40 pages 1 hour read

Eugene O'Neill

Beyond the Horizon

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1920

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The Consequences of Denying Your Dreams

Dreams, and the tragic consequences of denying them, is a central themes in the play. Many characters have dreams that end up unfulfilled—James Mayo dreams his son Andy will take over the running of the family farm, while Ruth dreams of a romantic and idealized marriage. However, the biggest dreamers are the Mayo brothers, Rob and Andy.

Rob suffered from long periods of illness as a child and spent a lot of time indoors, staring out at the hills and thinking about what lay beyond the horizon: “Those were the only happy moments of my life then, dreaming there at the window” (133). Rob was physically restricted by his bodily ailments, so he allowed his mind and imagination to wander freely by inventing amazing spaces inhabited by magical beings. As Rob develops into an adult and grows stronger, the dream of journeying beyond the hills and seeing the reality of “all the wonders of the world” that he believes are waiting there remains “as alluring as ever” (133). At the beginning of the play, Rob tells Ruth that his planned voyage is “keeping that promise of long ago” and a fulfilment of his childhood dream (133).

In contrast, Andy’s dream is to marry Ruth and take over the family farm.