Character Profiles From O


Character Profiles From O’neil’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” Essay, Research Paper

James Tyrone

Description: James Tyrone is 65 years of age, but looks to be in early 50’s. He is about 5ft 8inches tall, is broad-shouldered, and deep-chested but appears taller and more slender due to his soldierly posture. Walks tall, head up, chest out, stomach in and shoulders squared. Very attractive for being older, he has deep set dark brown eyes and thinning gray hair. Sports a full white beard. Personality can be described as cheap, penny- pinching and stubborn. Has a very strong reputation of alcoholism and often turns to denial when faced with serious issues. Not to be trusted…. to fix serious family problems.

Relationships: Married to Mary, of whom he is afraid to confront about such issues as her abuse and addiction to drugs. Won’t try to solve problems, but basks in alcohol as a means of forgetting them. James is father to Jamie (who seems to have inherited alcoholism) and Edmund (who is dying of “consumption”). James often blames Jamie’s drinking and brothel frequenting for the family’s problems, driving Jamie farther into his hole of despair. James seems resentful of Edmund who, being ill, costs great amounts of money to care for and still insists on turning the lights on. James himself tries not to add to the family’s problems directly, but in avoiding them so much as to turn to drinking in order to forget them completely, he almost triples the depression and dysfunction.

Attitude: Because of a hard time as a child, helping to raise a family with his struggling mother, James Tyrone grew up spending money as little as possible. He grew up learning to find the cheapest route, learning to save every possible dime and learning that others prosper off their pain (which is why he refuses, continuously, not to “make those damn electric power companies rich”).

Goals/Dreams/Values: Had wanted to become a great actor, one of the greatest of his time…and he easily could have been. Sadly his dream was destroyed after buying a script he thought would be one of his greatest investments, and it was, too good actually. He became recognized as one character, he became lost in that character and completely lost his talent of versatility. No longer capable of learning new scripts or portraying new characters, James lost himself, and his dreams, in a prosperous play for the rest of time.

Mary Tyrone

Description: Mary is 54 and of medium height. With a young, graceful figure, and a small amount of plumpness, Mary shows little sign of middle age waist and hips. Appearance is that of a very Irish woman. White hair is always tightly pulled up and back perfectly. Has a jittering, nervous tendency to her behavior. Her hands never stay still, stricken by rheumatism, they are scraggly and shaky. Mary herself is a very elusive person, falling in and out of her Morphine addiction. She is a very nervous, yet level-headed woman when not on drugs, but when under the influence becomes distant and whimsical (as though she were still a very young, innocent, naive child).

Relationships: Married to Tyrone, of whom she distances herself from as much as possible. Avoids much of family, in order to do her drugs without accusations against her (despite the truth in the accusations). Mother to Jamie, who’s drinking problems she almost seems to defend, mostly, it seems, to take the attention off of her obvious problems and place it on his. Such behavior only reminds Jamie more and more of her obvious morphine problems and once again he is pushed deeper and deeper into his hole of despair. Mary tends to find comfort in directing attention on other people’s issues. She tells Edmund not to drink because of his condition, but when the bottle is out she encourages it. She blames all of her problems on her family, but mostly on James’ cheap behavior.

Attitude: Finds little drive in life, ever since falling into drugs and a depression that forced her to recognize every little mistake she ever made. She regrets everything she’s done with her life, from marrying the husband she claims to love, to becoming a mother. Tries to drift away from her family and find companionship with the ignorant help.

Goals/Dreams/Values: As a young girl Mary had two dreams, one was to become a nun, the other to become a professional concert pianist. Both dreams ended when she married James Tyrone. James, on the other hand, feels he rescued her from a hopeless future. He recognizes her as having been too pretty and crazy to ever be a nun and not the least talented at playing the piano. Maybe if they tried communication…..

Edmund Tyrone

Description: Edmund is 23 years old, tall, thin, wiry and resembling both his parents, but mostly his mother (especially in his nervousness). Plainly in bad health, he has feverish eyes and sunken cheeks, and weighs much less than he should. His behavior is almost lost. He seems to have given up on attempting good health, disobeying doctors who insist on him cutting back on alcohol. He loses himself in the drink, much like his father and brother, in order to avoid the truth of his mother’s morphine addiction. He is the most defensive, of his mother, of his father, of his brother and of anyone but himself.

Relationships: Son of James and Mary, brother to Jamie. He defends mother’s behavior or tries to change the subject whenever the subject of Mary’s behavior arises and defends Tyrone’s drinking and penny-pinching. When Jamie comes home drunk and angry at the world, cursing all things holy and whatnot, Edmund is there to defend everyone Jamie verbally attacks. Edmund always seems to be on the defensive.

Attitude: Defensive and yet in denial. Edmund argues not to blame anyone, and almost seems to carry the full burden of blame himself. Nobody ever says that Edmund is the one to blame, but in being so defensive of everyone else, one might wonder if he carries all the pain on his shoulders (possibly why his illness grows to such an extent). He seems to deny everything wrong with the family, even his own illness. He drinks freely to relieve his pain, despite that his pain is heightened by the drink.

Goals/Dreams/Values: Edmund wishes for nothing less than to have been born a creature of the sea, rather than a human. A sea gull or a fish…anything is better than being a human, a creature that suffers in so many ways. Edmund doesn’t seem to be so distracted by his illness as he is by his mother’s illness or his father’s illness or his brother’s illness, but especially by his father’s cheapness. At least that was the case, until he found another excuse to defend his father’s cheapskate behavior.

Jamie Tyrone

Description: Jamie is 33, broad-shouldered and deep-chested like his father but with obvious signs of premature disintegration. His smile has a certain sneer to it and his personality is full of good-humored Irish charm (attractive to women and popular among men). A heavy drinker and buyer of prostitution, Jamie does everything to avoid being home…. where the hurt is.

Relationships: Son of Mary and James Tyrone, brother of Edmund. Jamie is very outgoing about his opposition toward his mother’s addiction, even to her face. This is probably mostly the alcohol’s fault. He often attempts to change Edmund’s defensive opinion of everyone, especially their parents. When Edmund insisted that Tyrone’s cheapness was for good reason, Jamie tried to convince him that Tyrone only said all that tear-jerking stuff to convince Edmund not to need to spend any more money on an institution. The same line he uses on the doctors.

Attitude: A runner, Jamie does everything in his power to run from the problems. He stays away from the house as much as possible, often getting drunk and hiring whores. He does everything he can for a false sense of security that a functional mother could really provide, going as far as to sleep with the largest, most mother-like prostitute available to his money, Fat Violet. A true victim of depression.

Goals/Dreams/Values: Jamie obviously dreams of having had a real mother and a functional family. I can only guess that Jamie was hit much harder by Mary’s addiction because he was older than Edmund when the first signs surfaced. Edmund has ever since been in a state of denial while Jamie lets the whole thing hit him full force, until it pushes him so far into his own pit of despair that he’ll eventually dig his own grave.


Description: A buxom Irish peasant girl in her early twenties. Black hair, blue eyes and an ignorant, amiable, even clumsy attitude toward everything. She has a very odd sense of dense, well-meaning stupidity and even laziness when possible.

Relationship: Household servant and kitchen worker for the Tyrones. Cathleen has found herself in a situation of false friendship with Mary, who only wants to use her to recover more morphine from the pharmacist, meanwhile providing herself with a false sense of companionship.

Attitude: Completely and utterly clueless. Cathleen seems to have no sense of happening, unless what is happening directly and immediately affects her. Selfish and stupid, Cathleen is easily used by Mary. She doesn’t seem to mind, notice or care either!

Goals/Dreams/Values: Not a completely significant character, but important to the story, Cathleen’s dreams are not entirely touched down upon. Being of a peasant family, she seems to have been raised not to expect more of herself than completely “realistic”. All she rambles on about is touchy-feely chauffeurs and a cook who lie about her relations. It seems very appropriate that Mary falsely attaches herself to a girl with no future, with no hope of a future and no dream of a future. Cathleen is the perfect victim, waiting to be harmlessly used.


Play: “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” by O’Neil


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