Modernism in "The Emperor Jones" Analytical Essay

Modernism in "The Emperor Jones"
This essay focuses on the modernist conventions described by Michael Borshuck in "Swinging the Vernacular" and applies them to Eugene O'Neill's play "The Emperor Jones".
# 117068 | 2,420 words | 2 sources | MLA | 2008 | US
Published on Nov 12, 2009 in African-American Studies (1870-1950) , Literature (American) , English (Analysis)

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This essay uses Michael Borshuck's book "Swinging the Vernacular: Jazz and African American Modernist Literature (Studies in African-American History and Culture)" to explore the modernist conventions used by Eugene O'Neill in his play "The Emperor Jones". Analyzing the double-consciousness dream sequences experienced by Brutus in the play, the lack of a female sexual presence, and O'Neill's attempt to use African- American vernacular, the writer classifies "The Emperor Jones" as a modernist work of literature. The paper concludes that, overall, O'Neill's play breaks the boundaries of traditional literary conventions by rebelling against the old linguistic rules of the Victorian era as well as its matriarchal culture, which Michael Borshuck's article states were the core principles of modernist artists.

From the Paper:

"Borshuck also draws interesting parallels between jazz music of the 1920's and the written word that are important to the study of O'Neill's "The Emperor Jones" and the modernist literary movement in general. Borshuck notes how the rhythmic musical method of jazz music influenced other popular American music, but it seems important to note that along with the breakdown of Standard English in modernist literature, there would also be a greater focus on the rhythm and cadence of text and less focus on the direct meaning of words or exact definitions."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Borshuck, Michael. Swinging the Vernacular: Jazz and African American Modernist Literature (Studies in African American History and Culture). New York, NY: Taylor Francis Group LLC, 2006. Print.
  • O'Neill, Eugene. Three Great Plays: The Emperor Jones, Anna Christie and The Hairy Ape. New York, NY: Dover Publications, 2005. Print.

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