Long Day's Journey Into Night
by Eugene O'Neill
Long Day's Journey Into Night Fate and Free Will Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Scene.Line). Every time a character talks counts as one line, even if what they say turns into a long monologue.
James! I tried so hard! I tried so hard! Please believe--! (2.1.123)
In one of the most upsetting moments in the play, Mary finally cracks under James's critical gaze, and confesses to her return to morphine. More to the point, though, we see here the rationale for her constant resort to fate as an explanation for all the ills in her life. We want to believe her when she says she has tried so hard not to get back on morphine, but no matter how hard she tries, she can't kick it.
There ought to be a law to keep men like him from practicing. He hasn't the slightest idea – When you're in agony and half insane, he sits and holds your hand and delivers sermons on will power! […] He deliberately humiliates you! He makes you beg and plead! He treats you like a criminal! He understands nothing! And yet it was exactly the same type of cheap quack who first gave you the medicine – and you never knew what it was until too late!
I hate doctors! They'll do anything – anything to keep you coming to them. They'll sell their souls! What's worse, they'll sell yours, and you never know it till one day you find yourself in hell!
Where previously the agent behind Mary's fatalism was some sort of abstract concept like "the effects life has on you" and a more general appeal to the way people work, here she makes her fatalist argument much more concretely. Here, doctors (specifically Doctor Hardy) are the ones responsible for people's sealed fates. Hardy is an agent of destiny, getting Mary hooked on morphine leaving her without any power to resist.
If your mother had prayed, too – She hasn't denied her faith, but she's forgotten it, until now there's no strength of the spirit left in her to fight against the curse.
Then dully resigned.
But what's the good of talk? We've lived with this before and now we must again. There's no help for it.
Only I wish she hadn't led me to hope this time. By God, I never will again!
A fun bit of hypocrisy from James here. He argues that Mary ought to have had more faith in God so that she would have been able to pull through. Of course, what James fails to acknowledge is that he's had a hand in shaking that faith in God by taking her away from the convent. Like Mary, James consistently underestimates the role of his own activities in bringing about the disasters facing his family.