Biblical Themes in Eugene O’Neill’s Plays

Wenhua LI


Eugene O’Neill was born in a devout Catholic family. Young Eugene had fervently prayed to God to heal his mother’s drug addiction, but God did not hear his prayers. Disappointed Eugene abandoned his Catholic faith at the age of fifteen, and began to explore a new god for replacing the old one since then. Eugene O’Neill is an honest, sincere and compassionate dramatist; his works focuses on the meaning of human life. Although European writers and thinkers, such as Freud, Jung, Shakespeare, Ibsen, Shaw, Chekhov, Synge, Conrad, Nietzsche and Strindberg exerted important influences on him in philosophy, psychology and drama, they could not bring him satisfaction and joy. O’Neill’s exploration of the ultimate meaning of life had finally returned to the biblical doctrine. Through dealing with the recurrent themes in O’Neill’s plays, this paper aims to point out that biblical doctrines are indispensable to O’Neill’s plays.


Sin; Evil; Desire; Truth; Light

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