Long Day's Journey Into Night
Long Day's Journey Into Night Drugs and Alcohol Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
EDMUND Dully. Did I hear you say, let's all have a drink? TYRONE Frowns at him. Jamie is welcome after his hard morning's work, but I won't invite you. Doctor Hardy – EDMUND To hell with Doctor Hardy! One isn't going to kill me. I feel – all in, Papa. TYRONE With a worried look at him – putting on a fake heartiness. Come along, then. It's before a meal and I've always found that good whiskey, taken in moderation as an appetizer, is the best of tonics.
This is a fascinating example of the phenomenon we see in quote two above. Just as Cathleen suggests a small drink immediately after describing her uncle's fatal alcoholism, here James lets his son drink despite specific warnings from a doctor that it would be unhealthy for him to do so. There are at least two possibilities here: 1) James legitimately believes that alcohol is healthy and that Doc Hardy is wrong, or 2) James just doesn't want to deprive his son of something that makes him happy, and so weighs Edmund's happiness over the possible health risks. The first, in particular, gives an interesting angle on James – does he actually believe that Doctor Hardy is a poor doctor, implicitly admitting that his money-hoarding has led the family to consult a sub-par health professional?
MARY Why is that glass there? Did you take a drink? Oh, how can you be such a fool? Don't you know it's the worst thing? She turns on Tyrone. You're to blame, James. How could you let him? Do you want to kill him? Don't you remember my father? He wouldn't stop after he was stricken. He said doctors were fools! He thought, like you, that whiskey is a good tonic! A look of terror comes into her eyes and she stammers. But, of course, there's no comparison at all. I don't know why I – Forgive me for scolding you, James. One small drink won't hurt Edmund. It might be good for him, if it gives him an appetite. (2.1.116)
Here Mary follows Cathleen and James's leads. It's as if the whole family believes that if they can drink alcohol, then they can be normal, so long as they respect moderation. That is, only an unhealthy family could possibly ban alcohol (what they call "a good man's failing"). To admit that alcohol could be dangerous would be to admit that Edmund isn't a healthy, vital young man. Just like Cathleen, Mary recognizes intellectually (and with reference to a dead relative) that alcohol can be dangerous, but she quickly turns around to make sure neither she nor Edmund thinks that Edmund's in danger of dying.
EDMUND Well, what's wrong with being drunk? It's what we're after, isn't it? Let's not kid each other, Papa. Not tonight. We know what we're trying to forget. Hurriedly. But let's not talk about it. It's no use now. TYRONE Dully. No. All we can do is try to be resigned – again. EDMUND Or be so drunk you can forget. (4.1.46-48)
Immediately after this passage, Edmund cites a long prose poem by Baudelaire about being drunk all the time if you don't want to be "martyred slaves of Time." And Edmund agrees: the best way to deal with Mary's problem is to be too drunk to remember it. But have you noticed they can't do it? No matter how much the Tyrone boys drink, they can't forget Mary's addiction.