Essay on Long Day’s Journey into Night

The prominent play Long Day’s Journey into Night written by O’Neill can be called a tragedy. It completely presents the audience the fall of something once being great. The main focuses of the play if the Tyrone family, where all the members are not happy: Mary is drug addicted, Jamie and Edmund are alcoholics, Tyrone is miser and so on. The hope of the parents that once their children would be great and successful was ruined by the end of the play. The play is believed to be autobiographical, it is really close to the life of the author in many aspects. In the play he is presented in the character of Edmund, the father of O’Neill was also an Irish Catholic, an alcoholic, and a Broadway actor. His mother was morphine addict, this started just around the time of the O’Neill’s birth. And finally she had a brother who died being a small kid.

The tragedy in the play is reflected in almost no hope for future, the play was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and was considered one of the most admired of the 20th century.

The main themes of the play are those of past and forgiveness. Past plays different roles, on the one hand all the past sins and mistakes are reflected in the presence and influence greatly the present and there’s no chance to change anything. All these past mistakes result in grievances, thus the theme of past is connected with the theme of forgiveness.

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Edmund can make up with the past and struggle for brilliant career. He is ready to forgive and understand all the members of the family. But on the other hand Mary tries to find a kind of refuge in the past, escaping from the present when she is stuck in this morphine addiction. She is thinking about her childhood and Catholic girls’ school. But now she has lost her faith, she thinks she is now so far from God, that hasn’t even got the right to pray. It is clear that she never tries to find her release and comfort in religion. She sees herself as fallen and Catholicism remains the main source of her fantasies, one of them is the history of traveling with James, bad hotels and food, the summer house. She says that blames nobody and then she is blaming Tyrone for ruining her life one moment, and then begging his forgiveness the next: “James! I tried so hard! I tried so hard! Please believe!” (72), but by the author she is not given any kind of trait of character to create a tragic effect.

The two sons of Tyrone abandoned the Catholic religion, but for his attempts to keep it. The play is a journey not only to the future, but also to the past lives of the heroes.

All the members of the family have the tendency to deny the facts, Edmund wants to deny that his mother started to take morphine again, Mary in her turn denies his consumption. The Tyrones are trying to hide their feelings and thus appears this communication gap. The play presents us the world where communication is broken down. The heroes can not articulate their fears. The whole family is living together, but they still seem isolated from each other, the main activity connecting the family together – family meals are not present in the play, Mary’s isolation is unique as she is the only woman in the family, she is isolated from both her family and even from the reality, she doesn’t go out as she has no friends, all her friends are anxiety and fear, and her three men watching her every step for her not to slip, which doesn’t serve as a consolation, on the contrary makes her feel more lonely.

Men are constantly fighting but none of them risks to confront Mary directly and she is free to lie herself about her addiction and Edmund’s illness. The men hardly believe that Mary will win this battle with morphine addiction, but no one says it directly. The same strategy is used when they decide not to tell Mary about diagnosis of consumption. Edmund dares to talk to her: “I want you to promise me that even if it should turn out to be something worse, you’ll know I’ll soon be all right again, anyway, and you won’t worry yourself sick, and you’ll keep on taking care of yourself” (49). But he again never dares to pronounce the word consumption, he says “something worse” instead.

Mary’s morphine addiction is ruining herself and on the other hand the alcoholism is damaging the Tyrone’s men, probably alcohol was one of the reasons for Edmunds being not well. Mary was trying to struggle from morphine addiction for more than two decades. She has broken and has started to take it several times and in every scene in the play she is on morphine. Though the concrete words like morphine addiction or drug addiction are never used, it is always clear at the end of the scene. For Mary the drug became the bridge from her emotional reality to the present. The effects of the drug are clear from the stage directions. “There is a peculiar detachment in her voice and manner, as if she were a little withdrawn from her words and actions.” She both looses the sense of reality and seems to be aware of what she is doing. She usually avoids the members of the family in order to avoid the possible accusations against her. Besides she is constantly feeling depressed as she is thinking a lot about her slightest mistakes in life and regrets everything she has done including getting married and having children, refusing to accomplish her dreams of becoming either a nun or a concert pianist.

Overall, the drama found the audience among individuals and scholars of American drama, which is one of the main reasons of its popularity, The Tyrone family can not be called unique as its characters and conflicts are easy to identify with. Of course not all families have so many serious problems, but in reality, having even one of such difficulties, like one of the members either alcohol or drug addicted, or one of the members seriously ill, or constant unbearable atmosphere of loneliness and mischief in the family, might be enough to ruin it.

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