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O’Neill brings out the role of men and women in the society at that time and the difference between the father and his sons. The issue of gender and especially feminism is focused in the play through the life of Mary, who also happens to be the structural center of the play.
A deeper analysis reveals that Eugene portrays Mary in a manner that she has many troubles and has many weaknesses evidenced by the use of morphine. She is being seen as irresponsible mother who cannot quite the addition. In addition, it is evident at times when James and Jamie talk alone and on the arrival of Mary, they shut up. The evidence concerning the fact that they are to be the only persons is from the fact that she is the one who can handle issues since they believe as seen in the statement, “Ive always believed Jamie did it on purpose. He was jealous of the baby. He hated him.” (2.2.103) (Eugen and Neill 103).
James showed man character when he told Mary to forget the past. This is demonstrated by how strong he is and could forget the past. In addition, James Tyrone characters confirm feminism through his appearance and personality. It is evident that the story evolves around him as the head of the family but later we see the role of the woman becomes necessary when it comes to reliance and love. On the other hand, O’Neill uses Mary to show the “struggles that women go through in their daily lives” (Porter 80). Mary is described as a beautiful woman who takes up her role as a mother despite the addiction and other challenges that she has to overcome. For that reason, Mary started using morphine and got addicted to it after she had difficulty and was not treated well at the birth of her youngest son Edmond.
Mary is also depicted as a tragic woman who is different from what she used to be in the past. She was innocent, beautiful and used to have dreams of becoming a Catholic nun a pianist. She also had strong religious faith in God.
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