Long Day's Journey Into Night: A Dysfunctional Family's Portrayal

Each character caught up in their own cycle of self-destruction and method of escaping their reality that they do not realize that they are making their present situation that much worse. Mary, Tyrone, Jamie and Edmund have all mastered the art of denial, but have failed to understand the concept of responsibility and forgiveness. Throughout the play, O'Neill's theme is one of a disclosure into the life of a seemingly normal family on the outside yet convoluted with bitterness on the inside, bringing O'Neill's premise of illusion and truth into the whole story.

Mary Tyrone, a once beautiful girl who dreamed about becoming a nun or perhaps a pianist, has become terribly unsatisfied with the turn of events of her life and the person she has become, tries to flee the self proclaimed world of evils she is living in mainly through her morphine use. She blames her addiction to morphine on the stinginess of her husband, who hired a slip-shod doctor to prescribe her pain killers for the pain giving birth had caused her.

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Though she blames her husband it is Mary's own anguish and guilt that caused her to keep coming back to the drugs, the guilt of leaving her baby alone with her son, which caused him to die, the guilt of letting her family slip into such a degree of disparity, that's what she wanted to run away from and that's why she is addicted to morphine. Throughout the story there is much mention of a fog that surrounds the house, "[Fog] hides you from the world and the world from you.

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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 . . . " (O'Neill 98-99). The fog symbolizes the alternate reality that Mary enters when she takes morphine. It's like the rest of the world is not there, and no one can reach into the fog where she is. The foghorn is a constant reminder that the fog is present and therefore points out to the reader the family had problems they can't control. Another method of forgetting reality Mary used was seeking refuge in her past, which caused her much resentment but did so time and time again like her morphine habit.

She uses an idealized recreation of her girlhood as an escapist fantasy for all the turmoil that is going on around her. James, Tyrone as referred to by the family, is the husband and father who escapes the pressure of the expectancy and the blame that his whole family has put on him by drinking. Tyrone who had a rough childhood became an actor to soon become washed up because he takes the road of money instead of following his passion, cannot forgive his mistake and blames the downfall of his life on that single decision.

The family seems to hold resentment toward him for his bad investment decisions and his frugality. See the reason for Tyrone's prudence is to save money so that his family wouldn't have to endure the extremely underprivileged conditions he had to endure while growing up. Except what Tyrone doesn't realize is that he is saving so he can become the hero in a hypothetical situation while ignoring the needs of the family in the present. Both of the boys, Jamie and Edmund have both followed in their father's footsteps and become alcoholics themselves.

Jamie, the family disappointment, ever so jealous of Edmund wishes that his younger would fail so he wouldn't make Jamie look so bad and Edmund has always had the burden of not feeling part of the family only as a replacement for his deceased brother Eugene both turn to alcohol to numb their pain. Edmund also tried to break away from his family's troubles by leaving his home but was forced to come back when he ran out of money. The brothers use their little squabbles and sibling rivalry as a way to entertain themselves and take up their time so they wont have to think about the problems that are going on most of the time.

Out of all the characters in the play, they seem to be the ones with the most grasp on reality but are silenced by the denials of their mother and father. For example when Jamie expressed a concern for his brothers health and his consumption, his mother snaps back with "why do you say that? It is just a cold! Anyone can tell that! You always imagine things! "(O'Neill, 26) quieting Jamie's unease. Throughout the whole play we are forced to listen to the family fight about the same arguments repeatedly, because though the Tyrones do fight, they always hide and suppress the most important feelings and nothing therefore gets resolved.

Anytime that any of the Tyrones tries to speak up for one of their concerns or about what goes on in the family, they are either silenced, reminded that those are one of the forbidden topics that they shouldn't speak about, or are told not to listen. " Now, now, lad. You better than pay attention" (O'Neill, 112). It seems that the only way the Tyrone family knows how to deal with problems is by avoidance, and the images of light and dark used throughout the story convey the difference between truth and "hiding in the shadows". A Long Day's Journey Into Night" is a metaphor for how the family's once great and bright past leads into the misery that is their present. Maybe the family's despair comes as an effect of their escape from reality by means of morphine, alcohol addiction, and self congratulatory delusion, or maybe because each persons isolation from each other and lack of family bonding experiences (notice that they don't even eat dinner together). What they haven't realized is that by totally ignoring their present and trying to hide all their pain they are only blinding themselves to the good in their lives and jeopardizing their future happiness as well.

Updated: May 03, 2023
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Long Day's Journey Into Night: A Dysfunctional Family's Portrayal. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/long-days-journey-night-play-eugene-oneill-portrays-actions-dysfunctional-family-new-essay

Long Day's Journey Into Night: A Dysfunctional Family's Portrayal essay
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