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Eugene O'Neill's AmericaDesire Under Democracy$
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John Diggins

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780226148809

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226148823.001.0001

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“The Merest Sham”: Women and Marriage

“The Merest Sham”: Women and Marriage

(p.157) 8 “The Merest Sham”: Women and Marriage
Eugene O'Neill's America
John Patrick Diggins
University of Chicago Press

The philosophers and playwrights of Eugene O'Neill's era contributed significantly to the misperceptions of women, whom Friedrich Nietzsche regarded as “God's second mistake.” O'Neill would write numerous plays dealing with women, marriage, and sexual relations. The loss of his first loves crushed O'Neill. He could rarely write about women as objects of sensual pleasure, intellectual companions, or as hopes of spiritual deliverance. Instead, he would write plays satirizing marriage, parenting, free love, and the search for sexual fulfillment. O'Neill's Beyond the Horizon has been praised as the first successful classical tragedy in the American theater. Anna Christiewas the first play he wrote that would give prominence to the female character. Moreover, Welded examines the institution of marriage. Sometimes, the anarchist-leaning O'Neill treated the emotion of love with the same suspicion that he treated religion: faith in either meant loss of freedom and self-control.

Keywords:   Eugene O'Neill, women, marriage, sexual relations, Beyond the Horizon, Anna Christie, Welded

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