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Scholars Day: April 15, 2009

Physicians in the Plays of Eugene O'Neill

As noted in many biographies, the difficult birth of playwright Eugene O’Neill in 1888 led to the prescription of morphine for his mother, Ella O’Neill, resulting in her 25-year addiction. This familial experience with medical care, as depicted in Long Days Journey Into Night, certainly must have clouded the playwright’s view of the medical profession. But at age 25, O’Neill contracted tuberculosis and spent six months at a sanatorium under the care of specialist Dr. David Lyman. In a later letter to Lyman, O’Neill stated that he had been “reborn” under the care of the medical staff. Reading O’Neill’s plays reveals a contrast between general practitioners or family doctors, who are distrusted and denounced as quacks and charlatans, and specialists, who deliver an expert diagnosis that often presages the dramatic theme. This paper will be published in "Eugene O'Neill: Facts on File" in June 2009.

Presenter: John Curry (Staff)
Topic: Theatre
Location: 28 Hartwell
Time: 3 pm (Session IV)