Eugene O'neill Essay

2416 words - 10 pages

Eugene O'Neill

In my report I plan to prove that Eugene O'Neill's life affected the content and main ideas of his plays. I will go through moments in Eugene's life that were significant, then I will compare them to plays that Eugene made. Eugene's parents' life also played an important role in his own life. Eugene's parents had rough lives full of scandal, depression, and drugs. These moments affected Eugene's life. Points in his life that affected him that he wrote about mainly were about the forces behind human life. His plays were built around drama. Eugene is credited with rising up American Theater from its narrow roots. His career as a playwright consisted of three periods: realist plays, expressionistic plays, and then his return to realism. I will analyze his life and explain how these moments in life affected his plays.

Eugene (Gladstone) O'Neill was born in New York City on October 16, 1888. O'Neill won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1936, and Pulitzer prizes for four of his plays: Beyond the Horizon (1920); Anna Christie (1922); Strange Interlude (1928); And Long Days Journey Into Night (1957). Eugene O'Neill is

credited with raising American dramatic theater from its narrow origins to an art form respected around the world. He is considered by many to be the most important writer in the American theater and was known for trying to define human problems in his works. (Gelb 45)

Eugene was described as being "born afraid"(Sheaffer 4). His entrance into the world was long and painful for his mother. Born 11 pounds (which was large for an infant), Eugene's entrance into the world was achieved with difficulty. He was born in the Barrett House; a family-style hotel at the northeast corner of 43rd Street and Broadway; only a short distance from what would become Times Square. He was christened Eugene Gladstone O'Neill and baptized at Holy Innocence Church on 37th Street. His name reflected his father's pride of Irish heritage.

Eugene's early life consisted of long theatrical tours with his father James O'Neill. James was one of 19th Century America's most popular actors. Eugene and his mother Ella would travel with James on the long, almost endless train rides. His summers were spent in New London being looked after by a maid named Sarah Sandy. Because his family was always on the move, arriving and

departing at all hours, it was sometimes impossible to feed him properly. As a result he suffered from rickets-----a disease generally confined to the poor-----that
left him with "rachitic flair" to his ribs. He gave his parents and Sarah some worrisome moments. One winter night in Chicago the company's advance man, Mrs. O'Neill who thought her baby was dying called George Tyler, out of bed. A doctor was called in and diagnosed it as a slight case of colic. Eugene was a little over one when he had measles, two when he caught typhoid fever, and others far under normal...

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