O’Neill’s Unconscious Shakespearean Orientation: The Comparative Study of The Emperor Jones and Macbeth

Xiaojuan YAO

Abstract


Based on the formers’ research, the paper mainly lays stress on a systematic new comparison between The Emperor Jones and Macbeth from much wider and specific aspects in order to unearth William Shakespeare’s influence on Eugene O’Neill, especially Macbeth on The Emperor Jones. In Macbeth and The Emperor Jones, both Macbeth’s hunger for power and Jones’ lust for materialistic grab result in their destruction. Besides, they are mercilessly mocked by fate, and become the victim of the then society. Thematically speaking, both Macbeth’s and Jones’ tragedies actually are not one-dimensional but three-dimensional, and can be interpreted as the combination of personality, fate and society. In both plays, Shakespeare and O’Neill adopt aural effect to create the frightful atmosphere and externalize the internal fear of our heroes. And both plays resort to similar symbols such as blackness or darkness, the royal robe and sea to depict the characters. Besides, through soliloquies, both plays tend to reveal the character’s conscious thought and unconscious emotions. Therefore, it can be proved that when Eugene O’Neill chooses the themes and special dramaturgy for The Emperor Jones, he unconsciously adopts much from Macbeth. Key words: The Emperor Jones; Macbeth; Dramatic themes; Dramatic devices

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968%2Fj.sll.1923156320110201.010

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