A Long Days Journey Into Night - Essay Example

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Eugene O'Neill's 'A Long Day's Journey Into Night' portrays Tyrone family's hopeless review of their past - the circumstances, choices and actions that have shaped the course of their lives and relationships to the present dismal realities troubling them…
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A Long Days Journey Into Night
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Download file to see previous pages The Tyrones represent a typical dysfunctional American family-- James Tyrone, the father, is purely materialistic and has all through his life cherished the Great American Dream of getting rich; but he is an alcoholic with no soft sentiments for his wife and children. Mary, the mother, who lives in the past is irreparably addicted to Morphine; Jamie, the elder son, is a dissolute alcoholic, taken to women, whisky and songs and fails miserably at everything; and Edmund the youngest is committed to a sanatorium for the treatment of tuberculosis. As the play advances the four characters slashes callously at each other for their misery, undergoes bitter revelations and through inevitable self-examination finally realize their roles in shaping their doomed-to- failure lives. The play ends as the family prepares to confront the stark realties through the cathartic cohesiveness of the familial bond and love that has held them together through their unruly past. [O' Neill, 1989]
"Written in tears and blood," O'Neill expounds "deep pity and understanding and forgiveness for all the four haunted Tyrones." [Cited Manheim, 1998; p. 89] Yet, the character of James Tyrone, at whom fingers point too often for the pathetic decay and disintegration of the family attract particular interest for his individuality and the powerful impact of O'Neill's characterization. Even as the reader is inclined to defend Mary and to accuse James for the family's' ill fate, O'Neill sympathetically justifies James through his play aiding the reader to empathize with his character.
James Tyrone, the dramatic representation of O'Neill's own father, is an aging actor of Irish origin, who had left his artistic aspirations and potentialities for commercial success. Yet his confession to Edmund, "I've never admitted this to anyone before, lad, but tonight I'm so heartsick I feel at the end of everything, and what's the use of fake pride and pretense. That God-damned play I bought for a song and made such a great success in- a great money success- it ruined me with its promise of easy fortune," [O' Neill, 1989; p. 149] suggests his deep regrets over his choice, as the reader empathizes with James' compulsions to renounce artistic pursuits in realizing the Great American Dream. As Shannon observes, his gifts have been "marred by the ordeal of immigration; he has borne the terrible strain of inventing himself as a new character in a new society" [Shannon, 1989; p. 278]
James is censured for his stinginess, in both money and human compassion, which according to his wife and sons is the main cause of the pathetic decay of the family members. As the conflicts between him, Mary and Jamie reveal, James is apparently responsible for Mary's initial addiction - he had refused to pay the high costs for a good doctor during her delivery; the cheap quack who was hired solved Mary's pain through morphine leading her into addiction. Embarking on long travels performing "the perfect play" for financial success, he had not cared enough for the family, putting them up in cheap hotels with bad food. Though now he is fairly rich and knows that Mary's situation is hopeless, he refuses to spend money on their summerhouse to make it pleasant for her; and he commits Edmund ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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