Themes and Meanings

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

Several themes emerge in Beyond the Horizon that Eugene O’Neill touched upon in his earlier produced one-act plays. Virginia Floyd aptly notes that these “earlier themes coalesce in Beyond the Horizon: the necessity of the dream to sustain man, the wife-husband and father-son conflicts, the contrasting value systems of the idealist poet and materialist businessman, the lure of the land versus that of the sea.” Although these same themes recur in much of O’Neill’s later works, in Beyond the Horizon he posits them in the larger context of being true to one’s nature. The dream may sustain a person, but if an individual makes choices diametrically opposed to those dreams, disaster will surely follow.

The play points out, at times unrelentingly, that each of the two brothers makes decisions that run counter to his true nature. Andrew, the son of the soil, in a moment of jealousy leaves the farm and the way of life he is called to, finding himself adrift both literally and figuratively in a world foreign and incomprehensible. It seems appropriate that he fails at land speculation, because, even though he knows about land, farming, and the joy of making things grow, he is connected no longer to the land—he simply sees it in a materialistic way. Likewise, Robert has long dreamed of the chance to discover what is “out there” beyond the horizon. He longs for adventure and for discovery but opts for the sedentary life of...

(The entire section is 493 words.)


(Drama for Students)

Dreams provide the main theme of the play. Every one of the characters has dreams. Ruth dreams of having a...

(The entire section is 1311 words.)