Until now Eugene O'Neill's Before Breakfast was thought to have had two main sources: August Strindberg's very short play The Stronger and the autobiographical influence of O'Neill's experience during his brief marriage to Kathleen Jenkins. This essay argues for a third major inspiration, the 1912 one-act comedy by Githa Sowerby with the same title, written a few years before O'Neill's one-act tragedy. Both plays present misalliances: Sowerby's play is told from the viewpoint of a young, upper-class English gentleman who narrowly avoids a marital misalliance with a lower-class actress, and O'Neill's play flips the viewpoint to present that of a lower-class wife, who has made a tragically unhappy marriage with an American writer who is above her in social class. Extended monologue is used importantly in all three plays. How O'Neill may have become aware of Sowerby's play is carefully examined, and factors are explained that account for its heretofore unrecognized influence on O'Neill.

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