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Analysis Of Long Day's Journey Into Night

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“But like many addicts, she is a master of deceit, a champion liar,” Jessica Lange says in her foreword to Long Day’s Journey Into Night concerning the character of Mary Tyrone (Lange, viii). In Eugene O’Neill’s play Long Day’s Journey Into Night, the mother character of Mary often is viewed as a victim, a creature subject to the poison she is addicted to. However, Mary Tyrone proves to be more complex than an addict spiraling back into her addiction. In Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Mary Tyrone proves she is manipulative and cunning and that she wants to relapse into her addiction as an escape. In the beginning acts of the play as Mary is relapsing, she alternates between flat-out denial and lies and cunning manipulations. For example,…show more content…
She controls every moment she is on stage, and at the same time she is barely in control of herself. Her innocence and helplessness and, in the next moment, her capacity for cruelty, to wound those she loves the dearest. Her shifting alliances, her need to lay blame, to accuse and then excuse. To punish and then forgive. She is the most complex and fully realized character…” (Lange,…show more content…
She is always saying this, repeating it in different ways with different words. In fact, hardly even three pages later, Mary says to Edmund, “’It’s wrong to blame your brother. He can’t help being what the past has made him. Any more than your father can. Or you. Or I’” (Act Two, Scene One, 66). Mary’s mantra of “the past is what makes us who we are” appears to perpetuate the idea that she is a victim of her addiction and past; however, it is just another clever deceit. It incites pity from her family, as they believe she is truly deluded into thinking that way because of morphine and her experience with it. In reality, Mary is a product of herself and wishes to continue on in the fake reality her drug abuse creates. Mary’s mantra exists to further manipulate her family and throw them off the scent of her intentions. Another actress to portray Mary, Geraldine Fitzgerald, agrees, saying, “Her Mary was ‘not trying to escape from something so much as going toward something – a place where her son could not be in danger – in other words, a reality of her own creating’” (The Play in Production, 233). While Fitzgerald’s Mary used the drug for a more maternal reason, she still acknowledges that Mary used morphine to create her own world. Mary’s creation of her own reality as an escape is developed more in the final act, when she believes she is still a young lady at the