Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts

Degree Discipline



In the light of the research which seems positively to support the concept that Eugene O'Neill believed in the philosophy of determinism, the writer was led to pursue this study of selected plays in an effort to establish through careful analysis, if, in the exposition of his plays, Eugene Gladstone O'Neill subscribed to a concept of determinism.

"Determinism" in this study means the philosophical doctrine that man struggles, even though he may struggle against what may seem to be his own fate; even though taught by his own past, he is incapable avoiding his ultimate end. His struggle may provide him with hope, but despite his efforts, the inevitable occurs—death, and too often mortal or moral defeat.

This study does not attempt to consider all of O'Neill's work. It is limited to a detailed analysis of three selected plays that seem deterministic in philosophy: The Emperor Jones, Strange Interlude, and Mourning Becomes Electra.

This study of determinism as seen in Eugene O'Neill's plays is an analysis of the philosophy of determinism as well as O'Neill's personal interpretation of this philosophy.

An oblique result of this study is that it shows that there is biographical material that indicates some events that may have influenced O'Neill and contributed to his embracing the philosophy of determinism.

This investigation finally analyzes determinism as seen in three plays by Eugene O'Neill.


Prairie View A&M College


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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Date of Digitization


Contributing Institution

John B Coleman Library

City of Publication

Prairie View





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