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

Essay by usernamoHigh School, 11th gradeA-, March 2006

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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...