Expressionism in the plays of Eugene O'Neill

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1970

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Abstract

Eugene O'Neill wished to portray more than surface truth in his dramas. Hence, he utilized expressionistic techniques in order to stress the hidden truth, the truth which is not always apparent in a realistic interpretation. As this study reveals, O'Neill used expressionism in most of his dramas, whether they are predominantly expressionistic, romantic, or realistic in tone. In his expressionistic plays, expressionism is utilized to depict the regressions of the protagonists (The Emperor Jones and The Hairy Ape) and to underscore both the artificial values of modern society and the mystical elements present in the play (The Ancient Mariner) . In O'Neill's romantic dramas, expressionism is employed to emphasize the mystical vision of the protagonist (The Fountain). to stress propagandistic ideas (Marco Millions), and to accentuate the spiritual and the corrupt aspects of man (Lazarus Laughed). In his essentially realistic dramas, O'Neill uses expressionism to show the conflicts between characters (Welded. All God's Chillun Got Wings, and More Stately Mansions), to illustrate the differences between the outer and inner personalities of the characters (The Great God Brown, Strange Interlude, and Days Without End), to stress the idea of the machine as god (Dynamo). and to emphasize the importance of pipe dreams (The Iceman Cometh).

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Keywords

O'Neill, Eugene, 1888-1953, Criticism and interpretation

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