The director’s notes in Long Day’s Journey into Night bring a strong bond of understanding between the reader and the play. Eugene O’ Neil created the book with such elaboration that no misinterpretations were to occur. The book is based on a dark family that has a bitter love relationship. The director’s notes help the reader to perceive that the relationship is filled with no ordinary love, but bitter love. The purpose of the note is to make the reader part of the play, to make sure that the authors thoughts are keenly delivered with no misinterpretation.
Although Shakespeare’s Othello is considered as one of the best plays in the world, the play Long Day’s Journey into Night is known for its better quality of content. The notes are the essence of the play because they provide a clear view of the setting and theme, summarizes the characters physical and psychological description with perfection, and provide the reader a clear picture of the character’s actions, feelings and mood. The director’s notes enhance the quality of the play. The director’s notes help the reader or viewer imagine a clear view of the setting and the theme of the play.
They are not merely stage directions, as in Shakespeare’s Othello – in Long Day’s Journey into Night, they complement the author’s intentions the reader is able to learn the meaning of the play, and also the reader is assisted in learning about the themes, setting, motivation, and the character’s personalities. The stage directions also help clarify the various conflicts in the play. The stage directions lead the reader or viewer; since the director uses the stage directions to stage the play in a fashion that O’Neil would approve.
The reader needs some detail in order to understand the play – O’Neil uses director’s notes to assist the reader or viewer. He wants to control the message received by his readers or viewers. Actors portrayed in Long Day’s Journey into Night are exactly as O’Neil intended. It is as if O’Neil is directing each version a view that the readers will ever see. O’Neil controls the setting of Long Day’s Journey into Night. For example, the author tells the reader or viewer what books James Tyrone has on his shelves, what the floor colours are, and the general size and shape of the stage.
The set almost has a set of blue prints. For example, in Act One, the room is described as; “Farther back is a large, glassed-in bookcase with sets of Dumas, Victor Hugo, Charles Lever… and several histories of Ireland. The astonishing thing about these sets is that all the volumes have the look of having been read and reread. The hardwood floor is nearly covered by a rug… Around the table… ” (O’Neil, pg. 11) Act Four also clearly shows the fog becoming denser. Mary is in a fog due to her drug usage.
The description shows the reader Mary’s state of mind; Outside the windows the wall of fog appears denser than ever. As the curtain rises, the foghorn is heard, followed by the ships’ bells from the harbor. ” (O’Neil, pg. 14) In Othello, there are no detailed sets provided, and the director’s notes are very short. The director must re-invent Shakespeare’s set, whereas O’Neil tells the director everything. Shakespeare merely states “A Street in Venice Night. ” (Shakespeare, Act I, scene i) The action and the dialogue must build the setting. The director’s notes provide the reader a clear image of the character’s actions, feelings and mood to augment meaning and form.
O’Neil carefully describes characters to assist the director in casting the actors. Shakespeare’s Othello has the statement; “Enter Roderigo and Iago” (Shakespeare, Act I, scene i). The viewer or reader must learn about these characters from the dialogue; However, Mary, in Long Day’s Journey into Night, is however carefully described by O’Neil; “Mary is fifty-four, about medium height. She still has young, graceful figure, a trifle plump, but showing little evidence of middle-aged waist and hips, although she is not tightly corseted. Her… ” (O’Neil, pg. 12)
Cathleen, a house maid, is introduced in Act Two, scene one as; “… She is a buxom Irish peasant, in her early twenties, with a red-cheeked comely face, black hair and blue eyes – amiable, ignorant, clumsy, and possessed by a dense, well-meaning stupidity. She puts… ” (O’Neil, pg. 53) O’Neil wants the girl cast as a dull, clumsy, and stupid looking servant. O’Neil wants the reader or viewer to clearly understand the character’s motivations. For example, Edmund argues with his father about turning out the light. His father is upset about the cost and expresses his thoughts in words as; Ablaze with electricity! One bulb! Hell, everyone keeps a light on in front hall until they go to bed. ” (O’Neil, pg. 128)
This scene only makes sense when one realizes that Tyrone is drunk. O’ Neil ensures that the reader or viewer know that it is only because he is drunk that Edmund will argue. Physical and psychological descriptions of the characters engages the readers mind with the novel; helping the reader to imagine a clear picture of the characters. Mary is portrayed in different ways in Long Day’s Journey into Night. For example, in Act Three, description of her is written as; “… he settles back in relaxed dreaminess, staring fixedly at nothing.
Her arms rest limply along the arms of the chair, her hands with long, warped, swollen-knuckled, sensitive fingers drooping in complete calm. It is… ” (O’Neil, pg. 109) She is happy, but then she changes; “… She suddenly loses all the girlish quality and is an aging, cynically sad, embittered woman. ” (O’Neil, pg. 109). The reason for this change is she hears the foghorn and bells, all signs of the outside world which cause her so much pain. The play finishes with Mary explaining the circumstances which led to her marrying James Tyrone.
She had wanted to become a nun, but was told to see it she was meant to be a nun by; “… going home after I graduated, and living as other girls lived, going out to parties and dances and enjoying myself; and then… ” (O’Neil, pg. 175) She met Tyrone that year. The final stage directions clearly show the effect it (the marriage) had on her life; “She stares before her in a sad dream. Tyrone stirs in his chair. Edmund and Jamie remain motionless. ” (O’Neil, pg. 179) In conclusion, O’Neil’s director’s notes demonstrated the tragic marriage and its effects on all four of the characters with elaboration.
The notes helped the readers understand the play much more efficiently: summarizing the physical and psychological description of the characters, providing a clear view of the setting and theme, and providing the reader a clear picture of the character’s actions, feelings and mood to augment meaning and form. The author used detailed stage directions, also called as director’s notes, to ensure that the viewers and readers all experienced the same setting and themes, and that characters revealed their true natures.