Effective Opening Scenes of Eugene O'Neill's Plays

One significant feature of O’ Neill’s dramatic art is seen in the effective opening scenes of his plays. In almost all his plays the problem of the beginning has been managed with the remarkable skill conversant as he was with the stage intimately, on problem in dramatic technique escaped the attention.Read More about American literature   

Eugene O'Neill leads the serious dramatists in America today. For two successive years his plays, Beyond the Horizon, and Anna Christie, were awarded the Pulitzer prize. His plays are being produced in England, France and Germany, and have been greeted with tremendous enthusiasm.Read More about American literature   Emperor Jones was a pioneer experiment in audience hypnosis. The Hairy Ape proved that tragedies may be popular successes.

To O’ Neill since the first is important he makes it a point not to open it with some form of pantomime that is vital to the story, symbolic of the theme and impressive in itself.  Keith  has remarked about the opening scenes o’ Neill’ plays form the one act plays to the latest work this technique of the beginning is practical. Again, being very much aware of European experiments in drama, O'Neill utilized a wide variety of dramatic styles, including symbolism in The Fountain (1925), expressionism in The Hairy Ape (1922), and realism in Desire Under the Elms (1924). Notably in all of these plays there is a striking beginning. Read More about American literature It combines action and interpretation at the same time unifying and interesting the audience while it wastes no times in staring the serious business of revealing the theme of the play.

The Emperor Jones provides as good a case as any for specific analysis.Read More about Drama   When the stage is revealed the pantomime is immediately tense   very dramatic. A native Negro woman sneaks in cautiously from the entrance of the right. Read More about Drama This action in itself is full of evil foreboding. And if it is not enough to focus the attention of the audience there is more to follow. He hesitates beside the doorway, peering back as if in extreme dread of being discovered. The she beings to guide noiselessly, a step at time toward the doorway the rear. At this moment Smithers appear beneath the portico. He sees the woman and steps to watch her suspiciously. Finally Smithers springs forward and grads her firmly by the shoulder. She struggles to get away, fiercely but silently. The graphic pantomime takes several minutes and is so dramatic in its character that by the time it is all carried through the audience is waiting for the words that will give meaning to the action.  More about Drama 
Read More about American literature   And what may be said of him in this respect may be said of many of O'Neill's characters with reference to the romantic ideal. An uncritical analysis might lead a reader to believe that O'Neill had stacked the fates against them. The opposite is really true, for it is typical of the romantic dreamer that he does not, nor can he, comprehend the falsity of his position until it is put to the crucial test, and then it is too late to turn back. It is O'Neill's clear development of this point that gives tragic reality to his work, and it is the failure to grasp this truth which has led many people to condemn him. More about Drama But he is too much of an artist not to realize truly a fact of life that is the very essence of his own nature. He is the romantic dreamer who knows the deadly power of the dream's appeal. In his life, as in his work, he has striven against it, and out of the struggle he has created the bitter tragic beauty of his art. He never forgets that life will exact a double toll from those who believe that dreaming of what life ought to be will make it other than it is. Read More about American literature  

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