Struggle, Defeat or Rebirth

Eugene O’Neill’s Vision of Humanity


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About the Book

To Eugene O’Neill, the links between man and his surroundings were of prime importance. His characters struggled with existential problems, and how they related to them reveals much about O’Neill’s own humanity. For the most part, the characters defeat their problems and in doing so are “reborn” in some manner.
This work examines the 49 plays that O’Neill completed, focusing on his attempt to find an inner truth in his characters. Part One explores the family, showing how a person is trapped by heredity, space, time and communal hierarchy. Part Two deals with the individual and society, showing how societal conventions confined the characters. In Part Three, personal freedom is the centerpiece, showing how the characters develop a specific approach to life that leads to a coherent vision of the characters’ relationships with the world around them.

About the Author(s)

Thierry Dubost is a professor at the University of Caen in France.

Bibliographic Details

Thierry Dubost
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 293
Bibliographic Info: references, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2005 [1997]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2419-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      xi

List of Abbreviations      xiii

Introduction      1


1. The Family and Its Environment      7

2. The Imprisoned Person      19

3. Relations Between the Characters      33

4. From the Microcosm to the Macrocosm      66

5. The Image of the Family      72

6. Conclusion      76


7. Worlds and the Representation of Them      81

8. The Place of the Human Being in the World      93

9. Belonging      110

10. Non-Belonging      117

11. Conclusion      135


12. The Discovery of Human Beings      139

13. Revelation of an Existential Condition      152

14. The Acknowledgment of the Individual      162

15. Nature      199

16. Conclusion      221

17. Beyond the Conclusions      226

Notes and References      231

Chronological List of the Plays      259

List of “Family Plays”      261

Bibliography      263

Index      271

Book Reviews & Awards

“highly detailed…an exhaustive study”—Choice; “based on an examination of 49 of O’Neill’s plays and a substantial number of scholarly works as well”—Theatre Research International; “Dubost returns us to O’Neillian drama with renewed pleasure”—The Eugene O’Neill Review.