The Importance of Stage Direction

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 11th grade February 2008

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Imagine paying $95 dollars to see a play and when the curtain rises, all you see is four people standing in a line. Then they start to recite lines without any emotion. Unless you like hearing people talk in monotone, this play would be a complete waste of $95. Stage direction makes a play. It is what makes a play interesting. In the play, Long Day’s Journey Into Night by Eugene O’Neil, stage direction is essential to the lay. The one stage direction that can explain the whole play appears in act two, scene one. It states, “He measures two drinks of water and pours them in the whiskey bottle and shakes it up”(56).

        This stage direction contains evidence of both deception and drinking. These two factors are major themes of the play. Here Jamie tries to deceive his parents into thinking that no one took a drink when in fact both Edmond and Jamie had one.

This is why Jamie measures tow drinks worth of water and mixes it with the whiskey. Both Edmond and Mary try and deceive their family into believing that their sicknesses are non-existent or barely there. Drinking is a main factor in the play. During the bulk of the play, at least one of the characters has a drink is his/her hand or is under the influence of alcohol. This is the reason for Jamie’s problems and is the reason why he has not succeeded in life.

        Edmond has a severe case of tuberculosis. His illness is so severe that he might have to be put in a sanatorium. Even though he knows this, he doesn’t want his family to worry about him so he tells them, “That’s foolishness. You know it’s only a bad cold”(49). He feels that his family is going through enough with his mother and her morphine addiction, and that there is no reason to worry about him. This is why he tries to convince his family that his coughing tantrums are caused by a bad cold and nothing worse.

        Mary has been going to rehab because of her addiction to morphine. She tries to convince her family that she is no longer using the drug. She tries to persuade them that their suspicions are false by saying things like, “But I’m quite all right, dear.”(50), and, “I don’t know”(65). She feels the same way about Edmonds sickness as Edmond feels about her addiction, that their own personal problem doesn’t matter and that the other one’s problem should be the family’s main focus.

        Jamie is the one in the family that has not succeeded. Edmond had a stable job with a newspaper, Tyrone was a successful actor, and Mary did her job as a good housewife. Jamie’s own mother even states, “Where’s Jamie? But, of course, he’ll never come home so long as he has the price of a drink left”(111). He takes his parents money and then spends it all on whores and liquor, and he won’t go home until he has no more money to spend. The alcohol is to blame for Jamie’s failure.

        The stage direction in play is what makes it interesting. In the case on Long Day’s Journey Into Night the stage direction, “He [Jamie] measures two drinks of water and pours them in the whiskey bottle and shakes it up.”(56), can explain the whole play. This quote contains deception and drinking which are both main themes in the play. The deception that Edmond and Mary show towards their family, and the fact that Jamie’s failure is due to alcohol.