Eugene O'Neill Questions and Answers
by Eugene O’Neill

Start Your Free Trial

What was Eugene O'Neill's significance as a playwright?

Expert Answers info

wordprof eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2011

write1,654 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Science

Eugene O’Neill was the first significant American playwright in the Modernist period.  With very few contemporaries of note (Clifford Odets, perhaps), O’Neill started the American drama in New England with a few friends (Provincetown Players).  The European influence of Ibsen, Strindberg, and Chekhov almost a century earlier did not reflect the uniquely American dramatic voice and vernacular – O’Neill provided it, along with psychological characterization and a close look at the internal dramas of the American family; based on his own life dramas, such plays as Long Day’s Journey into Night and Ah, Wilderness (his only comedy) were restaged countless times, and were also popular as movie versions .  Two Pulitzer prizes and the Nobel Prize for literature (1936) later, he was known as the father of American drama.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial