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After reading the summary below please view the next video: Reading of Long Day’s Journey into Night, Act III.
Inscription From Eugene O’Neill
“For Carlotta, on our 12th wedding anniversary dearest: I give you the original script of this play of old sorrow, written in tears and blood. A sadly inappropriate gift, it would seem, for a day of celebrating happiness. But you will understand. I mean it as a tribute to your love and tenderness which gave me the faith in love that enabled me to face my dead at last and write this play—write it with deep pity and understanding and forgiveness for all four haunted Tyrones.”
Summary of Long Day’s Journey into Night leading up to Act III:
The play takes place over the span of one day in August 1912 at the Tyrone family’s summer cottage in New London, Connecticut. During that day, Mary Tyrone relapses and starts using morphine again. The Tyrone men—James, Jamey, and Edmund—all suspect Mary is using, but none of them wants to believe it. Instead they begin drinking and fighting well before lunchtime.
Today is also the day when Edmund Tyrone, the younger of the two sons, is scheduled to see a specialist to determine whether he has tuberculosis and has to go to a sanatorium. The family is in denial about this as well, especially Mary.
In the hours leading up to Act III, the Tyrone men see the doctor, who confirms Edmund has tuberculosis and, rather than returning home to tell Mary the news, the usually parsimonious James Tyrone takes his sons out drinking.
All this time, Mary has been left alone at the house with her serving girl, Cathleen, whom she convinces to take her downtown to the pharmacy to have her prescription filled. As soon as they get back, Mary rushes upstairs to take more of her “special medicine,” and as Act III begins she is starting to feel the effects of the drug, only to be surprised when James and Edmund Tyrone return to face her and tell her the news of Edmund’s diagnosis.