Donald P. Gagnon
University of South Florida, 2003




Chapter One
Discussion of Goals... O’Neill’s Experience... Focus of Study in the Plays.... Research Basis of Discussion... Clarification of Terms

Chapter Two
O’Neill and the Rhetorical Challenge... Beginnings: “Thirst”... Bringing it Home: “The Dreamy Kid”... Language and the Life-Lie


Chapter Three
African and Irish Americans... O’Neill and the Culture of Capitalism... The Emperor Jones in Context... Unmasking the Origins of Brutus Jones... Exploring The Emperor Jones... The Failure of Reconciliation

Chapter Four
Early Challenges... Family Ties... Exploring the Play... When Worlds Collide... Going Behind the Masks

Chapter Five
Art Imitates Life... Joe Mott at Stage Center... Victim as Victor... The Rhetoric of Eugene O’Neill’s Art

Works Cited

About the Author

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This work is dedicated to all of the valued teachers who have encouraged and challenged me to become the person and student I am. Special thanks to Dr. Jack Moore, teacher, collaborator, and great soul, for his personal and professional contributions to my work; to my partner Lance Smith for everything that may not be seen within these pages but remains an invaluable part of my studies and my life; and to my parents, Robert and Yvette Gagnon, whose patience, confidence, pride and love are as essential to my life as they have been to my education.





I would like to acknowledge and express my appreciation to the following people who have contributed their energies, experience and knowledge to me and my work during this rewarding process: My committee members Dr. Rosalie Murphy Baum, Dr. William Ross, and Dr. Anthony Kubiak for their direction, suggestions, and interest both professional and personal; Dr. Richard Dietrich, for invaluable input; Dr. Jack Moore for marshalling these extraordinary forces and mitigating the stress that can easily accompany a project of such scope; Dr. Susan Greenbaum for valuable contributions when they counted most and for making the defense as enjoyable as it was rewarding; Marianne Bell for a sympathetic ear and her professional skill in assisting me with this document; the faculty and staff of the English Department at the University of South Florida for their contributions in time, energy and congeniality; Gary and Sandy Redmond, whose generosity contributed in uncounted measure to the completion of my degree; to my friends in and out of academia for their support and encouragement; and to all my family, especially my mother and father, who knew enough to take me to the theatre in the first place.


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