The Great God Brown

The Great God Brown is a play by Eugene O'Neill, first staged in 1926. O'Neill began writing notes for the play in 1922 – "Play of masks – removable – the man who really is and the mask he wears before the world"[1] – and wrote the play between January and March 1925.[2] Noted for its use of masks [3] the play was included in Burns Mantle's The Best Plays of 1925-1926.


Dion Anthony and his friend William A. "Billy" Brown are sons of business partners. Both love Margaret, but she falls in love with Dion when he is presented behind a cruel and cynical mask, even though he is a sensitive artist. After the two men inherit the business, Dion retires to paint, but fails and eventually dies. Billy takes the mask and poses as Margaret's husband. By the time she finds out, the "real" Billy has faded away. Brown is accused of killing his "real" self, and only the unmasked prostitute Cybel is there to comfort him. Eventually Billy dies as well, and years later Margaret pledges her undying love to Dion's mask.


  1. Floyd, Virginia, ed. Eugene O'Neill at Work. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1981, p. 41. ISBN 0-8044-2205-2
  2. O'Neill, Eugene. Complete Plays 1920–1931. Travis Bogard, ed. New York: Library of America, 1988, p. 1079. ISBN 0-940450-49-6
  3. Lewis, Allan (1965). American Plays & Playwrights of the Contemporary Theatre. Crown Publishing Group, ISBN 978-0-517-50947-0
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