Long Day's Journey Into Night
is the story of a day in the life of a loving
Irish-American family as it is torn apart by addiction, resentment, and regret.
It is also Eugene O'Neill's most autobiographical play, hence his insistence that it not be published until after his death. Winner of the 1957 Pulitzer Prize.
A well-regarded film adaptation, directed by Sidney Lumet
and starring Katharine Hepburn
as Mary, was made in 1962.
This play provides examples of:
- Author Avatar: O'Neill spent a great deal of his early adulthood at sea, battled with alcoholism and depression, and suffered from tuberculosis, just like Edmund.
- Creator Breakdown
- Downer Ending: It is implied that the end scene has been and will be repeated many, many more times.
- Extremely Short Timespan: The play takes place between morning and midnight on a single August day in 1912.
- Fatal Flaw: See above.
- Generation Xerox: Perhaps one of the morals of the play, sad as it may be.
- Ignored Epiphany
- Incurable Cough of Death: Actually Tuberculosis.
- Lampshade Hanging: "What a bastard to have for a father! Christ, if you put him in a book, no one would believe it!"
- Parents as People: And how. Mary and James are depressingly human.
- The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: Literally. Edmund tries not to speak about his illness, as he believes it could be his mother's final breaking point.
- The Ophelia: Mary, especially in the last scene. Mostly due to the morphine.
- James: The mad scene. Enter Ophelia!
- Shout Out Literature: Edmund compares himself to a seagull.
- Shout-Out to Shakespeare: Too many to count; the Tyrones are a family of actors, after all.
- Write Who You Know: Where to begin? Everyone is directly based on his real family and even share their first named: O'Neill's father was a famous Melodrama actor named James; his addict mother's first name was Mary, although she went by Ella; and his older brother was James Jr (Jamie). There's even a fleeting reference to the dead infant son being named Eugene— essentially O'Neill swaps names with Edmund the Author Avatar, the actual name for his dead sibling.