Wide World of Quotes > Eugene O'Neill Quotes


Eugene O'Neill
American playwright and Nobel laureate in Literature
(1888-1953)



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For de little stealin' dey gits you in jail soon or late. For de big stealin' dey makes you Emperor and puts you in da Hall o' Fame when you croaks.
-- The Emperor Jones (1921), sc. 1

Life is for each man a solitary cell whose walls are mirrors.
-- Lazarus Laughed (1928), act 2, sc. 1

The old -- like children -- talk to themselves, for they have reached that hopeless wisdom of experience which knows that though one were to cey in the streets to multitudes, or whisper it in the kiss to one's beloved, the only ears that can ever hear one's secrets are one's own!
-- Lazarus Laughed (1928), act 4, sc. 1

Life is perhaps most wisely regarded as a bad dream between two awakenings and every day is a life in miniature.
-- Marco Millions (1928)

Our lives are merely strange dark interludes in the electric display of God the Father.
-- Strange Interlude (1928), pt. 2, act 9

The sea hates a coward!
-- Mourning Becomes Electra (1931)

Christ, can you imagine what a guilty skunk she made me feel. If she only admitted once she didn't believe anymore in her pipe dream that some day I'd behave!
-- The Iceman Cometh (1946)

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.
-- Long Day's Journey into Night (1955), act 2, sc. 1

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.
-- Long Day's Journey into Night (1955), act 3


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The selection of the above quotes and the writing of the accompanying notes was performed by the author David Paul Wagner.

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