Long Day's Journey Into the Night
Act I, Part One The play begins in August, 1912, at the summer home of the Tyrone family. The setting for all four acts is the family's living room, which is adjacent to the kitchen and dining room. There is also a staircase just off stage, which leads to the upper-level bedrooms. It is 8:30 am, and the family has just finished breakfast in the dining room. While Jamie and Edmund,Tyrone enter and embrace, and Mary comments on being pleased with her recent weight gain even though she is eating less food.
Tyrone and Mary make conversation, which leads to a brief argument about Tyrone's tendency to spend money on real estate investing. They are interrupted by the sound of Edmund, who is having a coughing fit in the next room. Although Mary remarks that he merely has a bad cold, Tyrone's body language indicates that he may know more about Edmund's sickness than Mary. Nevertheless, Tyrone tells Mary that she must take care of herself and focus on getting better rather than getting upset about Edmund. Mary immediately becomes defensive, saying, "There's nothing to be upset about. What makes you think I'm upset?" Tyrone drops the subject and tells Mary that he is glad to have her "dear old self" back again.
Edmund and Jamie are heard laughing in the next room, and Tyrone immediately grows bitter, assuming they are making jokes about him. Edmund and Jamie enter, and we see that, even though he is just 23 years old, Edmund is "plainly in bad health" and nervous. Upon entering, Jamie begins to stare at his mother, thinking that she is looking much better. The conversation turns spiteful, however, when the sons begin to make fun of Tyrone's loud snoring, a subject about which he is sensitive, driving him to anger. Edmund tells him to calm down, leading to an argument between the two. Tyrone then turns on Jamie, attacking him for his lack of ambition and laziness. To calm things down, Edmund tells a funny story about a tenant named Shaughnessy on the Tyrone family land in Ireland, where the family's origins lie. Tyrone is not amused by the anecdote, however, because he could be the subject of a lawsuit related to ownership of the land. He attacks Edmund again, calling his comments socialist. Edmund gets upsets and exits in a fit of coughing. Jamie points out that Edmund is really sick, a comment which Tyrone responds to with a "shut up" look, as though trying to prevent Mary from finding out something. Mary tells them that, despite what any doctor may say, she believes that Edmund has nothing more than a bad cold. Mary has a deep distrust for doctors. Tyrone and Jamie begin to stare at her again, making her self-conscious. Mary reflects on her faded beauty, recognizing that she is in the stages of decline.
As Mary exits, Tyrone chastises Jamie for suggesting that Edmund really may be ill in front of Mary, who is not supposed to worry during her recovery from her addiction to morphine. Jamie and Tyrone both suspect that Edmund has consumption (better known today as tuberculosis), and Jamie thinks it unwise to allow Mary to keep fooling herself. Jamie and Tyrone argue over Edmund's doctor, Doc Hardy, who charges very little for his services. Jamie accuses Tyrone of getting the cheapest doctor, without regard to quality, simply because he is a penny-pincher. Tyrone retorts that Jamie always thinks the worst of everyone, and that Jamie does not understand the value of a dollar because he has always been able to take comfortable living for granted. Tyrone, by contrast, had to work his own way up from the streets. Jamie only squanders loads of money on whores and liquor in town. Jamie argues back that Tyrone squanders money on real estate speculation, although Tyrone points out that most of his holdings are mortgaged. Tyrone accuses Jamie of laziness and criticizes his failure to succeed at anything. Jamie was expelled from several colleges in his younger years, and he never shows any gratitude towards his father; Tyrone thinks that he is a bad influence on Edmund. Jamie counters that he has always tried to teach Edmund to lead a life different from that which Jamie leads.
Act I, Part Two Tyrone and Jamie continue their discussion about Edmund, who works for a local newspaper. Tyrone and Jamie have heard that some editors dislike Edmund, but they both acknowledge that he has a strong creative impulse that drives much of his plans. Tyrone and Jamie agree also that they are glad to have Mary back. They resolve to help her in any way possible, and they decide to keep the truth about Edmund's sickness from her, although they realize that they will not be able to do so if Edmund has to be committed to a sanatorium, a place where tuberculosis patients are treated. Tyrone and Jamie discuss Mary's health, and Tyrone seems to be fooling himself into thinking that Mary is healthier than she really is. Jamie mentions that he heard her walking around the spare bedroom the night before, which may be a sign that she is taking morphine again. Tyrone says that it was simply his snoring that induced her to leave; he accuses Jamie once again of always trying to find the worst in any given situation.
Between the lines, we begin to learn that Mary first became addicted to morphine 23 years earlier, just after giving birth to Edmund. The birth was particularly painful for her, and Tyrone hired a very cheap doctor to help ease her pain. The economical but incompetent doctor prescribed morphine to Mary, recognizing that it would solve her immediate pain but ignoring potential future side effects, such as addiction. Thus we see that Tyrone's stinginess (or prudence, as he would call it), has come up in the past, and it will be referred to many more times during the course of the play.
Mary enters just as Tyrone and Jamie are about to begin a new argument. Not wishing to upset her, they immediately cease and decide to go outside to trim the hedges. Mary asks what they were arguing about, and Jamie tells her that they were discussing Edmund's doctor, Doc Hardy. Mary says she knows that they are lying to her. The two stare at her again briefly before exiting, with Jamie telling her not to worry. Edmund then enters in the midst of a coughing fit and tells Mary that he feels ill. Mary begins to fuss over him, although Edmund tells her to worry about herself and not him. Mary tells Edmund that she hates the house in which they live because, "I've never felt it was my home." She puts up with it only because she usually goes along with whatever Tyrone wants. She criticizes Edmund and Jamie for "disgracing" themselves with loose women, so that at present no respectable girls will be seen with them. Mary announces her belief that Jamie and Edmund are always cruelly suspicious, and she thinks that they spy on her. She asks Edmund to "stop suspecting me," although she acknowledges that Edmund cannot trust her because she has broken many promises in the past. She thinks that the past is hard to forget because it is full of broken promises. The act ends with Edmund's exit. Mary sits alone, twitching nervously.
Act II, Scene i The curtain rises again on the living room, where Edmund sits reading. It is 12:45 pm on the same August day. Cathleen, the maid, enters with whiskey and water for pre-lunch drinking. Edmund asks Cathleen to call Tyrone and Jamie for lunch. Cathleen is chatty and flirty, and tells Edmund that he is handsome. Jamie soon enters and pours himself a drink, adding water to the bottle afterwards so that Tyrone will not know they had a drink before he came in. Tyrone is still outside, talking to one of the neighbors and putting on "an act" with the intent of showing off. Jamie tells Edmund that Edmund may have a sickness more severe than a simple case of malaria. He then chastises Edmund for leaving Mary alone all morning. He tells him that Mary's promises mean nothing anymore. Jamie reveals that he and Tyrone knew of Mary's morphine addiction as much as ten years before they told Edmund.
Edmund begins a coughing fit as Mary enters, and she tells him not to cough. When Jamie makes a snide comment about his father, Mary tells him to respect Tyrone more. She tells him to stop always seeking out the weaknesses in others. She expresses her fatalistic view of life, that most events are somehow predetermined, that humans have little control over their own lives. She then complains that Tyrone never hires any good servants; she is displeased with Cathleen, and she blames her unhappiness on Tyrone's refusal to hire a top-rate maid. At this point, Cathleen enters and tells them that Tyrone is still outside talking. Edmund exits to fetch him, and while he is gone, Jamie stares at Mary with a concerned look. Mary asks why he is looking at her, and he tells her that she knows why. Although he will not say it directly, Jamie knows that Mary is back on morphine; he can tell by her glazed eyes. Edmund reenters and curses Jamie when Mary, playing ignorant, tells him that Jamie has been insinuating nasty things about her. Mary prevents an argument by telling Edmund to blame no one. She again expresses her fatalist view: "[Jamie] can't help what the past has made him. Any more than your father can. Or you. Or I." Jamie shrugs off all accusations, and Edmund looks suspiciously at Mary.
Tyrone enters, and he argues briefly with his two sons about the whiskey. They all have a large drink. Suddenly, Mary has an outburst about Tyrone's failure to understand what a home is. Mary has a distinct vision of a home, one that Tyrone has never been able to provide for her. She tells him that he should have remained a bachelor, but then she drops the subject so that they can begin lunc