Long Day's Journey into Night: Play - Summary & Analysis

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Plot-Summary

      Long Day's Journey Into Night presents the inner story of the Tyrones’ household in a very realistic manner. The play is divided into four acts and each act reveals the relationships among the different members of the family who suffer from ill-will and distrust.

      Act I marks the arrival of Mary Tyrone who has come back from a sanatorium after being diagnosed for drug addiction. All the members of the family heaved a sigh of relief at her miraculous recovery. James Tyrone Sr. shows his happiness by kissing her and praising her bewitching eyes. It is now felt by everybody that due to this bitter experience Mary Tyrone will not touch morphine anymore. Edmund, too, is the family’s worry because he is inching towards death due to the overwhelming attack of T.B. His father’s plan to send him to a cheap doctor - not a specialist - is strongly opposed by the other members of the family. Mary resents being shadowed by those who still think that she cannot resist the temptation of taking morphine.

      Act II shows that Mary’s addiction is still causing a lot of anxiety because of her steadily declining health. James Tyrone, Jr. concludes that a habitual addict like Mary cannot be cured. It is finally decided not to interfere in her private life and not to persuade her anymore to give up morphine. Unable to realize peace in the present, Mary moves into the past to discover peace and security. She calls herself as a liar who has never been true to others as well as herself.

      Act III shows Mary’s total withdrawal from the present into the past in a mood of frustration and despair. She goes almost ecstatic while remembering the glorious past, when she looked very enchanting in her wedding gown. She is now no more a blind admirer of her husband, James Tyrone, Sr. She finds him as mean as his sons and disapproves of his fault-finding nature.

      Act IV shows that the antagonism between James Tyrone and Edmund reaches its climax. They openly criticize and clash with each other on petty issues. James criticizes Edmund for lack of literary perception and Edmund holds him responsible for destroying the Tyrone family. Edmund finally is reconciled with his father for acknowledging his commitment to the family and justifies his miserliness in crisis.

Critical Analysis

      The spiritual development of the characters is subtle and detailed. And the ever-increasing tension of threatening fate, executed brilliantly, derives from the Greek drama. The problem of the drama, the conflict, is the revealing of the causes that irreparably ruined their lives.

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