Long Day's Journey into Night

O'Neill, Eugene

Primary Category: Literature / Plays

Genre: Play

Annotated by:
Willms, Janice
  • Date of entry: Mar-05-1998
  • Last revised: Aug-30-2006


A theatre classic about a dysfunctional family, whose summer on the shore is flawed by alcohol, tuberculosis, drug addiction, and denial of all of the above. Considered by biographers to be highly autobiographical, the plot of the play centers about the progressive retreat by wife and mother into drugs as her husband and sons pretend they do not see. Alcohol abuse among the men of the family contributes to the rising tension in the work, as does increasing concern about one son’s tuberculosis. The action and psychological power of the play accelerate steadily through the first three acts, then climax with recognition of the brutal realities in the final act.


Considered by many to be O’Neill’s finest dramatic work, Long Day’s Journey into Night is a goldmine for discussion of family dynamics under the strain of illness, unemployment, low self-esteem, and substance abuse. The nuances of these relationships are developed with the deep understanding of personal experience and are to be taken seriously as an opportunity for the health care provider to study them carefully.


Yale Univ. Press

Place Published

New Haven



Page Count