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The success of The Emperor Jones was not readily repeated, and for the rest of the year, and for part of 1921, O’Neill pulled back toward a curiously domestic kind of play. He completed Gold, the full-length version of Where the Cross Is Made, and, in the fall, his play of the life of a New England spinster, Diff’rent. By March, 1921, he had finished the first draft of his autobiographical play, The First Man. The Ole Davil, the revision of 1918’s Chris Christopherson, was completed in the fall of 1920 and was finally readied for production as “Anna Christie” in i 921. No one of these has the range and excitement of The Emperor Jones, and only one, “Anna Christie,” was successfully produced.

Gold, which J. D. Williams produced on June 1, 1921, is a play of very little interest, elaborating without significant incrementation of meaning the narrative of its one-act predecessor. The first act, pure Robert Louis Stevenson, details the finding of the treasure and adds to the adventure the murder of two members of the crew who refuse to believe that the treasure is other than Malayan junk jewelry. The second act is concerned with the Captain’s sense of guilt and the beginnings of the retributive madness that will overtake him and his family. In the final acts, retribution comes in the death of the Captain’s wife, the loss of the treasure ship and, at the end, Bartlett’s own admission, shortly before he dies, that the treasure is junk.

In the longer version, O’Neill loses sight of what was most powerful in the shorter—the sustaining lie of the pipe dream. Although an almost maniacal belief in the gold causes Captain Bartlett to put the treasure hunt above all other obligations, he resembles more the whale hunter of Ile, a seeker after a purely materialistic goal, than the ghost-ridden dreamer of the one-act play. As he appears in the longer play, he is involved chiefly in a struggle with his wife and with his conscience. She has learned of his complicity in the murder of the crewmen, and his guilt causes an estrangement between them, so that in the end she sickens and dies. The concentration on family problems and matters of conscience diffuses whatever power the short play had, and loses the theme of the dream and madness.

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