Essay on Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night

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Eugene O'Neill's "Long Day's Journey into Night"

As the fog descends around the Tyrone’s summer home, another fog falls on the family within. This fog is that of substance abuse, in which each of the four main characters of Eugene O’Neill’s play, Long Day’s Journey into Night face by the end of Act IV. Long Day's Journey into Night is a metaphoric representation of the path from normalcy to demise by showing the general effects of substance abuse on human psychology and family dysfunctions through the characters Mary, Jamie, Edmund and Tyrone.

Mary Tyrone makes the transition most clearly throughout the entire play. In Act I, her hands move restlessly, and she seems to be quite nervous. When she appears in Act II “one notices no
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His optimism is crushed when he realizes that she has indeed relapsed. Mary and Edmund are connected in more ways than a mother is to her youngest son. Michael Hinden notes that besides the fact that they share the same physical features, they have both tried to kill themselves and are both linked to sanitariums (62). Because they are so similar, it is not unusual that he uses her strength as motivation to persevere within his own problems, while her failure ensures his own failure in his mind.

Jamie is the disappointment of the family. He enjoys the company of whores and other alcoholic degenerates. He was expelled from college, and was a seemingly bad influence on his younger brother. Mary blames Tyrone for Jamie’s alcoholism, since he fed Jamie a teaspoon of whisky as a child whenever he was restless. Yet, Jamie blames his mother. “[His] alcoholism is tied directly to [her] morphine addiction: over the years his drinking has risen and fallen in relation to Mary’s cures” (Hinden 54). He had hoped that if she could beat it, so could he. It is apparent that his alcoholism is also the cause for his failure in life.

In Act IV, Jamie admits that he has glorified his lifestyle in order for his brother to fail. This apparently worked, since Edmund too has a problem with alcohol. Although their relationship seems healthy, it is obviously poisoned. It is not uncommon between two brothers that the younger looks up to the elder, and Edmond does. Knowing this,
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