Anna Christie

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Anna Christie and Mat Burke: two individuals who emigrated from Europe as children to become a couple. Mat Burke, a seaman, unsure of his own self worth, falls in love with the daughter of a Swedish coal barge captain. The daughter of Chris Christophson reveals that she was not a nurse, but a prostitute, who left Minnesota in hopes of recuperating from a recent brothel raid. She expects little from him, but finds that her father is repentant and wanting to make amends for the years he abandoned her.

At the end of Anna Christie we believe that Anna and Mat Burke will make the attempt to find happiness with one another. Despite Anna's past, the couple will be wed. The future is not so bright. Mat Burke is set to sail to South Africa to earn his living. This means that he will be immediately separated from his wife, who he just found out was a prostitute. Time has not passed for the couple to mend their relationship that has been severely damaged by the discovery of Anne's past. Mat will be a newlywed, on a ship, separated from his wife, and he's not supposed to have doubts about her fidelity? It is only natural that he would doubt, and therefore suffer because of those doubts.

Mat Burke fell deeply in love with Anna Christie, so much in love that he is willing to overlook that she was a prostitute. He is uncomfortable with ladies and behaves inappropriately with her despite his best intentions (O'Neill 28-9). Being a sailor, his interactions with women tend to be with prostitutes; he is uncomfortable in his own skin. Strong and coarse, Mat Burke is concerned with his own libido, his own sense of pride. He wants Anna Christie to dull the angst in his pants and to make him a man in a way that no prostitute can: he wants her to quell his loneliness (O'Neill, 26). Being lonely, however, does not mean that he is suddenly supposed to forget the truth.

Anna Christie's love for Mat is an opportunity for her to be reborn, to leave the pain of rape behind. In the fog, on the barge, she has the opportunity to become a virgin again. Many used her body but she surrenders her heart to Mat alone. To become a virgin again, she must shed her pain, and the lie.

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