Long Day's Journey Into Night

Ephiphanies in "Long Day's Journey into Night"

While the word "epiphany" suggests positive enlightenment, it is only negative in Eugene O'Neill's disturbing "Long Day's Journey into Night." Each family member undergoes a bitter revelation within the course of only twenty-four hours. Through self-examination, the four family members all finally grasp the causes of their sorry lives.

James Sr.'s epiphany occurs in the form of a personal confession to his son, when he admits he would have enjoyed his life if he had continued pursuing acting rather than letting money rule his decisions. James reluctantly acknowledges that his childhood poverty led him to be a miser: "A dollar was worth so much then. And once you've learned a lesson, it's hard to unlearn it (148)." His fear of the poorhouse ultimately causes James to realize that "Maybe life overdid the lesson for me, and made a dollar worth too much, and... that mistake ruined my career as a fine actor (149)." Abandoning his passion as a Shakespearean actor ultimately desecrated his life. He tells Edmund, "I've never admitted this to anyone before, lad, but tonight I'm so heartsick I feel at the end of everything, and what's the use of fake pride...

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