What Fog Represents in Long Day’s Journey into Night?


            Long Day’s Journey into Night is a
semi-autobiographical story written by Eugene O’Neill roughly on 1941- 1942.
The play concerns the Tyrone family which were composed of parents James and
Mary and their sons Jamie and Edmund. Mary and Jamie were each addicted to
morphine and alcohol, respectively. The story deals with the family’s addiction
to whiskey, the father parsimony, the mother’s addiction to morphine, and the
younger son’s illness. Resentment, blame, and accusation were expressed all the
times by the family members for not taking responsibility and running away from
the reality. The long journey that the title of the play referred to was
actually a journey into the past. A metaphor was used in the play to indicate
the family’s confusion life. The fog, in this play, mostly, meant to be the
confusion life and the escape of reality. This paper explains the significance
of fog in Long Day’s Journey into Night.

            Fog indicates different thing for
different people. The introductory image of the fog established the symbol of
Mary’s addiction. In this play, the fog was first mentioned when Tyrone said,
“It’s too fine a morning to waste indoors arguing. Take a look outside the
window, Marry. There’s no fog in the harbor. I’m sure the spell of it we have
had is over.” (Act one, O’Neill) For Mary, the fog represented the escape from
reality. Because Mary liked the state of having her judgments to be clouded and
not clear, she stopped recovering and returned to use morphine to help her
malfunction her judgments. In act three, Mary said to her daughter Cathleen
describing the fog “it hides you from the world and the world from you. You
feel that everything has changed, and nothing is what it seemed to be. No one
can find or touch you anymore.” (Act 3, O’Neill) Mary’s description to her
daughter was not really about the real fog but the effect of morphine that
clouds her judgment and impair her sight.

The Foghorn, on the other hand, for Mary was a
reminder of the real life. Somethings that took her away from the effect of
morphine world back to the reality. When Mary was talking to her daughter
Cathleen on act three, she said “It’s the foghorn I hate. It won’t let you
alone. It keeps reminding you, and warning you, and calling you back.” The
foghorn was obnoxious and harsh to Mary, and that is why she did not like it.

Another example that explains that the metaphor
fog, in this play, represented the lost or confusion life is Edmund’s
expression. Edmund indicated the idea that the fog was a flee from reality when
he said, “The fog is where I wanted to be.” Edmund experienced his retreat into
the fog with the help of alcohol so did Mary with the morphine. Edmund’s lost,
confusion, and the disconnected from the environment were explicitly shown from
his feeling. However, his family could not read what he was experiencing
because all of them were either drunk or on drugs like his mother. Moreover,
Edmund used the sea and fog as metaphors of how close he feels to his loneliness.
He said, “As if I was a ghost belonging to the fog, and the fig was the ghost
of the sea. It felt to damned peaceful to be nothing more than the ghost within
the ghost. (Act fourth, O’Neill)

The father was partly blamed of all the crisis
that the family had. Tyrone thought that whiskey was used as medicine. In the
play, Tyrone gave his ill sons Edmund a whiskey as a tonic for his tuberculosis
disease. Due to Tyrone’s ancestor, that whiskey was something used like water,
Tyrone believed that it was true and he always gave his sons drinks since they
were littles. Tyrone was grumpy and had some childish quality like fighting
with Jamie all the time. O’Neill described James by saying” a sad, defeated old
man, possessed by hopeless resignation.” (Act fourth, O’Neill)

The fog was used in so many ways as imagery and
with significance as though filling the spaces between clarities. The fog was
created out of the family’s pain in order to dilute clarity.  All the members, in this play, needed to
escape the reality, but did not succeeded because drugs and alcohol do not last
long enough. The fog (the confusion), that this family had, was so thick due
the morphine, lies, and liquor. This family lost its way in life as if they had
gotten lost in the real fog. The foghorn acted as the only reminder of real
life. However, the foghorn threatened Mary.

In conclusion, Long Day’s journey into Night
was actually a journey to the past. All the family members were cowards because
they chose to stay in the past, but not face the reality. The fog, in this
play, was used as a metaphor to indicate the confusion life that the family
lived with. The fog also represented the loss of all the family members. Drug
and alcohol were used to help the family members to experience the fog which
was running away from the reality. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *