Long Day's Journey into Night

by Eugene O’Neill
Start Free Trial

Each member of the family has an escape from reality. What are these?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Tyrone family is not unlike many of our own, with demons from the past poking their faces into the hazy reality of each characters life. For the aging father, James Tyrone, his reality is that of caring for an addicted wife and the realization that his two son's have not lived up to his image of success.  One of his son's is dying of a fatal illness.  Is it any wonder that he drowns his sorrows in whiskey?  

As the long day turns into night for Mary Tyrone, the once beautiful mother of the family, she turns to her morphine for escape.  She has lost one son, and another one is dying.  This alone would be cause for such grief; however, Mary also seems to miss the days of her youth, days when she was beautiful and when life was full of promise.  Those days having passed, Mary escapes the depression and grief with morphine.

Life father (and mother), like sons!  The two sons have adopted their parents' coping styles.   The older son, Jamie, is described as an

...unabashed and unapologetic drunk, with a history of failing at most everything he has tried...  

His lack of success in life has led him to bury his lack of confidence in alcohol and prostitutes.  

Edmund, the younger son, seems to actually have real problems to escape. He has lived with the guilt of accidentally exposing his younger brother to a fatal illness.  In addition, he is clearly dying of consumption, a fact that his mother fails to admit to and his father seems to ignor.  He seems to drown his reality in denial.

All these family members, like many people we know, attempt to deny the realities of their lives.  Their attempts range from alcohol to morphine to denial.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team