Ah, Wilderness - Significance of the play's title Essay

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Ah, Wilderness - Significance of the play's title  

The title of the play, Ah, Wilderness, by Eugene O'Neill, plays a significant role in the understanding of the play. The "wilderness" is used as a metaphor for the period in a male's life when he is no longer a boy, but not yet a man. This play tells the story of the coming-of-age of Richard, and the evolution he undergoes while becoming a man.

The "wilderness" used in the title is a metaphor for the years between childhood and manhood. Life, for a man, is like the woods. When one is a boy, he is in a clearing. Everything told by adults is taken as truth, and because of this trust the truth is clear. As one enters the in-between years, the truth is no longer as clear.
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There is mention of drinking and developing a story to appease Richard's parents. Normally Richard would be against lying to his parents but, after dinner when he is "humiliated and wronged, (and) even his father (has) turned enemy," he feels the need to " . . . show them . . . "(827).

Act III, Scene One is Richard's attempt to prove his manhood by engaging in debauchery. Here we find Richard in a bar of ill repute, drinking with a "tart." Richard is "thrilled and proud of at last mingling with the pace that kills." In trying to be a man, Richard does little more than prove his innocence. When prompted by the "tart" to finish off his beer before it becomes flat, to cover up his inexperience with alcohol, Richard replies, "I like it better when it's flat," but he hastily proceeds to gulp down the rest of the glass (827). Because of his false sense of bravado, brought on by the over-consumption of alcohol, Richard becomes a "big-spender" and states, " . . . See what the lady will have--and have one on me yourself." He later tips the bartender sixty cents, more than a 100 percent tip, trying to keep up his bravado and trying also to cover up his naiveté. Another example showing that Richard believes he is acting in

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