None of us can help the things life has done to us. They're done before you realize it, and once they're done they make you do other things until at last everything comes between you and what you'd like to be, and you've lost your trueselfforever.
If a person is to get the meaning of life he must learn to like the facts about himself - ugly as they may seem to his sentimental vanity - before he can learn the truth behind the facts. And the truth is never ugly.
Written in 1918, this premiered as a stage play in 1920.
It's just Beauty that's calling me, the beauty of the far off and unknown… the joy of wandering on and on — in quest of the secret which is hidden over there, beyond the horizon?
Supposing I was to tell you that it's just Beauty that's calling me, the beauty of the far off and unknown, the mystery and spell of the East which lures me in the books I've read, the need of the freedom of great wide spaces, the joy of wandering on and on — in quest of the secret which is hidden over there, beyond the horizon?
Robert: Act 1, Scene 1
You mustn't feel sorry for me. Don't you see I'm happy at last — free — free! — freed from the farm — free to wander on and on — eternally! Look! Isn't it beautiful beyond the hills? I can hear the old voices calling me to come — And this time I'm going! It isn't the end. It's a free beginning — the start of my voyage! I've won to my trip — the right of release — beyond the horizon! Oh, you ought to be glad — glad — for my sake!
Is it one wid this you'd be, Yank … breaking our backs and hearts in the hell of the stokehole — feeding the bloody furnace — feeding our lives along wid the coal, I'm thinking — caged in by steel from a sight of the sky like bloody apes in the Zoo!
We'd be making sail in the dawn, with a fair breeze, singing a chanty song wid no care to it. And astern the land would be sinking low and dying out, but we'd give it no heed but a laugh, and never look behind. For the day that was, was enough, for we was free men — and I'm thinking 'tis only slaves do be giving heed to the day that's gone or the day to come — until they're old like me.
Paddy: Scene 1
Is it one wid this you'd be, Yank — black smoke from the funnels smudging the sea, smudging the decks — the bloody engines pounding and throbbing and shaking — wid divil a sight of sun or a breath of clean air — choking our lungs wid coal dust — breaking our backs and hearts in the hell of the stokehole — feeding the bloody furnace — feeding our lives along wid the coal, I'm thinking — caged in by steel from a sight of the sky like bloody apes in the Zoo!
Paddy: Scene 1
Or rather, I inherited the acquired trait of the by-product, wealth, but none of the energy, none of the strength of the steel that made it. I am sired by gold and damned by it, as they say at the race track — damned in more ways than one.
Mildred: Scene 2
You seem to be going in for sincerity today. It isn't becoming to you, really — except as an obvious pose. Be as artificial as you are, I advise. There's a sort of sincerity in that, you know. And, after all, you must confess you like that better.
A credulous, religious-minded fool, as I've pointed out! And he carried his credulity into the next period of his life, where he believed in one social or philosophical Ism after another, always on the trail of Truth! He was never courageous enough to face what he really knew was true, that there is no truth for men, that human life in unimportant and meaningless. No. He was always grasping at some absurd new faith to find an excuse for going on!
Loving: Act 3, Scene 1.
One may not give one's soul to a devil of hate — and remain forever scatheless.
Father Baird: Act 3, Scene 1.
I listen to people talking about this universal breakdown we are in and I marvel at their stupidcowardice. It is so obvious that they deliberately cheat themselves because their fear of change won't let them face the truth. They don't want to understand what has happened to them. All they want is to start the merry-go-round of blind greed all over again. They no longer know what they want this country to be, what they want it to become, where they want it to go. It has lost all meaning for them except as pig-wallow. And so their lives as citizens have no beginnings, no ends. They have lost the ideal of the Land of the Free. Freedom demands initiative, courage, the need to decide what life must mean to oneself. To them, that is terror. They explain away their spiritual cowardice by whining that the time for individualism is past, when it is their courage to possess their own souls which is dead — and stinking! No, they don't want to be free. Slavery means security — of a kind, the only kind they have courage for. It means they need not to think. They have only to obey orders from owners who are, in turn, their slaves!
I really love fog. It hides you from the world and the world from you. You feel that everything has changed, and nothing is what it seemed to be.
But I suppose life has made him like that, and he can't help it. None of us can help the things life has done to us. They're done before you realize it, and once they're done they make you do other things until at last everything comes between you and what you'd like to be, and you've lost your true self forever.
Page 63 (Act 2, Scene 1)
I hate doctors! They'll do anything — anything to keep you coming to them. They'll sell their souls! What's worse, they'll sell yours, and you never know it till one day you find yourself in hell!
Page 76 (Act 2, Scene 1)
It wasn't the fog I minded, Cathleen. I really love fog. It hides you from the world and the world from you. You feel that everything has changed, and nothing is what it seemed to be. No one can find or touch you any more. Its the foghorn I hate. It won't let you alone. It keeps reminding you, and warning you, and calling you back.
Page 100-101 (Act 3)
How thick the fog is. I can't see the road. All the people in the world could pass by and I would never know. I wish it was always that way. It's getting dark already. It will soon be night, thank goodness.
Page 104 (Act 3)
I haven't touched a piano in so many years. I couldn't play with such crippled fingers, even if I wanted to. For a time after my marriage I tried to keep up my music. But it was hopeless. One-night stands, cheap hotels, dirty trains, leaving children, never having a home — [She stares at her hands with fascinated disgust.] See, Cathleen, how ugly they are! So maimed and crippled! You would think they'd been through some horrible accident! [She gives a strange little laugh.] So they have, come to think of it. [She suddenly thrusts her hands behind her back.] I won't look at them. They're worse than the foghorn for reminding me — [Then with defiant self-assurance.] But even they can't touch me now. [She brings her hands from behind her back and deliberately stares at them — calmly.] They're far away. I see them, but the pain has gone.
Page 106 (Act 3)
It kills the pain. You go back until at last you are beyond its reach. Only the past when you were happy is real.
Page 107 (Act 3)
I'm as drunk as a fiddler's bitch.
Yes, I remember. I fell in love with James Tyrone and was so happy for a time
What the hell was it I wanted to buy, I wonder, that was worth—Well no matter. It's a late day for regrets.
Interviewing Eugene O'Neill is like extracting testimony from a reluctant witness. In fact, to use the word "interview" in connection with him is to employ almost a misnomer. Certainly it is an inapplicable designation. An interview presupposes a colloquy. A flow of words between two persons. Nothing more erroneous could be circulated about [him]. ... Silence. Silence. More questions, probings, attempts to secure opinions, statements, anything but monosyllables. Futility! Suddenly, I am overcome with a sense of the ridiculous. Here are two people whose very careers oppose this sort of conduct. A playwright who deals in words. A writer who juggles them daily. Sitting across from each other in silence, apparently overcome with shyness.
Carol Bird, "Eugene O'Neill—The Inner Man", in Theatre Magazine (June 1924), p. 9
Not artifice, nor any solacing reason could mediate the authority of his private pain.
Richard Hayes, "Eugene O'Neill: The Tragic in Exile", in John Gassner (ed.), O'Neill: A Collection of Critical Essays (1964), p. 56