Significance of Fog in Long Day's Journey into Night Eugene by O'Neill

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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 fi...

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...n clarities. The fog is created out of pain in order to dilute clarity. The individuals in this play needed to escape themselves but didn’t succeed. O’Neill expresses the same fear of truth and uses the imagery of fog in The Iceman Cometh. The Iceman Cometh is written in the same time period as Long Day’s Journey Into Night, and is a parallel in the struggle of the past vs. present. The use of the fog imagery is not as direct in this play, but there are subtle mentions of fog in the play, such as “ the gray subdued light of early morning in a narrow street” (O’Neill 660). This grayness is almost identical to the morning that the Tyrone family experiences after being awakened by the foghorns. Both stories spell the gloom and dreariness of these characters and their lives. The imagery of fog wasn’t as prominent in the rest of his plays.
O’Neill had a great amount of turmoil in his life and the Long Day’s Journey Into Night story reflected perfectly the fogginess and daze he lived through. His dark life experiences have given him a rich, emotionally charged place, from which to write. The fog serves as a tool to paint the dreary picture and symbolize this darkness through his plays.

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