40 pages 1 hour read

Eugene O'Neill

Beyond the Horizon

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1920

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Character Analysis

Robert Mayo

Robert Mayo (Rob) is the tragic hero of the play, and when he first appears in the opening scene, the stage directions describe him as “a tall, slender young man of about twenty-three. There is a touch of the poet about him” (126). Rob’s features are also “delicate and refined” (126), immediately marking him out as unsuitable for physical farm labor. A dreamer with a vivid imagination, Rob is characterized as the opposite of his strong, outdoorsy brother, Andy. After a sickly childhood that kept him stuck at home, Rob dreams of seeing the world beyond the horizon and exploring all of the places that he read about in books. His decision to cancel his sea voyage to marry Ruth and stay on the farm is the impetus for the tragic chain of events, spurring Andy to take his place on Uncle Scott’s ship.

Rob’s marriage is doomed from the outset; Ruth is not a suitable match for him and was only won over by his poetry and romanticized storytelling. In addition, Rob is not a natural farmer like Andy, and the family farm soon starts to fail under his care. Rob’s poor efforts see him mocked by the local farmhands.