Eugene O’Neil’s Use of Interior Monologue in Strange Interlude

Speaking with himself.

There is a consensus of perceptions that O’Neill as an artist developed over the years and that he experimented with a broad range of techniques in his long dramatic career. One of his remarkable experimentations in the middle part of his dramatic career pertains to the use of interior monologue technique in Strange Interlude. It is important as the technique had already been used by such prominent stream of consciousness writers as Virginia Woolf in her fiction. The technique, however, serves more to highlight limitations of the thoughts and their unusual fixed pattern. Human consciousness in normal condition is characterized by a consistent flow of thoughts. Besides, the thought processes of all the principal characters reflect a diseased pattern that disrupts their normal thinking and keeps it confined to what may be called zones of reflections. It is unusual that all the principal figures have similar zone of reflection that moves around a particular person, mood or desire without any recognizable variation and development in the nature of reflection in the whole play. Then these reflections are repeated with a teasing persistency that assumes a mechanical format for easy predictability of the readers. Thus an impression of stasis in thoughts imposes itself on these thinking patterns with negative and non cathartic impact on the readers’ thoughts, sensibilities and imagination.

Asim Karim