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Vital Contradictions

Characterization in the Plays of Ibsen, Strindberg, Chekhov and O’Neill


Martha Manheim

This close study of selected plays by four of the greatest early modern playwrights, namely Ibsen, Strindberg, Chekhov and O'Neill, examines how these plays challenge long-standing traditions and assumptions of nineteenth-century theatre and reassert serious drama’s place in great literature. The book studies the chief characters from some of the best-known plays of each playwright, recognizing that what gives them strength as artistic creations and makes them so memorable is the essential contradiction at the core of each figure. Michael Manheim explores the complexity of such characters as Ibsen’s Peer Gynt and Hedda Gabler, Strindberg’s Miss Julie, Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya and Dr. Chebutykin, and the members of O’Neill’s Tyrone family.
Contents: Ibsen: Peer Gynt - The Wild Duck - Hedda Gabler – Strindberg: Miss Julie - Easter - A Dream Play – Chekhov: Ivanov - The Sea Gull - Uncle Vanya - The Three Sisters - The Cherry Orchard – O’Neill: More Stately Mansions - The Iceman Cometh - A Long Day's Journey into Night - Hughie - A Moon for the Misbegotten – Inner Contradictions – Dramatic Characterization.