Richard O ' Neill And Tennessee Williams

1293 WordsFeb 21, 20166 Pages
Though vanity tends to manifest as the outward expression of narcissism, Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams employ this quality to reveal more tragic truths regarding the inner lives of their characters. For Mary and Tyrone, vanity virtually plays as a denial tactic in preventing cognitive dissonance. Mary cannot accept that her family stares at her with judgment, waiting for her to once again descend into the morphine-induced psychoticism they have come to expect, so she directs the attention towards her appearance (asking about her hair and/or gesturing towards it). However, Tyrone’s vanity is more achievement/action oriented; harboring on his professionalism in having “never missed a performance,” he relies on his past success to…show more content…
A woman whose internal self (a prim and proper gal from Belle Reve) is in disaccord with her actions. Blanche focuses on her beauty yet not because she fears reaching the end of her prime, it is all she has left of her youth, all she has left of the young and proper girl she one was. Whether through dialogic accounts, physical gestures, stage directions or symbolic props, Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams both utilize vanity to reveal a deeper psychological truth beneath their characters; vanity defines them for it works to reveal the layers that subsist beneath it, the complexity that is amalgamated into its singularity. In Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night, we are presented with a broken family that has learned to sustain against all odds. However, what Mary must do to sustain (take morphine) lays the foundation for her vanity. In the first few acts of the play, Mary possesses the presence of mind to refocus her family’s suspicion towards her looks. Upon a family member’s staring, Mary will often ask about her appearance; however, her preoccupation mostly revolves around her hair: Mary’s hands tend to “flutter up to her hair,” “jerk nervously to her hair,” or “flutter up to pat her hair” as if ingrained (O-Neill 20; O’Neill 27; O’Neill 71). Would mere vanity so strongly center on a single attribute? Further, the reaction is not one of inquiry but rather depicted as a nervous impulse, she becomes struck “with sudden tenseness” (O’Neill 17).
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