On the Perfect Combination of Realism and Expressionism in Long Day’s Journey into Night
|School||Sichuan International Studies University|
|Course||English Language and Literature|
|Keywords||Eugene O’Neill Long Day’s Journey into Night the Tyrones Realism Expressionism the perfect combination|
Since its first performance, Long Day’s Journey into Night has excited a lot of critical responses. However, few of these critics comprehensively analyze how O’Neill combines artistically the objectivity of realism with the subjectivity of expressionism. Thus, this thesis endeavors to focus upon three aspects such as structure, characterization, and stage design to prove how realism and expressionism are effectively interwoven in this play.O’Neill organically combines realism and expressionism in structure. For one thing, the structure demonstrates realistic features. The story develops around a central event along a basic plotline. Elements such as exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and ending that normally constitute a complete plotline are evident in this play. In addition,“reversal”and“recognition”, traditionally considered as the obvious realistic features by Aristotle, can be found in the play. For another, O’Neill distinguishes himself in the theatrical innovation by adding expressionistic elements in this play. The lyrical characteristics of the dialogues and Mary’s thought indicate that besides the external plot, there exists the internal plot which mainly deals with the memories of the past.O’Neill effectively combines realism and expressionism in characterization. In this play, he adopts realistic methods to present the life and the characters in an accurate and vivid way. He depicts realistically the downfall of an ordinary family in the face of a seeming mysterious determinism caused by the materialistic modern world in which money, possessions and physical comforts are considered more important than spiritual values. In the mean time, by using highly expressionistic devices such as masks, interior monologues and repetitions, O’Neill creates a unique subjective universe. Through those expressionistic techniques, O’Neill successfully externalizes the inner psyches of the characters.O’Neill perfectly combines realism and expressionism in stage design. The setting recreates the living room of the O’Neills’New London summer house, and the stage is filled with various realistic properties. As a result specific details and a sense of familiarity on the part of the audience help to create a realistic atmosphere. In the meanwhile, O’Neill skillfully uses some expressionistic devices such as complex lighting, sound effects and symbolic stage properties to depict the inner psyches of the Tyrones and the tragic truth of the family.In sum, Long Day’s Journey into Night distinguishes itself in American theatre by its perfect combination of realism and expressionism. While adopting realistic methods to present the life and the characters in an accurate and vivid way, O’Neill also makes full use of expressionistic techniques to depict the inner psyches of the Tyrones and the tragic truth of the family. It is through combining artistically the objectivity of realism with the subjectivity of expressionism that O’Neill explores the search for self, love and conflicts between family members in a materialistic world in which money, possessions and physical comforts are considered more important than spiritual values.