Postmodernism and "A Long Day's Journey Into Night"

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  • Topic: Modernism, Postmodernism, Samuel Beckett
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  • Published : November 7, 2012
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Kyra Chessman
Exam 1 Essay
Postmodernism in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”
Postmodernism started as a post-war movement in response to the poverty and depression that began in World War II in the early 40s. Although both the postmodern and modern literature are bot breaks from traditional literature, postmodernism is considered a reaction to the modernist movement because of the paradigm shift of philosophies. Also, it is a metaphysical movement that questions all the fundamentals of literature that came before in the romanticism, modernism, and imagism movements. Although postmodernism literature has no set definition, common traits include fragmentation, black humor, and challenging the borders of decency which is exemplified in Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.”

“Long Day’s Journey Into Night” is fragmented in the sense that O’Neill deliberately puts the conversations of the family all over the place. Conversation is not a continuous flow, but rather to intensify the drama between the family, a conversation is going north one minute and south the next. This often happens in the play when Mary is having a conversation with herself and Tyrone and the boys are talking around her arguing with each other. For example, in Act 3 of the play Mary is reminiscing about her past while Edmund and Tyrone repeatedly tell her to stop talking and Mary’s next line is, “[goes on as if nothing has been said] It’s hard to believe, seeing Jamie as he is now, that he was ever my baby” (447). By fragmenting conversations, everyone’s and especially Mary’s problems are prominent to the reader.

Moreover, this play undoubtedly is characterized by dark humor. The characters are alcoholics and drug addicts who all have problems with one another. However, out of all the characters in the play, Jamie is the most comical in the dismal sense. He is an alcoholic who drinks all of his father’s liquor and fills it with water to get away with it. Also, throughout the...
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