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Long Day's Journey into Night by Eugene O'Neill.

LDJIN_Oneill

Title: Long Day's Journey into Night.
Author: Eugene O'Neill.
Genre: Literature, fiction, plays, addiction, autobiographical fiction, illness, acting, family.
Country: U.S.
Language: English.
Publication Date: Written 1941-1942 (premiered 1956).
Summary: O'Neill's painful view of his own life forms the core of the play that centers around the Tyrone family - James and Mary, and their two grown sons - Jamie and Edmund. Covering a single day and night, it traces the impact on the family caused by Mary's relapse into a drug addiction, and younger son Edmund's being diagnosed with consumption. These events reopen old wounds and resentments and initiate a harrowing series of accusations and recriminations that threaten to tear apart the family.

My rating: 8.5/10.
My Review:


TYRONE
Contemptuously.
Yes, forget! Forget everything and face nothing! It's a convenient philosophy if you've no ambition in life except to—

TYRONE
Accusingly.
The less you say about Edmund's sickness, the better for your conscience! You're more responsible than anyone!

JAMIE
Stung.
That's a lie! I won't stand for that, Papa!

TYRONE
It's the truth! You've been the worst influence for him. He grew up admiring you as a hero! A fine example you set him! If you ever gave him advice except in the ways of rottenness, I've never heard of it! You made him old before his time, pumping him full of what you consider worldly wisdom, when he was too young to see that your mind was so poisoned by your own failure in life, you wanted to believe every man was a knave with his soul for sale, and every woman who wasn't a whore was a fool!

EDMUND
Anyway, you've got to be fair, Mama. It may have been all his fault in the beginning, but you know that later on, even if he'd wanted to, we couldn't have had people here—
He flounders guiltily.
I mean, you wouldn't have wanted them.

MARY
Wincing—her lips quivering pitifully.
Don't. I can't bear having you remind me.

EDMUND
Don't take it that way! Please, Mama! I'm trying to help. Because it;s bad for you to forget. The right way is to remember. So you'll always be on your guard.

MARY
I'm going upstairs for a moment, if you'll excuse me. I have to fix my hair.
She adds smilingly.
That is if I can find my glasses. I'll be right down.

TYRONE
As she starts through the doorway—pleading and rebuking.
Mary!

MARY
Turns to stare at him calmly.
Yes, dear? What is it?

TYRONE
Helplessly.
Nothing.

MARY
With a strange derisive smile.
You're welcome to come up and watch me if you're so suspicious.

TYRONE
As if that could do any good! You'd only postpone it. And I'm not your jailor. This isn't a prison.

MARY
No. I know you can't help thinking it's a home.

TYRONE
Angrily.
... I may not go to church but every night and morning of my life I get on my knees and pray!

EDMUND
Bitingly.
Do you pray for Mama?

TYRONE
I did. I've prayed to God these many years for her.

EDMUND
Then Nietzche must be right.
He quotes from Thus Spoke Zarathustra.
"God is dead: of His pity for man hath God died."

MARY
He lets his arm fall to his side brokenly. She impulsively puts her arm around him.
James! We've loved each other! We always will! Let's remember only that, and not try to understand what we cannot understand, or help things that cannot be helped—the things life has done to us we cannot excuse or explain.

MARY
..From then on, all my old friends either pitied me or cut me dead. I hated the ones who cut me much less than the pitiers.

TYRONE
Mary! For God's sake, forget the past!

MARY
With strange objective calm.
Why? How can I? The past is the present, isn't it? It's the future, too. We all try to lie out of that but life won't let us.

MARY
As if she hadn't heard him.
It was my fault. I should have insisted on staying with Eugene and not have let you persuade me to join you, just because I loved you. Above all, I shouldn't have let you insist I have another baby to take Eugene's place, because you thought that would make me forget his death. I knew from experience by then that children should have homes to be born in, if they are to be good children, and women need homes, if they are to be good mothers.

MARY
Nothing, I don't blame you. How would you believe me—when I can't believe myself? I've become such a liar. I never lied about anything once upon a time. Now I have to lie, especially to myself. But how can you understand, when I don't myself. I've never understood anything about it, except that one day long ago I found I could no longer call my soul my own.

MARY
Dreamily.
It wasn't the fog I minded, Cathleen. I really love fog. ... It hides you from the world and the world from you. You feel that everything has changed, and nothing is what it seemed to me. No one can find or touch you any more. ... It's the foghorn I hate. I won't let you alone. It keeps reminding you, and warning you, and calling you back.

MARY
In a detached reminiscent tone.
Yes, you were continually having nightmares as a child. You were born afraid. Because I was so afraid to bring you into the world.

TYRONE
Passes the bottle to him—mechanically.
I'm wrong to treat you. You've had enough already.

EDMUND
Pouring a big drink—a bit drunkenly.
Enough is not as good as a feast.

EDMUND
To hell with sense! We're all crazy. What do we want with sense?
He quotes from Dowson sardonically.
"They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate:
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream."
Staring before him.
The fog was where I wanted to be. Halfway down the path you can't see this house. You'd never know it was here. Or any of the other places down the avenue. I couldn't see but a few feet ahead. I didn't meet a soul. Everything looked and sounded unreal. Nothing was what it is. That's what I wanted—to be alone with myself in another world where truth is untrue and life can hide from itself. Out beyond the harbor, where the road runs along the beach, I even lost the feeling of being on land. The fog and the sea seemed part of each other. It was like walking on the bottom of the sea. As if I had drowned long ago. As if I was a ghost belonging to the fog, and the fog was the ghost of the sea. It felt damned peaceful to be nothing more than a ghost within a ghost.
He sees his father string at him with mingled worry and irritated disapproval. He grins mockingly.
Don't look at me as if I'd gone nutty. I'm talking sense. Who wants to see life as it is, if they can help it? It's the three Gorgons in one. You look in their faces and turn to stone. Or it's Pan. You see him and you die—that is, inside you—and have to go on living as a ghost.

TYRONE
Why can't you remember your Shakespeare and forget the third-raters. You'll find what you're trying to say in him—as you'll find everything else worth saying.

EDMUND
Dully.
I didn't mean it, Papa.
He suddenly smiles—kidding a bit drunkenly.
I'm like Mama, I can't help liking you, in spite of everything.

TYRONE
Grins a bit drunkenly in return.
I might say the same of you. You're no great shakes as a son. It's a case of "A poor thing but mine own."
They both chuckle with real, if alcoholic, affection.


TYRONE
Edmund suddenly cannot hold back a burst of strained, ironical laughter. Tyrone is hurt.
What the devil are you laughing at?

EDMUND
Not at you, Papa. At life. It's so damned crazy.

EDMUND
Yes, she moves above and beyond us, a ghost haunting the past, and here we sit pretending to forget, but straining our ears listening for the slightest sound, hearing the fog drip from the eaves like the uneven tick of a rundown, crazy clock—or like the dreary tears of a trollop spattering in a puddle of a stale beer on a honky-tonk table top!

EDMUND
You've just told me some high spots in your memories. Want to hear mine? They're all connected with the sea. Here's one. When I was on the Squarehead square rigger, bound for Buenos Aires. Full moon in the Trades. The old hooker driving fourteen knots. I lay on the bowsprit, facing astern, with the water foaming into spume under me, the masts with every sail white in the moonlight, towering high above me. I became drunk with the beauty and singing rhythm of it, and for a moment I lost myself—actually lost my life. I was set free! I dissolved in the sea, became white sails and flying spray, became beauty and rhythm, became moonlight and the ship and the high dim-starred sky! I belonged, without past or future, within peace and unity and a wild joy, within something greater than my own life, or the life of Man, to Life itself! To God, if you want to put it that way. Then another time, on the American Line, when I was lookout on the crow's nest in the dawn watch. A calm sea, that time. Only a lazy ground swell and a slow drowsy roll of the ship. The passengers asleep and none of the crew in sight. No sound of man. Black smoke pouring from the tunnels behind and beneath me. Dreaming, not keeping lookout, feeling alone, and above, and apart, watching the dawn creep like a painted dream over the sky and sea which slept together. Then the moment of ecstatic freedom came. The peace, the end of the quest, the last harbor, the joy of belonging to a fulfillment beyond men's lousy, pitiful, greedy fears and hopes and dreams! And several other times in my life, when I was swimming far out, or lying alone on a beach, I have had the same experience. Became the sun, the hot sand, green seaweed anchored to a rock, swaying in the tide. Like a saint's vision of beatitude. Like the veil of things as they seem drawn back by an unseen hand. For a second you see—and seeing the secret, are the secret. For a second there is meaning! Then the hand lets the veil fall and you are alone, lost in the fog again, and you stumble on toward nowhere, for no good reason!
He grins wryly.
It was a great mistake, my being born a man, I would have been much more successful as a sea gull or a fish. As it is, I will always be a stranger who never feels at home, who does not really want and is not really wanted, who can never belong, who must always be a little in love with death!

EDMUND
Changing the subject.
What did you do uptown tonight? Go to Mamie Burns?

JAMIE
Very drunk, his head nodding.
Sure thing. Where else could I find suitable feminine companionship? And love. Don't forget love. What is a man without a good woman's love? A God-damned hollow shell.

JAMIE
..What I wanted to say is, I'd like to see you become the greatest success in the world. But you'd better be on your guard. Because I'll do my damnedest to make you fail. Can't help it. I hate myself. Got to take revenge. On everyone else. Especially you. Oscar Wilde's "Reading Gaol" has the dope twisted. The man was dead and so he had to kill the thing he loved. That's what it ought to be.The dead part of me hopes you won't get well. Maybe he's even glad the game has got Mama again! He wants company, he doesn't wan tot be the only corpse in the house! ... Only don't forget me. Remember I warned you—for your sake. Give me credit. Greater love hath no man than this, that he saveth his brother from himself.
Tags: 1940s - fiction, 1940s - plays, 20th century - fiction, 20th century - plays, acting (theatre) (fiction), addiction (fiction), american - fiction, american - plays, autobiographical fiction, drugs (fiction), family saga, fiction, fiction based on real events, illness (fiction), literature, my favourite books, plays
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