Long Day’s Journey into Night


Eugene O’Neill

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Long Day’s Journey into Night Themes

Themes and Colors
Fatalism and Resignation Theme Icon
Denial, Blame, and Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Isolation, and Belonging Theme Icon
Love and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Past, Nostalgia, and Regret Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Long Day’s Journey into Night, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Fatalism and Resignation

Because Long Day’s Journey into Night is a play about addiction and vice, O’Neill is interested in the ways in which his characters conceive of their own predicaments. Although most of the members of the Tyrone family effectively deny their shortcomings by refusing to acknowledge their substance abuse problems, they also seemingly accept their addictions in a morbid, fatalistic way. For instance, James Tyrone technically claims he isn’t an alcoholic, but he has no problem…

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Denial, Blame, and Guilt

In Long Day’s Journey into Night, O’Neill showcases how hard people will work to avoid confronting their guilt. This dynamic is most evident in the way Mary tries to keep her family from focusing on her addiction. First and foremost, she takes attention away from her morphine habit by staunchly denying that she is headed toward yet another relapse. However, her denial isn’t enough to placate her worried family members, and so she accuses…

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Loneliness, Isolation, and Belonging

A sense of loneliness pervades Long Day’s Journey into Night. Despite the fact that the Tyrone family lives together and is constantly surrounded by servants, they are all on their own when it comes to dealing with their emotions. Mary, in particular, struggles with a feeling of isolation that makes her feel alone even when her husband and sons dote on her and try to make her happy. This, she claims, is because…

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Love and Forgiveness

It’s easy to identify the strains of anger, hate, and resentment that run throughout Long Day’s Journey into Night, but readers and audience members often overlook the tenderness that the Tyrones have for one another. The characters can’t communicate effectively, fight constantly, and frequently accuse one another of malice, but they also always try to make amends. Indeed, their disputes are punctuated by sudden reversals, in which the family members take back the venomous…

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The Past, Nostalgia, and Regret

In many ways, Long Day’s Journey into Night is a play about a family that can’t extricate itself from the past. The majority of the characters are obsessed with periods in their lives that have already ended. For Mary, this obsession manifests as a form of nostalgia, one in which she tries to escape her present reality, which is bleak and depressing. Unfortunately, though, her drugged-out reveries of living her past life only make…

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