Eugene O'Neill


Eugene Gladstone O?Neill?s life is reflected throughout his plays in order to let out his true feelings. Eugene O?Neill was born in October on the 16, 1888. He was born in New York City, New York, in a hotel on forty-third and Broadway. For the first seven years of his life, he traveled with his parents. James O?Neill, his father, was among the top actors of his time and his mother, Ellen Quinlan, did not work, she only followed James from stage to stage. They traveled with the famous melodrama, The Count of Monte Cristo, which his father acted in. Right from the start, O?Neill was growing up with plays all around him (143). Eugene?s early education came from different Catholic schools. From 1895-1900, he attended St. Aloysius Academy for boys in Riverdale, New York, and from 1900-1902 he went to De La Salle Institute in New York. After the De La Salle Institute, he attended a preparatory school, Betts Academy in Stanford, Connecticut. From 1906-1907, he attended Princeton. After a year, he was kicked out for breaking a window in a stationmaster?s house. Throughout these years of education his home life, or life on the road, wasn?t very good. According to George H. Jensen in the Dictionary of Literary Biography , Eugene?s home life was crucial to the plays that he wrote. Filled with guilt, betrayal, and accusations, it is, sometimes hard to see and sometimes Castellari 2 very easy for us to see. Ellen Quinlan O?Neill felt betrayal when three months after her marriage, James was accused by Nettie Walsh of being her husband and the father of her child. Jamie, Ellen?s firstborn, passed the measles to Edmund, her second born, who died shortly afterward. Ellen became a drug addict after a doctor gave her morphine while getting better after Eugene?s birth. Later, she blamed her addiction on James, her husband. She said that he was too miserly to pay for a good doctor (141-142). This is almost the exact plot of the play Long Day?s Journey Into Night. Most of his entire home life was developed into his plays. His feeling about his mother being a drug addict were presented in the play Long Day?s Journey Into Night (156). "His early years were profoundly affected by the pressures of his mother?s recurring mental illness and drug addiction and by his tempestuous relationship with his father, a discordant family situation that he later drew upon when writing Long Day?s Journey into Night" (Poupard 156). In the play, the mother was a morphine addict, just as his mother was in real life. In life, her addiction was because of the birth of her second son, Edmund, but she blames it on her husband. In the play, the mother actually blames her morphine addiction on her youngest son, Edmund. While Eugene was living at home, there were many other things going wrong that showed up in Long Day?s Journey into Night. One of the events was the relationship of his mother and father. Throughout his life, they fought Castellari 3 continuously about her drug addiction. Another was that Edmund was sick throughout the entire play. O?Neill?s real brother Edmund was sick since a young child and died of malaria. This entire play can almost be considered an autobiography (146-147). Eugene O?Neill?s Long Day?s Journey into Night is intensely personal and directly autobiographical. Written in an agonizing attempt to understand himself, and no doubt primarily for his own sake, it is not only about himself, but about his father and his mother as well. Because O?Neill was so essentially a dramatist, self-examination and the attempt to lighten the burden of the past inevitably took the form of a drama. (Krutch 158) Eugene Gladstone O?Neill?s play Long Day?s Journey into Night definitely portrays his feelings about his family. He shows that he dislikes the relationship of his parents, but that he can not blame it wholly on them. He also puts part of the blame on the drugs that make his mother act the way she does and on the alcohol that makes his father act the way that he does (158). Once O?Neill left home and was dismissed from Princeton because of his grades, he had to work a few odd jobs so he didn?t have to live on the streets. In 1909 he met