An Analysis of the Character of Dancer in Eugene O Neill's "Thirst"

In each of the modern play, psychology forms the upper hand. In the opacity of abysmal human psychological world the floating characters in the modern play broods over the revelation of life and its greater meaning. Eugene O Neill's Thirst also provides a befitting atmosphere to snatch away the agonized hearts of three persons who are pinned up in the formulated phrase of lifelessness. The zeal for life, for rescue as if, in co-relation to fleeting El Dorado or missing Godot is totally absent in the hovering atmosphere of vast Atlantic Ocean where there is scorching sunlight and the endless blue horizon.The Dancer is still aspiring to live, should live for the love of her life even if, it is denied altogether by fate or by still unknown human action. The Dancer represents the class of arts, of living with hope, betterment and full of human dreams.Thus her transformation from life to death is the greatest tragic downfall expressed in the play.

The play centers on the struggle of three shipwreck victims survived on a small white raft adrift on a glassy sea. Descending into madness as a result of their thirst, they prey on each other until they sacrifice their humanity to the uncaring, black-stained sea. Despite their common predicament, the three are separated by social, as well as psychological forces. The Gentleman and the Dancer represent the upper class white world, while the Sailor, a mulatto, represents the lower class, and nonwhite world. The Gentleman and the Dancer are materialistic, having been more concerned with saving their worldly goods a wallet and a diamond necklace. The sailor is more agog to nature and survival strategy.

The story of mistrust is there hovering as the three figures gradually transforming into the death figure owing to hunger, thirst and devastated hopes. Only in the hallucination, they see the green island with crippling stream, the saving boat etc. Hopes are dashed into the field of actuality as no water, no rescuer arrives, and only the silence and scorching sun remains. We can locate their frustrations in their speeches. The Dancer anticipates "My God, this is horrible to wait and wait for something that never comes". But she cannot escape the curse that hovers over O' Neill's imaginary world: suffering as a secular equivalent to the idea of Original Sin, the inevitable outcome of the human condition. Dancer again cries, "Oh, this silence! I cannot bear this silence. Talk to me about anything you please but, for God's sake, talk to me! I must not think! I must not think!" . The Dancer's shrieks are telling, for in them she is calling upon the power of language to block out the reality that is slowly driving her mad.Water might be kept hidden by the Mulatto the other two accused off. The Dancer who is of greater hope for a better life next in store, dreams of a success after a struggling career. She is with the hope of a catastrophic somersault from death to life. She is offering the Mulatto the necklace for the sake of water. She is most probably offering her flash to the Mulatto. Like the Salome, she dances as she has danced for the noblemen millionaire and all degrees of gentlemen. She even proclaims, “I have never loved any of them as I will love you”. In order to quench her thirst she is cheapening her honor. However, her attempts fail and she dies a pathetic death.

From the greater symbolic stance it can be said that we are Dancers in the love of finery and beauty; we are Gentleman in our sober attitude to society and obviously the West Indian Mulatto under our sleeve in our basic instincts. After the Dancer’s death, the transformation of the West Indian Mulatto to cannibalism is justifiable, as after the death of finery and socialism each human being turns savage. In the greatest psychologically traumatized a situation our transformation to savagery is a stunning truth.

 Oscillating and vacillating in her thought the Dancer most probably becomes a psychic explanation of a person better hypnotized and smuggled to the ray of life denied. Hers is the life of agony, of thirst, of lifelessness, of hopelessness, of metamorphosis from life to death. The same is true for other two characters.