’neill’s Long Day+S Journey Into Nig Essay, Research Paper
Symbolism in O’Neill’s Long Day+s Journey into Night Symbolism is used throughout O+Neill+s Long Day+s Journey into Night, a portrayal of the author+s life. The three prominent symbols, the fog, the foghorn, and Mary+s glasses, represent the characters+ isolation from reality. The symbols in |Long Day+s Journey into NightX are used to substitute illusion for reality. Although Mary is the character directly associated with living in illusion, all characters in the play try to hide from the truth in their own ways. At the beginning of the second act, O’Neill notes a change in setting which has taken place since the play opened. No sunlight comes into the room now and there is a faint haziness in the air. This haziness or fog obscures one+s perception of the world, and it parallels the attempts of each member of the family to obscure or hide reality. Tyrone, for example, drinks whiskey to escape his son+s criticism of how cheap he is. The reference to fog always has a double meaning in this play, referring both to the atmosphere and to the family. Much of the activity carried on by the Tyrone family is under-handed and sneaky, they are always attempting to put something over on somebody and obscure the truth. This brings us to the second symbol, the foghorn. Mary says she loves the fog because “it hides you from the world and the world from you,” but she hates the foghorns because they warn you and call you backX. This escape is similiar to the morphine she takes, and the foghorns are the family+s warnings against her addictions. When they discuss the mother, Edmund resents Jamie’s hinting that she might have gone back to her old habit; and Jamie is angry with Edmund for not staying with her all morning. Although they both think that she has started using dope again, they don’t want to have to admit it. Because the men in the family all try so hard to deny the truth and to blame each other or
the mother for her affliction, it appears that they all feel some guilt and some responsibility for what has happened to her , and to themselves. Even when confronted with the truth (that the mother is using drugs), they all still try to act as if everything were all right, to deny the reality and live in illusion. Mary+s glasses symbolize her inability to see things clearly. She frequently misplaces them, and really doesn+t want to find them because that would force her to face reality, which she desperately tries to hide from. Hearing the mother moving around upstairs, Tyrone tells Edmund he shouldn’t pay too much attention to her tales of the past. The father says, “Remember she’s not responsible,” and Edmund replies that it was the father’s stinginess that’s responsible. When Tyrone tells Edmund to take the mother’s comments about the past with a grain of salt, we see an example of how two people can look at the same thing but “see” the thing very differently. The mother considered her former home “wonderful,” her father “noble,” her convent days the “happiest,” her piano playing “outstanding,” her desire to be a nun “sincere.” But the father says that she was mistaken, that she didn’t see things as they really were. O’Neill probably felt that these memories were the illusion the mother needed to make reality tolerable; as she remarked earlier, her medicine kills the pain so she can go back to the past when she was really happy. These symbols in this play were very effective; providing the hazy atmosphere and confusion, or the obscured reality. They were integral parts of the play, because they were the root of the family+s conflict and confusion. O’Neill rarely misses an opportunity to show in the conversation and action of the Tyrone family the conflict which each feels internally regardingthe others. It appears that none of them can do or say anything without hurting theothers; usually on purpose.