The Emperor Jones Essay

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Nienhuis is a Ph.D. specializing in modern and contemporary drama. In this essay he discusses the theatrical elements in O'Neill's The Emperor Jones.

The critical enthusiasm for O'Neill's drama has always been tempered by a recognition that he was limited as a writer. As his foremost biographer, Louis Sheaffer, put it in O'Neill: Son and Playwright, "of all the major playwrights, O'Neill is, with little doubt, the most uneven. During the larger part of his career ... he kept producing, almost alternately, good plays and bad." And even O' Neill' s good plays sometimes seem to display his major faults: he is often melodramatic, clumsy and heavy-handed with dialogue, unpoetic in his use of language, obsessed with regional and ethnic dialects, verbose, unsubtle, labored, and simplistic.

But there is one area where O'Neill's skills are seldom questioned—he had an uncommon ability to create compelling theatrical effects. He...

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This section contains 1,899 words
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Buy The Emperor Jones Study Guide
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