Long Days Journey: The Significance of Fog (8)
A Long Day’s Journey Into Night, by Eugene O’Neill, is a deeply autobiographical play. His life was rampant with confusion and addictions in his family. Each character in this play has a profound resemblance, and draws parallels and connections with a member of his own family. The long journey that the title of the play refers to is a journey into his past. Fog is a recurring metaphor in the play; it is a physical presence even before it becomes a crucial symbol of the family’s impenetrable confusion. It is referred to in the text as well as stage directions in this play. It sets the mood for the play in all its somber hues.
He uses the fog outside the house as an atmospheric element that has an ominous presence throughout this play. His parents and the surroundings that he grew up in were tainted by broken dreams, lies, disease, past issues, alcoholism and drug addiction. There was this web of darkness and fogginess that encased his life and past that is portrayed in this play as well as others by O’Neill. The symbolic implications of fog in the play are descriptive of the struggle in the minds of this deeply conflicted family. The significance of fog in O’Neill’s writing can be examined in two forms. The first is what type of emblematic quality does the fog provide in this play, and the second is what are other plays in which O’Neill has used fog in a similar way.
This play takes place through an entire day where the climate mirrors the mood of the family. “ The play begins at 8:30 in the morning with a trace of fog in the air, and concludes sometime after midnight, with the house foghorn.” (Brustein 1020). The intensity of the fog continuously increases throughout the day, directly correlating to the murkiness in the household. The family’s mood significantly intensifies with the intensity of the fog. There are copious
connections between the life of the fog and that of the Tyrone family. All throughout the play there is a conflict between past vs. present, truth vs. lies, and addiction vs. sobriety. This family lives amidst a haze of denial and as the fog gets thicker, they continue to get further lost.
The fog has a polarity that directly relates to Mary, “… the mood changing from sunny cheer over Mary’s apparent recovery to gloomy despair over her new descent into hell ” (Brustein 1020). The fog is first mentioned when Tyrone says, “It’s too fine a morning to waste indoors arguing. Take a look outside the window, Mary. There’s no fog in the harbor. I’m sure the spell of it we’ve had is over” (O’Neill 736). The introductory image establishes the fog as both the intermediary and a symbol of Mary’s addiction. The fog is easily identifiable as Mary’s morphine high, representative of her cloudy mental state. Mary sinks back into her addiction as the night falls and slowly regresses further away from reality and her family. The fog signifies the state of mind that she is in. Fog has a dense and...