The Fountain: Play by Eugene O'Neill - Summary & Analysis

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      The plot of The Fountain, follows the career of Juan Ponce Leon who remains a dreamer from his youth to death. In youth, Juan is mad after and wealth in order to build the kingdom of Spain. After managing the governorship of Porto Rice after twenty years, he still finds his life monotonous and directionless. Now he dreams of new adventure by exploring the fabulous land. Moreover, the daughter of the woman Beatriz he had seen once arrives to inspire new love, and he romantically seeks the fountain of youth which is believed to flow in the new land. Finding the impossible fountain with the help of Indian guides, he is ambushed by them as he is about to drink from it. Finally, he is killed by arrows. This much is a romantic tragedy. When Juan is ambushed beside the fountain, a voice seems to ring above him, calling him back to life. He comes back to Porto Rice, and hears the song again. It is sung this time by the young Beatriz, to her young lover, his nephew. In final mystic ecstasy, he realizes that the true fountain of youth is the eternal recurrence of youth, not in the individual, but in the race. He dies in the end by saying, “O Fountain of Eternity, take back this drop, my soul”.

Critical Analysis

      O’Neill attempted to blend poetic myth with realistic action in this play. Moreover, the play attempts to dramatize romantic ideal in all its forms. The characters appear as mere symbols that lack the breath of life. The basic flaw lies deeper in the confusion of its dramatic conception and the mysticism which inspired it.

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