Date of Award

Spring 1969

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Hellman, Hugo

Second Advisor

Jones, Leo

Third Advisor

Sokolnicki, Alfred J.


The ostensible purpose of this thesis appears to be to analyze one facet of the theatrical technique of the playwright Eugene O'Neill. And indeed it is. But it is also the ambitious hope of this paper to go beyond the accomplishments of one man and to make a comment that will strike deep, close to the roots of theatre itself and what playmaking is all about. Seen from this point of view, the plays of Eugene O'Neill constitute a species in the broader genus of theatre. At the heart of this discussion is the nature of the dramatic image; that is, of an image analogous to the image of the poets, but distinct from the purely poetic image in that it is peculiar to the theatre. Such an image must of necessity be related to that aspect of theatre that it in no way shares with the purely poetic arts. It may not, therefore, be a purely verbal image, expressed only in words. For such an image the poets use. Rather it must be rooted in that characteristic distinctive of theatre; namely, that of mise en scene. This concept of dramatic image is of necessity complex, participating as it does, not only in the spoken word, but in the set, lighting, costumes, stage movement, and special effects as well. To develop such a concept and show its relevance to the total drama is a difficult task which demands illustration. It is hoped that the theatrical excellence of Eugene O'Neill's plays will afford this concept an adequate and illuminating illustration.