Article Title

O'Neill and Otto Rank: Doubles, "Death Instincts," and the Trauma of Birth


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

In one extremely defensive interior monologue in Eugene O'Neill's Strange Interlude (1928), Charles Marsden contemplates the widespread influence of Sigmund Freud's though on the American intelligentsia. In doing so, Marsden also predicts what interpretive tools many readers of O'Neill's plays will employ when digging through characters' psychological strata: "O Oedipus, O my king! The world is adopting you" (I, 34).1 Blithely dismissing the Freudian emphases on dream interpretation and "sex" as constitutive of an "easy cure-all," Marsden also anticipates O'Neill's own frustration with the unrelenting stream of Freudian, especially Oedipal, readings of his plays.2 The literary critical ''world," insofar as O'Neill is concerned, has indeed adopted "Herr Freud,'' as Marsden refers to him, arid King Oedipus as well. Even in studies only remotely psychoanalytic, Freud and Oedipus often appear as "givens," figures who on the basis of admittedly very persuasive biographical evidence must be acknowledged.3

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.