“Before Breakfast” by Eugene O’Neill
The husband, Alfred, is intentionally kept off stage because Eugene O’Neill wanted the Plot, Action, and Conflict in “Before Breakfast” to revolve around Mrs. Rowland. The plot is not intended to show the life story of the Rowland’s. But instead, the plot brings out powerful and greatly focused opposition and conflict which Mrs. Rowland is faced with. I think that O’Neill wanted to bring about disturbing emotions of pity and horror. We experience pity for Mrs. Rowland when the author wrights “What is she going to do—have the child—or go to one of those doctors?” And the horror is at the end when the author writes “Did you cut yourself again? ... Alfred! Alfred! Answer me! What is it you knocked over? Are you still drunk? ... Alfred!” We know with out seeing Alfred that he has cut his throat; this changes the scene form one of gore and blood to one of horror and dismay.
We all know from our own experiences that there is always and perpetually two sides to every story. The audience learns of Alfred form comments made by his wife. We never get to hear Alfred’s side of the story. Alfred makes moaning and grunting sounds form the bedroom but never speaks a word in self defense. The audience can for them shelves draw a conclusion that Mrs. Rowland’s point of view is distorted to a detrimental degree. By only using Mrs. Rowland point of view O’Neill was able to focus the audience’s feelings of pity and fear in the direction of Mrs. Rowland. With the focus on Mrs. Rowland O’Neill was able to bring a tragic plot in dramatic form a “tragedy” to stage.
As I was reading the play I had feelings of compassion for Mr. Rowland, O’Neill builds on this emotion until the climax In “Before Breakfast” the climax is at the very end of the play or “Denouement” of the play. The denouement is the resolution of the plot in a literary work (1228). The d...