EUGENE O’NEILL (1888-1953)
- At the beginning of the 20th century, the U.S started to change its relations with the world and ended its isolation from international conflicts.
- The U.S was the world’s richest and most powerful nation;
- The U.S got involved in WW I (1917) and WW II (1941). The involvement in WWII was a consequence of the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbour;
- The U.S dropped the first atomic bomb used in the war on Hiroshima and Nagasaki;
- After WWII the U.S took over the role of leader of the Western World, establishing the Marshall Aid plan and NATO.
ECONOMY AND SOCIETY:
The 1920s were called “the roaring twenties”. It was a period of excess and enjoyment.
1920-1933 ̵ the Prohibition: the ban on alcohol, clubs are illegal but they function underground and alcohol is trafficked.
1929 ̵ the prosperity comes to a sudden end because of The Great Depression ̵ millions of people lose jobs and the economy suffers an abrupt decline;
Despite the economical hardships of the 1930s, society evolved:
- Women of the jazz era embraced new roles; they had more freedom, danced, drank, went clubbing.
- Fashion changed radically.
After WWII (1945) the economy enjoys a boom;
The consumer society is born:
- The middle class prospers and has access to higher education.
IDEOLOGY AND CULTURE:
Principles of realism:
- normal situations and ordinary characters are described in familiar settings;
- attention to detail;
- description based on experience, not imagination;
- lower strata of society are emphasized;
- very little use of metaphors.
Principles of naturalism:
- It is an intensified form of realism that depicts a grim reality;
- Nature is an indifferent force that acts on the lives of human beings;
- Heredity and environment are the forces that affect and afflict individual lives;
- The universe is indifferent and deterministic, humans are subject to fate.
Principles of expressionist drama:
- Exaggeration and distortion of objective features of the outer world;
- The embodiment of violent extremes of mood and feeling;
- Direct expressions of thoughts and emotions;
- Use of symbolism and dream-like elements;
- Dehumanizing aspect in society;
- Primitivism – the return to prior-to-civilization state;
- Use of grotesque.
Realistic drama techniques:
- realistic stage settings, mostly indoors (generally consisting of three walls of a room and an imaginary fourth wall through which the audience watches the action);
- real props;
- costumes accurate to the character, time, and place of the drama;
- natural dialogue with everyday speech and local vernacular;
- no dramatic or “actorly” effect;
- addresses social issues;
- the protagonists assert themselves against an injustice that affects them or society;
- the time in which the events occur is compressed;
- the conflict is intensified;
- the relationship between characters and their traits are intensified,
THE AUTHOR AND HIS WORK
Born in New York, in an actor’s family;
Of Irish descent;
Worked as a journalist;
Won the Novel Prize in Literature (1936);
Won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
- “Beyond the Horizon”“
- The Emperor Jones”
- “Mourning Becomes Electra”
- “Long Day’s Journey into the Night”