Because of how much she covets it, Mary’s wedding dress comes to stand for her own desperate attempt to reconnect with her past. In an opiated rant about her wedding, she fondly remembers how picky she was in the process of choosing her gown, saying, “It was never quite good enough.” After describing the dress at length, she suddenly wonders where it is, saying, “Where is it now, I wonder? I used to take it out from time to time when I was lonely, but it always made me cry.” As such, it’s clear that this particular article of clothing is fraught with meaning and symbolic of the fact that Mary will never again be able to relive her past, which she has romanticized as a way of taking her mind off her bleak current circumstances. In the play’s final scene, she appears holding the dress, which is draped over one arm and dragging along the floor as she advances into the room and talks about her life as a young girl in the convent. The fact that she focuses in this moment not on the dress itself but on the life she led before she got married suggests that finding the gown has done nothing to help her revitalize her past. As a result, she has gone back even farther in time and trying to relive her years in the convent. In turn, the dress comes to signify the futility of romanticizing the past.
Mary’s Wedding Dress Quotes in Long Day’s Journey into Night
But I forgive. I always forgive you. So don’t look so guilty. I’m sorry I remembered out loud. I don’t want to be sad, or to make you sad. I want to remember only the happy part of the past.
Looking around her.
Something I need terribly. I remember when I had it I was never lonely nor afraid. I can’t have lost it forever, I would die if I thought that. Because then there would be no hope.
She moves like a sleepwalker, around the back of Jamie's chair, then forward toward left front, passing behind Edmund.
Turns impulsively and grabs her arm. As he pleads he has the quality of a bewilderedly hurt little boy.
Mama! It isn’t a summer cold! I’ve got consumption!
For a second he seems to have broken through to her. She trembles and her expression becomes terrified. She calls distractedly, as if giving a command to herself.
And instantly she is far away again. She murmurs gently but impersonally.
You must not try to touch me. You must not try to hold me. It isn’t right, when I am hoping to be a nun.
He lets his hand drop from her arm.