the perfect outward expression of Cabot's dreary, dark personality.

Cabot has three sons, the two oldest (Simeon and Peter) from his...

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In Eugene O'Neill's play Desire Under the Elms, Ephraim Cabot is the character who dresses in a “dismal black Sunday suit,” and that dreary, dark suit is the perfect outward expression of Cabot's dreary, dark personality.

Cabot has three sons, the two oldest (Simeon and Peter) from his first wife and the youngest (Eben) from his second wife, Maw. All three young men despise their father because he forces them to work at hard, unending farm labor with no prospect of an end. Eben has another reason to hate his father, for Cabot worked Eben's mother to death on that farm. Cabot is indeed a mean man, and Eben has a plan for revenge. He buys out his brothers' portions of their inheritance (using money he steals from his father), and the older two head out for California. Then Eben schemes how he will claim the farm.

But Cabot foils Eben's plans by bringing home a new young wife, Abbie. Abbie has clearly married Cabot for one reason: she wants the farm. Abbie has no feelings for Cabot at all, but she is highly attracted to Eben. Cabot becomes more and more gloomy, and he rambles on about his wives and ends up sleeping in the barn a lot. He also gets drunk, mocks Eben, and even turns violent toward his son.

By the end of the play, Cabot is alone yet again, for Abbie and Eben have been taken away for the murder of their baby. Cabot decides that he will remain alone, working on the farm day and night and finally dying all by himself with no one near. Indeed, Cabot has remained as dark and dreary as his “dismal black Sunday suit” until the very end.

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