Long Day's Journey Into Night

Definition

Theater

  • Eugene O'Neill's masterly tragedy of family life. Written in1941 but not produced until 1956 (in Stockholm and then New York), theplay won O'Neill a posthumous Pulitzer Prize. Successful revivalshave included the 1971 National Theatre production, starring LaurenceOlivier.

    O'Neill's drama of "old sorrow written in tears andblood" was based on his own traumatic upbringing. The action takes place over one emotional day and night in 1912, when all the old frustrations, conflicts, and fears come to a climax. The Tyrone family is in the grips, as always, of the bullying miserly father, James, an actor. His wife Mary is going mad after failing to cure her drug problem, his younger son Edmund (O'Neill himself) is dying of consumption that James refuses to acknowledge or have treated, and his elder son Jamie is declining into alcoholism as he questions their worthless lives. As Mary sinks into madness, she closes the play with the pathetic line:

    I fell in love with James Tyrone and was so happy for a time.
    Jamie's story was continued in A Moon for the Misbegotten.
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