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"A Long Day's Journey Into Night" Character Analysis

2029 words - 8 pages

Eugene O'Neill's autobiographical play, "A long Day's Journey into Night", depicts the Tyrone family: a textbook family of dysfunction. More so than a standard family, they have painful hardships that they have to constantly endure. This story represents one small piece of their whole lives--one long day's journey into night. To begin with, Edmund Tyrone is critically ill, Jamie Tyrone is idle and worthless, James Tyrone is stingy and miserly, and to top it all off Mary Tyrone has an addiction to morphine. Each player in this work comes in conflict with the next and blames the other for all that is wrong, purely because they can't seem to face the fact that they have a highly dysfunctional family. It seems that all they really want is a sense of normalcy. Through all of their hideous problems, they each go into denial because they can't find contentment any other way, but their behavior draws them farther and farther from what they want.In the middle of our story lies Edmund, representing the writer in his youth. He is the youngest and most delicate member of the family and becomes cursed with consumption. Because he is sickly and the baby of the family, he is coddled and loved by his parents, which draws jealousy from his brother, Jamie, who is otherwise his ally. Nonetheless, Edmund initially seems to get along well enough with the family, including his brother, despite conflicts, because his family still has hope for his future.Edmund never seemed to have lived a normal life. As his mother said, "He has never been happy. He never will be. Nor healthy. He was born nervous and too sensitive." Though she is just cynical and guilty, what she says still holds some truth. Edmund is eaten up with illness and consumed by loneliness, and like the rest of his family he suffers from denial, refusing to believe that anything is wrong, particularly in regards to his mother's addiction. Desperately he pleads: "It's a lie, isn't it mama?" but in vain because he knows that all is not well. He wishes to believe that everything is all right so he lies to himself so that the world appears to be the way it should be.Edmund, along with the rest of his family, deals with his problems in unhealthy, nonconfrontational manners. For instance, he drowns his sorrows and disappointments in alcohol. In the very same way, he looks to the sea to comfort him because he had once found contentment there. Reminiscing, he says that his "high spots in [his] memories [are] all connected to the sea." In the sea he felt content because it felt like he fit in with something bigger--something he had never really experienced before perhaps because he never really had a home. Perhaps his mother was right in saying that "children should have good homes to be born in...if they are to be good children." Edmund enjoys getting lost because he feels more at home. In addition to alcohol and the sea, Edmund looks to morbid poetry and literature, but this seems to increase his hopelessness and he...

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