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Significance of the Title

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Significance of the Title

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  • December 2007
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The significance of a title is not always easy to discover and the full significance of the title becomes apparent to the reader only gradually. In A Long Days Journey into Night by Eugene O'Neill, the significance of the title is developed through the title's importance to each of O'Neill's characters. Tyrone, Mary, Jaime, and Edmund carry different meanings of the title. The words long and night play a major role in the importance of the title to each character. Both words can have multiple meanings. In addition to the long horrible journey each character suffers until day's end, each character also longs and desires to have their addictions fulfilled. The word night not only descries the character journey from dusk until dawn, but night also denotes the reality of the past and the present for each character. To Tyrone, the title represents his journey from a young Irish boy living in perpetual poverty to a rich, cheap, worn-out actor living a life of routine and monotony. The title represents Tyrone's longing to return to the days when he still had talent as an actor and the only way Tyrone can return to the past is by succumbing to his alcohol addiction. For Mary, the title stands for her longing to return to the time when she had choices in front of her and aspired to be things such as a nun or concert pianist. However, like her husband, Mary can only return to this time by giving in to her addiction to morphine. Mary must experience the reality that she cannot constantly live in the past and that her son, Edmund, is not three years old anymore and has consumption. The title also had a different meaning for Jamie. James longs to be an only child again and to be the writer that he had aspired to be. The night reveals that Jamie, like his father and brother, is an alcoholic. Jamie's addiction to alcohol prevents him from achieving his original goals in life. Lastly, the title also has a different meaning to Edmund. The title represents Edmund's longing to...

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