Staging Difference: Cultural Pluralism in American Theatre and Drama

By Marc Maufort | Go to book overview
of personal self-realization rather than community survival.In O'Neill's historical vision, episodes of intercultural conflict brought about by migrations in world history created new transcultural dynamics. These dynamics were significant not only in the evolution of world history but also in the shaping of individual human character. For O'Neill, the reshaping of character was largely a consequence of tragic suffering. The heroes of his history plays are figures connected to and torn by their allegiance to two cultural ethics. Through suffering, a new synthetic character emerges, shaped by history and suggesting, in Emersonian terms, the dynamics of a new and emerging cultural ethos ( Emerson114). In this way, O'Neill anticipated in his transcultural historical epics a central theme in subsequent American drama about cultural conflict in America: the significance of such conflict in shaping through tragic suffering a new synthetic culture defined not by conflicts between communities but by an ethic of personal self-realization.
Works Cited
Bogard Travis. Contour in Time: The Plays of Eugene ONeill. Rev. ed. New York: Oxford UP, 1988
Costa Richard Hauer. H. G. Wells. Rev. ed. Boston: Twayne, 1985.
Emerson Ralph Waldo. "History." Ralph Waldo Emerson. Ed. Richard Poirer. The Oxford Authors. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1990. 113-30.
Fiske John. The Discovery of America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1901. 2 vols.
O'Neill Eugene. The Fountain. The Plays of Eugene O'Neill. Ed. Travis Bogard and Jackson R. Bryer. New Haven: Yale UP, 1988.
_____. Selected Letters of Eugene O'Neill. Ed. Travis Bogard and Jackson R. Bryer. New Haven: Yale UP, 1988.
_____. "The Theatre We Worked For:" The Letters of Eugene O'Neill to Kenneth Macgowan. Ed. Jackson R. Bryer. New Haven: Yale UP, 1982.
_____. "Spiritual Undertheme." "A Touch of the Poet" ms. notes. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
Wells H. G. The Outline of History. New York: MacMillan, 1921. 2 vols.

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