The Play

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

Beyond the Horizon was Eugene O’Neill’s first full-length play to merit production. Set in and around the Mayo farm, the play chronicles the story of Robert and Andrew, two brothers closely allied to each another but totally disparate. Andrew is the born farmer, “husky, sun-bronzed son of the soil,” while Robert is the dreamer with a “touch of the poet about him, delicate of feature and refined.”

As the curtain rises, Robert is sitting on the property’s fence line contemplating the horizon in the distance. He has long dreamed of leaving the farm and traveling so he will not take root in any one place. This, in fact, is his last night on the farm, as he will embark the next morning to sail with his uncle, Captain Dick Scott, on the bark Sunda, finally having the opportunity to visit the exotic places that he has only dreamed and read about. A brief interchange with Andrew solidifies the established roles each brother has assumed in the family. Clearly each has different dreams and aspirations respectfully supported by the other. Ruth Atkins now appears. Although Ruth is engaged to Andrew, Robert confesses his love for her on the eve of his departure. Likewise, Ruth confides that she has also loved him for many years and was only settling for Andrew because it seemed that Robert was not interested in her. Reassured that “love” must be the “secret calling him from over the world’s rim—the secret beyond every horizon,” Robert decides that their love is “sweeter than any distant dream.” He will stay and work the farm with Ruth at his side.

The next scene reveals to the family the recent events between Ruth and Robert that the audience has just witnessed. Andrew, upset and jilted, makes the hasty...

(The entire section is 719 words.)