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Long Day's Journey Block 2-1
Long Day's Journey Into Night
by Eugene O'Neill
, and Josh
Character Description or Commentary
Description: James Tyrone is described by the author as someone who, despite his age, still has many positive physical attributes. The author actually starts his description by saying that he looks ten years younger than he actually is. The author also mentions a handsome face and light brown eyes. In addition, he is an actor who is simple minded. Despite the fact that he is the eldest of the family Tyrone seems to have a very immature personality. He becomes very irritated when his family questions him which is why he lives in paranoia; he is afraid that his children criticize him behind his back. Tyrone’s actions are always impulsive and he doesn’t seem to think much about what he says.
Significance: James Tyrone was the cause of all the family misfortune. His stinginess with money is what prevented him from hiring a more qualified doctor to treat his wife after the birth of their youngest son. As a result of hiring a cheap doctor Mary became addicted to morphine. Mary believes that he simply doesn’t have the qualities to be a family provider and that has lead to the corruption of their family.
Strengths and weaknesses: James Tyrone‘s strength is that he cares for his wife at the very least. He compliments her weight gain and makes sure she doesn’t know about what Edmund is going through so that she doesn’t have to worry. His weaknesses are stinginess, irritability, and the fact that he is an alcoholic.
Quote that describes him:
Mary “What were you two grinning about like Cheshire cats when you came in?”
Tyrone “Yes, let us in on it, lads. I told you mother I knew damned well it would be on me, but never mind that, I'm used to it.”
This quote is significant because it reveals his character. He is very sensitive and does not like being questioned. Perhaps it is because of his family history that he feels he needs to prove himself of being a good family provider.
Mary Tyrone is the wife of James Tyrone and mother of Jamie and Edmund. Mary has battled with a morphine addiction for over two decades and struggles with it throughout the play. Although she has tried to break the habit, she always end up going back to using the drug again. She is paranoid about he son Jamie's health and her family finding out she is taking morphine again, which results in her hiding away when she is using it. As the play goes on, Mary seems to regress further into the past. She is full of regret because she married James and never perused her dreams.
Mary Tyrone's significance is that she is a main character and she drives the plot of the whole play.
A significant quote that describes Mary's quality of hiding her use of morphine from her family is in Act II, Scene One when her son Jamie is staring at her glazed eyes and when he confronts her about it, because he knows she is using, she continues to deny saying "I don't know what you're talking about," when she obviously does and accuses her son by saying "Your brother ought to ashamed of himself. He's been insinuating I don't know what," which proves her denial.
Mary's strengths are her caring nature and her ability to speak her mind. Her weaknesses are her paranoia and addiction.
Jamie is the eldest son of Mary and James Tyrone. Although he is 33 years old, he and his father incessantly bicker about his life decisions and lack of drive towards his career path. The two men rarely see eye-to-eye because Jamie would rather spend money in bars and on women, whereas his father is noted for his frugality with money. Jamie’s outward appearance is reminiscent of his father’s physique; they are both “broad-shouldered” and “deep chested”, but their dispositions are what make them foils of each other. Jamie expresses his love for Edmund through his constant worrying over his brother’s sickness; at the end of the play we learn that Jamie regrets intentionally being a bad influence to Edmund. His weaknesses as a character are his jealously and bitterness toward his mother's relapse into her illness and toward his parents' preference for his younger brother; he also childishly tries to escape these issues by indulging in alcohol. In Act IV, he says to Edmund, "Never wanted you to succeed and make me look even worse by comparison. Wanted you to fail. Always jealous of you. Mama's baby, Papa's pet!" His strength is his blunt honesty to himself and to his family, though at times, this could also be viewed as a flaw. Jamie is significant to the text because he and his father's realistic attitudes balance out the
delusion shared by both Mary and Edmund that
Mary is still healthy.
Edmund Tyrone is the youngest of the Tyrone family. His eyes are large and dark, his cheeks appear to be sunken down his face, and is a bit too skinny. He is twenty-three years old and knows what it feels like to work for little in return. Edmund is smarter than his brother Jaime and was also attending college for some time. During the play, Edmund discovers that he has Tuberculosis which he would have to go to a sanatorium to treat it. Despite Edmund following the path of his father and brother as an alcoholic, he has the talent to be much greater.
As the last child Edmund seems to be a last hope to make a name for the Tyrone family. He has the intelligence to do so and some members of his family know this. Edmund has traveled a lot and has taken up a love for art and philosophy. Instead of pursuing the life of an artist he decided to choose a life where he could make a few dollars easily. Edmund has the potential to do more with his life and achieve great success. However, Edmund’s birth was not easy for his mother, which is why she blames him for her morphine addiction. Also, the fact that his father and brother are alcoholics has caused him to become one himself. Despite all of this he still is known for keeping the family together and tries to find solutions to their arguments.
“I didn't meet a soul. Everything looked and sounded unreal. Nothing was what it is. That's what I wanted
to be alone with myself in another world where truth is untrue and life can hide from itself.”
We see here how much of a toll that his family has on him. Throughout the play it is obvious that they cause him stress and are the source of his alcohol addiction. As he takes a walk in the fog he seems to be at peace because no one is there and he finds a sense of solitude. He does no have to deal with the problems that come with his mother’s morphine addiction and Jaime and Tyrone’s alcohol problem. It is clear that he seeks independence which may explain his artistic gift and ability to experience a lot of things in the outside world on his own.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Some strengths that Edmund has are his artistic ability and intellect. If he chose to follow the career of an artist he would be better off than he is right now as a reporter. Also, his personality itself is what helps to keep the family in order. He stands up for his mother and speaks out for the good of his family members. He throws a punch a few times to make a statement but gets his point across. His hard work ethic is what helps him make the money he is making right now instead of being unproductive.
Peer pressure from his family seems to be his downfall along with the constant blame he receives from his mother for her addiction. It is because of his family that he drinks a lot and that his life is full of resentment. He does not have the motivation to go beyond where he is at right now and that is why he must work hard for a living. Without all of the problems he must deal with at home Edmund would be living a happier life.
Key Themes or Concepts
"I knew from experience by then that children should have homes to be born in, if they are to be good children, and women need homes, if they are to be good mothers." (2.2.105)
"But some day, dear, I will find [my soul] again – some day when you're all well, and I see you healthy and happy and successful, and I don't have to feel guilty any more – some day when the blessed Virgin Mary forgives me and gives me back the faith in Her love and pity I used to have in my convent days, and I can pray to Her again –" (2.2.132)
Addiction to Drugs/Alcohol
"Listen, Kid. You know me. I've never lectured you, but Doctor Hardy was right when he told you to cut out the redeye." (2.1.27)
"It makes it so much harder, living in this atmosphere of constant suspicion, knowing everyone is spying on me, and none of you believe in me, or trust me." (1.1.47)
(pg15) – A conversation or a discussion
(pg18)- Easily offended; touchy.
(pg23)-(of the nose) shaped like an eagle's beak; hooked.
(pg24)- A selfish disposition, character or belief.
(pg32)-A remark which is bitterly severe.
(pg34)-To live self-indulgently; luxuriate; revel.
(pg34)- Existing in one from birth; inborn; native.
(pg38)- taken, done, used, etc., surreptitiously or by stealth.
(pg41)- To laugh or to make fun of.
(pg43)- To treat with a strong lack of respect or disdain.
(pg 55)- decline -- typically gradually as with the height of the tide
(pg 59)- laugh at or make fun of--while showing a lack of respect
(pg 61)- to have difficulty -- such as to not know what to do or to move awkwardly on unsure footing
(pg 63)- attractive -- especially of a woman
(pg 66)- talkative -- especially about trivial matters
(pg 69)- calm someone who is or may become angry or concerned
(pg 71)- prevent from happening
(pg 74)- of a chemical substance: corrosive; capable of destroying or eating away such as a strong acid
(pg 78)- beginning again
(pg 90)- criticize severely; or such criticism
(pg 98)- Very careful about how you do something
(pg 99)- Irrelevance, inappropriateness
(pg 102)- Any of various conditions characterized by inflammation or pain in muscles, joints, or fibrous tissue
(pg 103)- A room or establishment whose main feature is a bar for the sale of liquor
(pg 105)- An acute febrile contagious virus disease
(pg 108)- Feeling or showing anger because of something unjust or unworthy
(pg 110)- A sad mood or feeling
(pg 112)- The act of bringing something into the mind or memory
(pg 113)- A musical or dramatic performance or social or public event held in the daytime and especially the afternoon
(pg 113)- A woman who endeavors without sincere affection to gain the attention and admiration of men
(pg 138) - person who has declined in morals or character
(pg 138) - to plunge into water
(pg 147) - a hospital for the treatment of chronic diseases
(pg 148) - sincere remorse
(pg 155) - tearfully emotional or sentimental
(pg 158) - nothing; no
(pg 165) - inclined to fight; combative
(pg 165) - with a deep, scratchy sound
(pg 168) - acquisition of an advantage
(pg 161) - exaggeratedly
Scene Analysis (Act 1)
During this scene Jamie makes a bold move. He verbalized what was in everybody's mind. Jamie insinuates that she is back to doing drugs. This is suggested in the beginning of the story when the narrator mentions that Mary's hands are trembling and uneasy. This is the scene that introduces the problem that this family has with a substance abuse and their refusal to accept it. During this scene Mary is denial. She plays dumb and does not admit to consuming drugs. When Edmund comes and turns of Jamie it is because Edmund himself could not deal with the fact that his mother, whom he held dearly, was doing drugs. All in all, the problem is never actually faced in the end.
Scene Analysis (Act 2)
This scene is crucial to the plot of the play because we learn more about the need of alcohol in the family as well as Mary’s addiction to morphine. Mary continues to worry about Edmund’s health and is paranoid about his condition. Mary feels that James has a different idea of a home than she does and her idea will never be fulfilled. After small confrontation, Mary always seems to retreat upstairs alone which solidifies the accusations of her taking morphine again.
In Act III, Mary, in her drunken stupor, reveals her first meeting with Tyrone to Cathleen. She explains how he used to be "a great matinee idol" that her father took her to see when she was younger. Growing up in a convent, she had never had exposed to theaters, but the two immediately fell in love. Tyrone's fidelity made her say, "It has made me forgive so many other things." It is usually a hidden truth that escapes people who have drunk conversations; in this case, we learn about Mary's past. This scene is significant because it provides insight into how Mary was before her sickness and adds another layer of information to her character. She constantly says that she never used to be the way she was and that Tyrone messed her up; her conversation allows us to hear the truth of her past.
This scene is in Act IV when Tyrone and Edmund finally talk to each other about their differences and try to put an end to their bickering. Throughout this act we learn of many things from these two characters. For example, Tyrone tells Edmund about how his childhood was like with his father and how his father was terrible. Also, we learn that Edmund at one time tried to commit suicide. Many tears were shed between the two of them and for once they came to amends. Tyrone offered to send Edmund to a better sanatorium even though it costs more than the one he had originally planned to send him to. This scene is very important to the play because this is the first time we see these two characters spill out there experiences and emotions that they have hidden in for a long time which they have been covering with their alcoholism.
Why is that glass there? Did you take a drink? Oh, how can you be such a fool? Don't you know it's the worst thing?
She turns on Tyrone.
You're to blame, James. How could you let him? Do you want to kill him? Don't you remember my father? He wouldn't stop after he was stricken. He said doctors were fools! He thought, like you, that whiskey is a good tonic!
A look of terror comes into her eyes and she stammers.
But, of course, there's no comparison at all. I don't know why I – Forgive me for scolding you, James. One small drink won't hurt Edmund. It might be good for him, if it gives him an appetite. (2.1.116)
Mary is trying to say that she does not like the alcohol use and she wants it to stop. Mary is trying confront her husband and sons about their excessive alcohol drinking by almost guilting them into feeling bad for her after what happened to her father. Immediately after she makes the statement she takes it back because she realizes that she has no place to complain because she once had an addiction herself and if her son tries it once it won’t hurt him. Mary is saying this because alcohol dependency plays a big role in the family and she is concerned for her son’s already deteriorating health. She tries to stand up to her husband about the issue but then instantly feels guilty and takes her comment back because she knows what it is like to deal with an addiction herself.
"I hope, sometime, without meaning it, I will take an overdose. I never could do it deliberately. The Blessed Virgin would never forgive me, then." (p.123)
This quote exemplifies Mary's connection to her religion and reflects the influence it had on her upbringing in the Convent. She sets her boundaries according to what is acceptable within the limits of her religion. Based on this quote, it can be assumed that Mary wants to commit suicide, but the restriction from her religion and the consequential guilt she'd feel is what holds her back. Mary said this quote in response to Edmund who was frustrated with her optimism that he wouldn't die from consumption. He brings up her father who had passed away from the same sickness and Mary gets offended and responds with the above quote.
"Haven’t you any sense? The one thing to avoid is saying anything that would get her more upset over Edmund." (Pg.12)
During this scene Jamie was being indiscrete about Edmund's condition; he was speaking about it without much thought in front of his mother. Tyrone warned him not to make any other remarks because he believed that if Mary worried too much about Edmund her own condition would deteriorate. This quote shows the concern that Tyrone has for his family. He loves his wife Mary and he wants to perserve her health. If he didn't love her he would look out for her recovery. in addition, he wants to have the respect of his children. That's the reason that he gets so offended when his children don't respect them.
The American Dream
Although it is not directly emphasized Eugene O'Neil satiracally adresses the concept of the American dream. Mary wants a perfect family. She wants a husband that can provide for her and children who are sucessful. She wants a maid who is worthy of serving her. Tyrone in the other hand had a dream for his carreer. His early work days were not the most successful, but as time went on he was offered more respectful roles. However, he sold himself out to one role in order to provide for his family. Because he stayed in that role for a long period of time when he finally attempted to further his carreer he was not offered opportunities to do so. both if these examples in the story completely affect the well being of the rest of the lives of the main characters. For instance, since Mary did not attain the perfect family she turned to drugs in order to numb out the pain of not accomplishing her failed dream.
The play is based on a family who are all alcoholics and have wasted their chances of becoming more than they are right now. Edmund, who is the youngest of family, has much more potential than anyone in his family to use his talents to make a better living. However, Tyrone settled for making quick and easy money with lower paying jobs rather than fulfilling a promising career. Although Tyrone is an alcoholic, he doesn't compare to how his brother and father get when they are drunk. We know that Jaime and the father use it to mask their problems and it just so happens that Tyrone has acquired this habit as well. As a way to feel that he belongs to the family Tyrone picked up a drinking habit just like his brother and father which is ruining his life. In our society today alcoholism is very much looked down upon however it is still very common amongst adults old and young. However, the same need to belong to a certain group remains and it shares the same ideas of how Edmund felt the need to drink to belong to his family. Although it is no longer something that we must acquire it is still a factor in our society. Sometimes the need to belong can be dangerous to our health and our future as it was with the Tyrone family, but it stills seems to be a value Americans cherish.
Guilt and Lies
In the play, the Tyrone family is known for lying to each other and then feeling guilt. Because of the constant lies and guilty feelings, the family begin to turn to drugs and alcohol to mask their problems. They all tend to live in the past and over think all of their problems and then blame each other for being the cause without having any remorse at the time then feeling guilty for their actions. The way the Tyrone family is depicted makes it seems like all people in American society lie to each other’s faces then feel guilty about it later. This issue make people in society of the time period realize how they treated each other and caused them to rethink their actions before they were untruthful and
possibly have the opportunity to make up for it.
The entire play highlights the dysfunctional aspects of the Tyrone family - only the first scene, where we see Mary and Tyrone walking in from breakfast like an effortless couple in love is normal. The rest of the scenes depict how Mary and Edmund's sicknesses become looming elephants in the room that instigate many family arguments and lead to alcohol abuse. The repercussions of not having family unity are not being able to effectively solve problems and express your emotions in a healthy manner. This social concern continues to affect families across the globe; in America, specifically, this lack of togetherness is the results of many divorces and affairs. There is a stigma that couples in America are unfaithful and marriage is usually not a successful bond and this play supports that ideal.
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