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Long Day's Journey Block 2-2
Long Day's Journey Into Night
by Eugene O'Neill
Character Description or Commentary
Edmund Tyrone is the younger son of Mary and James Tyrone. When first introduced in the play, Edmund is described as a sickly man who has a bad summer cold. It turns out that he is sick from consumption, also known as tuberculosis. Edmund keeps a level head and accepts the fact that he is dying. In Act two, Scene two, Mary said, "He has never been happy. He never will be. Nor healthy. He was born nervous and sensitive..." (80)
Edmund's significance to the story is being on the receiving side of Mary's paranoia. Mary says she should not have had Edmund so he would not have to struggle in life, especially since she is convinced that Edmund will die because her father died of consumption; the suspicions rub off on the rest of the family. Edmund is also significant as he was favored over his older brother Jamie.
A key quote that defines Edmund's qualities comes from Act two, Scene one; he says, "Oh, dry up, Jamie! And, for Pete's sake, Mama, why jump on Jamie all of a sudden?" (53) This shows that Edmund functioned as the mediator of his family. He was the one to tell others when it was time to stop.
Edmund is not always optimistic, but when compared to Jaime he is definitely more positive, which is a strength. Edmund's weakness is that he is too understanding of the consumption.
Jamie Tyrone jr. is the eldest son who resembles his father. He has thinning hair and an aquiline nose. He has an irresponsible Irish charm, which makes him very popular with the ladies. He is very popular with the gentlemen as well. Aside from being humorous and romantic, Jamie has a habitual expression of cynicism.
Jamie has a significant part within the text, especially when it comes to his relationship with his brother. Jamie was the one who had influenced Edmund to become an alcoholic and a womanizer. Jamie had a desire to ruin Edmund's life, which he was partly successful. He hates the fact that Edmund's birth was the probably, main reason why their mother was going insane.
Quote: Act 4, scene 1, page 169
"Nix, kid! You listen! Did it on purpose to make a bum of you. Or part of me did. A big part. That part that's been dead so long. That hates life. My putting you wise so you'd learn from my mistakes. Believed that myself at times but it's a fake. Made my mistakes look good. Made getting drunk romantic. Made whores fascinating vampires instead of poor, stupid, diseased slobs they really are. Made fun of work as sucker's game. Never wanted you to succeed and make me look even by comparison. Wanted you to fail. Always jealous of you. Mama's baby! Papa's pet!"
Qualities of Jamie include being very arrogant, bitter and occasionally mean. However, he has his moments where he is sensitive, perspective and speaks his mind.
Weaknesses: Jamie, unlike most people, can speak his mind. Jamie can stand on his own in a fight and or argument. Even though he is very sensitive in the inside, he can pull off a wonderful facade. He doesn't wear his heart on his sleeve.
Weakness: Even though he doesn't allow the critics from his father get to him, he allows the critics from others do. He cares too much about what others think about him. Jamie is the type that even though he doesn't show his emotions, those emotions get the best of him in some type of from. He allowed his jealously over his brothers to take control; he ended up possibly murdering his younger brother,Eugene and destroyed Edmund's life.
Mary Cavan Tyrone
Mary Tyrone is the wife of James Tyrone and the mother of Jamie (James Tyrone, Jr.) and Edmund Tyrone. She is fifty-four years old, but appears healthy for her age (having thick white hair and a “young, graceful figure”) with the exception of her crippled hands.
In terms of personality, Mary is described as generally cheerful and charming, possessing a sort of innocence that is generally unseen in people of her age. However, Mary also seems to be extremely nervous and unsettled, always moving her knotted hands in some peculiar way or unnecessarily adjusting a part of her outfit. She is markedly self-conscious of this nervousness, which is a side effect of her addiction to morphine.
Mary is significant to the story as she provides unique dynamics with other characters that allow us to see other aspects of their personalities and give us insight into their perspectives and motives. Her husband and both of her sons often try to accommodate her in hopes of completing her rehabilitation and returning to being a normal family; however, their underlying resentment towards her, feelings of guilt, and desperation to “save” her complicate matters and often result in conflict with her and with each other.
In Act III, Mary is intoxicated and high and is talking to one of the family servants, Cathleen, about foghorns and fog. She says, “It wasn’t the fog I minded, Cathleen. I really love fog… It [fog] hides you from the world and the world from you. You feel that everything has changed, and nothing is what it seemed to be. No one can find or touch you anymore… It’s the foghorn I hate. It won’t let you alone. It keeps reminding you, and warning you, and calling you back (100-01).” This quote elaborates on Mary’s feelings toward both her morphine addiction and her family, a viewpoint that was not completely explained during the previous acts. The fog symbolizes the effects of morphine, a pain-killer; it envelops Mary and protects her from the outside world as well as protecting the world from her. The morphine makes her feel safe and away from everything, at least, for a little while. Then her husband and children- the foghorn- call her back from this haven. They persistently remind her of the world’s reality and call her back from the “fog”; Mary doesn’t like returning to reality, and she would rather escape all her troubles by being shrouded in this “fog”.
One of Mary’s strengths is her ability to bring her family together to a certain extent. They are united in their efforts to help her and can often put aside their differences if they think that they are stressing her out by arguing. Mary also possesses a resistance to get high (albeit a limited resistance, it is a resistance, nonetheless). She desperately tries to find other ways to occupy her time, constantly seeking the company of others or some form of attention.
One of Mary’s weaknesses is giving into the temptation of getting high on morphine. She often does so when she is alone or feels lonely. Another weakness is that she is in denial about her addiction, often directly denying it or changing the subject when it comes up in conversation.
James Tyrone is a man with a commanding presence. Having been an actor in his youthful days, Tyrone has mastered both excellent posture and projection of voice. He is also sixty-five years old, but has aged wondrously so that he appears in actuality ten years younger. A thorough bread Irish Catholic, there are also signs that James Tyrone was once a handsome man.
Tyrone deep down has a big, loving heart but his first instinct is resort to bickering and fighting. He is disappointed by the lack of success and determination by his sons and he constantly argues with them about it. His past also plays a large role in his spending habits. Being poor for his entire childhood has caused him to live in a constant state of paranoia causing him to be extremely stingy.
Tyrone is vital to the text in that he is the father and husband out of the four main protagonists in the story. He is also the caregiver for the entire family. A strength about James Tyrone would definitely be his passion, determination, talent, and love. These qualities rose Tyrone above poverty and into the elite class. A weakness would be Tyrone's temper and denial of being an alcoholic. Although he won't admit it, Tyrone spends a lot more time than he should at bars and other drinking clubs. His temper also makes him very unpleasant to be around at times, especially to his sons.
Act 1, Scene 1, Line 45
"Yes, forget! Forget everything and face nothing! It's a convenient philosophy if you've no ambition in life except to -"
exhibiting behavior that does not agree with what one claims to feel or believe
Mary: “Before I met Mr. Tyrone I hardly knew there was such a thing as a theater. I was a very pious girl. I even dreamed of becoming a nun. I’ve never had the slightest desire to be an actress.”
Cathleen: “Well, I can’t imagine you a holy nun, Ma’am. Sure, you never darken the door of a church, God forgive you.”
Mary often complains to Tyrone and her sons that she has nowhere to go during the day and that she is always left alone. If she was as pious as she claims to be, she
would go to find company in the church.
It is obvious that Mary is an addict whenever she becomes nervous. Her hands begin to shake, and she would make a comment concerning her hair.
Mary: "'Why are you staring, Jamie?' Her hands flutter up to her hair. 'Is my hair coming down? It's hard for me to do it up properly now.'" (p.10)
Mary also feels guilty of Edmund's illness; she said, "I blame only myself. I swore after Eugene died I would never have another baby. I was to blame for his death." (p.80)
Mary: "Oh, I'm so sick and tired of pretending this is a home! You won't help me! You won't put yourself out the least bit! You don't know how to act in a home! You don't really want one! You never have wanted one- never since the day we were married! you should have remained a bachelor and lvied in second-rate hotels and entertained your friends in barrooms!" (page. 69)
Mary's outburst towards Tyrone has the audience wondering. Why is Tyrone even a husband and a father? It appears that he doesn't seem to enjoy the roles or a husband and a father. Also, since the mother is dysfunctional and is not sane enough to take care of the children, the only person who was suppose to was Tryone. However, it seems like Tyrone seems a little bit off as well. Therefore the audience can see that this family has no respected leader to take care of anybody; ironically enough everyone in the family demands help and care.
Poverty & Wealth
“More morbidness! Your brother put that in your head. The worst he can suspect is the only truth for him. But never mind. My mother was left, stranger in a strange land, with four small children, me and a sister a little older and two younger than me. My two older brothers had moved to other parts. They couldn’t help. They were hard put to it to keep themselves alive. There was no damned romance in our poverty. Twice we were evicted from the miserable hovel we called home, with my mother’s few sticks of furniture thrown out in the street, and my mother and sisters crying. I cried, too, though I tried hard not to, because I was the man of the family. At ten years old! There was no more school for me. I worked twelve hours a day in a machine shop, learning to make files. A dirty barn of a place where rain dripped through the roof, where you roasted in summer, and there was no stove in winter, and your got numb with cold, where the only came through two small filthy windows, so on grey days I’d have to sit bent over with m eyes almost touching the files in order to see ! You talk of work! And what do you think I got for it? Fifty cents a week! It’s the truth! Fifty cents a week! And my poor mother washed and scrubbed for the Yanks by the day, and m older sister sewed, and my two younger stayed at home to keep the house. We never had clothes enough to wear, nor enough food to eat. Well I remember one Thanksgiving, or maybe it was Christmas, when some Yank in whose house mother had been scrubbing gave her a dollar extra for a present, and on the way home she spent it it all on food. I can remember her hugging and kissing us and saying with rears of joy running down her tired face: ‘Glory be to God, for once in our lives we’ll have enough for each of us!’ A fine, brave, sweet woman. There never was a braver or finer.”
– James Tyrone (Act. 4, Scene 1, Pg. 150)
At a young age James Tyrone faced extreme poverty, as stated in the quote above, and it would affect him for the rest of his life. He made his fortune off of performances and later became a real estate tycoon. However, no matter how large his fortune becomes his mindset will always return to the starving childhood he had survived. This leaves Tyrone to live a somewhat deceiving life. Although he complains of being stretched for money, he does in fact have more than enough to live among the elite class.
Tyrone’s rise to success also leads him to wonder why his children could not follow his footsteps. His two boys, especially Edmund, know what it is to be broke and have liven in poverty themselves. They live off of their father and refuse to go and make their fortune. Unable to find money or ambition to support themselves, they live with their father and his constant verbal lashings.
Undercurrent (p. 19)
(noun) an opinion, emotion, etc, lying beneath apparent feeling or meaning
High-strung (p. 16)
(adjective) at great tension; highly excitable or nervous; edgy
(adjective) shaped like an eagle's beak; hooked (of the nose)
Mephistopheles (p. 19)
(noun) a devil in medieval mythology and the one to whom Faust sold his soul in the Faust legend
Sallowness (p. 20)
(adjective) of a sickly, yellowish color
Folly (p. 33)
(noun) the state or quality of being foolish
Mollifying (p. 35)
(verb) to soften in feeling or temper, as a person; pacify
Furtive (p. 37)
(adjective) sly and secretive
Somber (p. 39)
(adjective) gloomily dark; shadowy; dimly lighted
Rheumatism (p. 40)
(noun) any disorder of the extremities or back, characterized by pain and stiffness
Buxom (page. 53)
(adj)( of a woman) full bosom. Healthy, plump, cheerful and lively.
Divil (page. 54)
(Noun) Irish word meaning devil.
Cynically (page 55)
(adverb) disgusting or disparaging the motives of others.
Embittered (page 61)
(verb) to make a person resentful or bitter
Antagonism (page 73)
(Noun) an active hostility or opposition
Aloofness (page 73)
(Noun) the quality or state of being distant, cold, or uninterested
Consolation (page 74)
(Noun) the act of comfort; solace.
Quack (page 76)
(Noun) a fraudulent or ignorant pretender to medical skill
Contrition (page 77)
(Noun) sincere penitence or remorse
Caustically (page 79)
(Adverb) in a harsh, vitriolic manner.
(verb) to smile in a way that is not sincere or natural
(noun) luck [an Irish phrase]
(verb) to hit something hard with the hand
(noun) a sad mood or feeling
(verb) to injure someone very badly by violence
(adj.) showing complete interest in something
(adj.) expressing a lot of emotion
(verb) to criticize or correct someone, usually in a gentle way
(adj.) showing strong and often angry feelings; very emotional
(noun) a person who acts in a mechanical or machinelike way
Dope (Pg. 166)
(noun) A dru
g, in this case morphine, that becomes highly addictive
Morphine (Pg. 135)
(noun) is an opioid analgesic drug, a recreational drug and the main psychoactive chemical in opium.
Consumption (Pg. 166)
(noun) an archaic name for pulmonary tuberculosis
Sanatorium (Pg. 168)
(noun) a medical facility for long-term illness, most typically associated with treatment of tuberculosis before antibiotics.
Morbid (Pg. 157)
(adjective) characterized by or appealing to an abnormal and unhealthy interest in disturbing and unpleasant subjects, especially death and disease.
Coquette (pg. 141)
(noun) a woman who flirts lightheartedly with men to win their admiration and affection; flirt.
Provocatively (Pg. 135)
(adjective) tending or serving to provoke; inciting, stimulating, irritating, or vexing.
Sentiments (Pg. 134)
(noun) an attitude toward something; regard; opinion.
Pessimism (pg. 134)
(noun) the tendency to see, anticipate, or emphasize only bad or undesirable outcomes, results, conditions, problems, etc.
Ablaze (Pg. 128)
(adjective) gleaming with bright lights, bold colors, etc.
Act I (p. 38)
Mary: "That's what makes it so hard-- for all of us. We can't forget."
While speaking to Edmund, Mary makes this comment. The reason it is so significant is throughout the story, she reminds others, and Mary is constantly reminded of her addiction. Whether it be something she made up in her head, or someone blatantly telling her, Mary has a drug problem. Since this quote is from act one, we get a glimpse into the latter part of the book, where the family lashes out on one another over their various issues.
In this quote, Mary is simply communicating that no one forgets anything, nor do they have the choice. Just before that, Mary said to Edmund, "I'm not blaming you, dear. How can you help it? How can any one of us forget?" The main conflict of the Tyrone household is no one forgets things of the past, making it harder to move on or get away. Tyrone points out that Jamie is a lazy guy, who always sees the negative side of things. The guys attempt to keep their eyes on Mary, driving her addiction.
Act II (page. 77)
James: "As if that could do any good! You'd only postpone it. And I'm not your jailor. This isn't a prison."
Tyrone says this to Mary after she told him that he could come up with her to watch if she was suspicious. This quote tells us that Tyrone would gladly watch his wife at all times if he could and if he thought it would actually help. However, since Mary wouldn't dare to do anything when she knows the others are around, then it would be pointless to come up with her. Tyrone also says that he would stop her if he could stop her perms rely. We get to see that Tyrone is willing to stop Mary, only if it is a permanent way. More importantly, right after Tyrone says this, Mary points out that Tyrone fails to see that this "house" is actually a prison for her, whether he wants it to be or not.
Act III (p. 123)
“Just listen to that awful foghorn. And the bells. Why is it fog makes everything so sad and lost, I wonder?”
Mary says this to Edmund after he says, “It’s pretty hard to take at times, having a dope fiend for a mother! (123)” Because he hurt her feelings, she mentally retreats farther into the “fog” that the morphine creates around her. But in doing so, she separates herself from the world around her and begins to feel lonely. The foghorn and the bells represent Edmund and his father in this scene as they try to talk some sense into Mary; she dislikes having them confront her about her problem.
This quote elaborates on her statements in previous scenes in which she expresses a desire to be left alone but says that she feels alone and desperately needs company. It also gives the reader insight into the internal conflict that Mary has between using morphine as an escape from her everyday life and dealing with the loneliness, judgment, and alienation that doing so creates.
Act IV (Pg. 133)
“Don’t look at me as if I’d gone nutty. I’m talking sense. Who wants to see life as it is, if they can help it?”
Edmund says this to his father after he explains the serenity he felt during his walk on the foggy beach. This quote gives insight into Edmund’s mind and how it’s working in this time of grief. It seems that he is accepting his sickness, almost as if he had been prepared for it. However, knowing of the sickness all Edmund wishes to do is live in the moment. He walked on the beach despite whether or not it would get him sicker. He drinks despite being told not too. He doesn’t want to think of the sanatorium until he actually gets there.
The last part of the quote also relates to how all the characters see life, especially Mary. Mary hides behind her drugs in order to cope with the loneliness and depression she has felt over the loss of a son and the failure of two others. Jamie spends every dollar he has on liquor and women, living in the moment and hiding behind the sins. They all try to distort their reality to hide from the failures of their lives.
Act I (p. 11)
(above: A woman attempting communication)
Mary: "What were you two grinning about like Cheshire cats when you came in? What was the joke?"
This scene is crucial to understanding that all thoughts are not communicated. It is necessary to know that the family withholds true feelings from each other in hopes of not hurting the other's feelings. For example, on numerous occasions, the men would discuss how Mary has slipped or that she's not actually okay. If she were to walk in the room that would stop talking, and would not tell Mary what they were speaking about prior. Most of the time, putting on a front, Mary would jokingly ask, and no one would tell. This would cause a nervous reaction, sending Mary's hands up to adjust her hair and fix herself up.
Act II (page. 96)
(Picture: Mary and Edmund are talking to one another.)
Mary: " Nothing. I don't blame you. How could you believe me-when I can't believe myself? I've become such a liar. I never lied about anything once upon a time. Now I have to lie, especially to myself. But, how can you understand, when I don't myself. I've never understood anything about it, except that one day long ago I found I could no longer call my soul my own."
This scene is crucial because at first she was talking to Edmund about her addiction and his illness. Mary had told Edmund that his sickness was the reason why she became addicted. She had used him as an excused to go back onto morphine. She quickly apologizing and stating that he wasn't an excuse for her addiction, that she didn't mean to say that. Mary then starts speaking about lying; a common characteristic for addicts. Lying has became a habit for her, even though in the past she apparent hasn't lied before. However, when she says that she always lies, how can we actually know that she isn't lying about that. As a matter of fact how do we not know that anything she says right now isn't a lie or is really the truth. Mary's addiction has caused a blurred line between the truth and fantasy.
Act III (p.115)
(above: a cheap, ugly hotel room)
“I had waited in that ugly hotel room hour after hour. I kept making excuses for you. I told myself it must be some business connected with the theater. I knew so little about the theater. Then I became terrified. I imagined all sorts of horrible accidents. I got on my knees and prayed that nothing had happened to you—and then they brought you up and left you outside the door.
She gives a little, sad sigh.
I didn’t know how often that was to happen in the years to come, how many times I was to wait in ugly hotel rooms. I became quite used to it.”
The scene where Mary explains some aspects of her life with Tyrone before she’d had Edmund to him is a very crucial point in the story to both the plot and character development. Until that line, the reasons behind Mary’s morphine addiction and how it started were not entirely clear. With that explanation, it became apparent that she began using morphine to relieve both the pain and stress of living on the road with Tyrone. This shows us that Mary does not use morphine simply to get off on it, but also to escape the reality of her past and the problems that reality has created for her in the present.
Act IV (Pg. 127)
(Above: Two men talking to each other)
In this scene Tyrone and Edmund both sit down and actually have an intimate moment with each other. The tragedy and grief of the night actually brought them together and allowed them to open up to each other. This scene explains certain characteristics and motives for both characters. It allows them to see each other in another light, even if the alcohol is helping them slightly.
Social Concerns/ Relevance to American Identity
A very prominent theme in Long Day's Journey Into Night is that of the family dynamic. The Tyrone family, when contrasted with the ideal of the typical American family, is seen as unconventional. But O'Neill portrayed the family in such a way that the characters were made relatable to the audience; a reader may see reflections of his mother, brother, father, etc. in the characters in the piece.
As previously stated, the relationships between the members of the Tyrone family deviate from those in the ideal traditional American family. This means that families in America are imperfect-- there are arguments, misunderstandings, lies, secrets, and conflicts. This depiction of the American family adds to the perception of America as a radical country that is subject to impulse and change. "Americans rebelled against Britain, created their own government, opened their country to many different types of immigrants, and now, they break away from the common conception of the family," is one way that this perception may be expressed.
This change in the family dynamic has led to the existence, acceptance, and prevalence of "unconventional" varieties of family life.
An issue of social concern is loneliness. Loneliness can lead to emotional instability, depression, or worse-- suicide. The repercussions of this includes judgment and insecurity. Since loneliness can lead to depression, outsiders may view Americans as a depressed group. In the story Mary goes on about how she "never felt it was her home" because it was just a summer getaway from the hotels. She then continues to say how she wished she had friends to come over and talk to instead of the men she was always surrounded by.
Drugs and Alcohol
Drugs and alcohol addictions is an issue of social concern. Through drugs and alcohol addiction, people can become emotionally unstable and very irrational. The repercussions of addiction to drugs and alcohol includes insecurity, stress,guilt and regret and judgment. Due to the fact the addiction can cause people to become insane and irrational, outsiders may view Americans as a very irrational, crazy and a guilty bunch. Throughout the play the audience sees Mary slowly slipping into insanity as she continuously keeps taking her drugs. She slowly starts to do and say things that she would have never said before she had started taking morphine. She becomes guilty with each passing hour, and very self-aware about her family's actions and words.
Throughout the novel, one aspect of his personality that Tyrone is particularly fond of is his own ambition. Whenever he gets a chance he recounts the story of his poverty stricken childhood. The aspect that seems to disappoint Tyrone the most about his children is their lack of ambition. Jamie, his eldest son, seems to have no shame in living under his father's roof or being known as a drunk. The lack of ambition he sees in his son infuriates Tyrone because it is as if seeing an absence of himself in his own child. The same goes with Edmund, but he saw that Edmund had some potential until his brother leads him astray. Mary, on the other hand, had ambition but was then led astray by Tyrone. Mary was dedicated to the church and her music playing. It was all she aspired to do until she met Tyrone at which point she left it all behind her. Now whenever she is under the influence of her drugs, she can only talk about having to leave those things behind. Ambition was part of the American identity, and it always will be. Those that aspire to reach their dreams will receive them and more if they have enough ambition to pursue it.
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