Essay on The Influences of Playwright Eugene O’Neill

Essay on The Influences of Playwright Eugene O’Neill

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Many playwrights drew from outside influences to compose their works. They would look the era they were living in, their personal lives, childhood experiences, and even ancient texts to acquire inspiration for their works and famous playwright, Eugene O’Neill, is no exception. Writing through two world wars, a great depression, and boom of the motion-picture industry, O’Neill certainly had much inspiration to choose from. Although not becoming nationally recognized until after his father’s death in 1920, O’Neill still managed to produce fifty completed works. Using influences from the 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, Eugene O’Neill demonstrated how he used the era he was living in to help compose his works.
The 1910s was an era of labor unions, World War I, the assembly line and much more. In 1912, the historic sinking of the Titanic took place. O’Neill was greatly influenced by this and thus wrote three plays dealing with shipwrecks; the most recognized of those three being, Thirst. Thirst was a self-published play that he wrote while resided in New London, CT in the fall of 1913. It is about three shipwreck survivors and their will to prove that one of the survivors is hiding water. In writing Thirst, O’Neill also drew from the inspiration of two great playwrights, August Strindberg and Maurice Maeterlinck. Strindberg was a Swedish playwright “combined psychology and Naturalism in a new kind of European drama that evolved into Expressionist drama”( Mortensen). Maeterlinck was a Flemish playwright who was known for his pieces of the Symbolist theatre. In the spring of 1917, O’Neill wrote Ile. In this play, O’Neill took more inspiration from the town he was currently residing in, Provincetown, MA, than from world events. After he...

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Whitley, Peggy. "American Cultural History - The Twentieth Century: 1910 - 1919."American Cultural History. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Jan. 2014. .
Phelps, William L. "Eugene O'Neill, Dramatist." Eugene O'Neill, Dramatist. The New York Times, 19 June 1921. Web. 07 Jan. 2014. .

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