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Long Day's Journey Into Night

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.

Quote #7

I hope, sometime, without meaning it, I will take an overdose. I never could do it deliberately. The Blessed Virgin would never forgive me, then.

This passage, coming at the end of Act III, gives us a chilling bit of (false!) foreshadowing. It's hard to read this and not expect Mary to end up dead in Act IV. At the same time, it's a reminder of her failed suicide attempt when she tried to jump off the dock. At the most basic level, though, the passage shows us Mary's strange relationship with fate. She clearly wants to die, but refuses to go after her goal willingly. The only acceptable way for her to achieve the happiness she sees in death would be if fate so willed it. She seems to regard the amount of morphine she takes as out of her control.

Quote #8

More of your morbidness! There's nothing wrong with life. It's we who –
He quotes.
"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves that we are underlings." (4.1.145)

Hint: if you ever see this quote (from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar) in a work of literature, you can be sure that fate versus free will is a key theme. This is basically the mother of all fate vs. free will quotes in all of literature. Cassius, in Shakespeare's play, urges Brutus to take responsibility and quit thinking that fate dictates all actions. In other words, when something goes wrong, it's our fault, and the only way for us to fix it is through positive action. James advocates this philosophy, and it stands in contrast with that often supported by Jamie and Mary, who both argue what has happened has shaped what will happen, and we have no control over the process.

Quote #9

Disgustedly amused.
You're the limit! At the Last Judgment, you'll be around telling everyone it's in the bag.
And I'll be right. Slip a piece of change to the Judge and be saved, but if you're broke you can go to hell!
He grins at this blasphemy and Edmund has to laugh. (4.1.201-202)

Jamie may be joking, but this jest betrays a real philosophical concern of this play that maybe money greases the wheels of fate. In other words, all this talk about fate may really be a more abstract way of saying that a person's place in society determines how happy he can be. Jamie doesn't seem to be a believer in the whole "money can't buy you happiness" idea.

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