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Long Day's Journey into Night | Study Guide

Eugene O'Neill

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Course Hero. "Long Day's Journey into Night Study Guide." Course Hero. 28 June 2019. Web. 29 May 2023. <>.

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Course Hero. "Long Day's Journey into Night Study Guide." June 28, 2019. Accessed May 29, 2023.


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Long Day's Journey into Night | Symbols



Fog represents the comfort of denial and Mary's mental state after she takes her medicine, which she is addicted to. In Act 1 Mary complains about the fog. This reflects her fear that she will slip back into using morphine again. Tyrone predicted that the fog is gone for good, but he later has to admit it is returning—just as Mary's addiction is resurfacing. Later in the play, after Mary has been sneaking up to her room to take opium, Mary claims to love the fog. Edmund also appreciates the fog's creating an atmosphere "where truth is untrue and life can hide from itself." The fog symbolizes his denial of his fears about being seriously ill. Jamie and Edmund refer to Mary's addiction as a "fog" as well.


The bottles of alcohol represent the men's form of self-medication, a slightly less destructive version of Mary's morphine addiction. The way each male character relates to alcohol reveals something about his personality. Tyrone keeps the alcohol to himself, out of stinginess and a vague sense of parental duty. Edmund and Jamie engage in adolescent behavior to trick Tyrone so they can have a drink, and when they get a little money they go on a spree and get very drunk. Tyrone alternates between trying to prevent them from drinking and offering them drinks, perhaps recognizing that his sons, like himself, need their own way to block out the pain of Mary's addiction.

Wedding Dress

Mary's wedding dress symbolizes her hopes for the future that never came to pass. In Act 3 she describes the great effort she took to select her wedding dress and to make herself look as beautiful as possible. She then says she no longer knows where the dress is, suggesting that the dreams for her marriage have also been lost over time. When she reappears carrying the dress in the final act, she has little understanding of what it is or why she has it. Tyrone takes it from her with "an unconscious clumsy, protective gentleness." He is the only one left who remembers her in the dress and who recalls the hopeful dreams they once had for their marriage. As Mary says in her last line, when she fell in love with Tyrone she was "so happy for a time." The dress symbolizes this happiness, now neglected and forgotten.

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