Long Day’s Journey Into Night is set as a play performed in a summer home by the family known as Tyrone Family on the month of August of 1912. Right after breakfast in the morning the act starts, when Mary comes back home after being done with her treatment for a severe addiction to morphine in a sanatorium. The story focuses on Mary initially, being one of the key characters in the play and how she got addicted to morphine usage, and her rehabilitation. The story then shifts to Edmund, who is found to have Tuberculosis after symptoms like him coughing excessively and eventually Jamie and Tyrone suspecting what later on comes true, that Edmund has in fact fallen victim to Tuberculosis. As the story gradually unfolds, we find out that even after rehabilitation, Mary could not overcome her morphine addiction problems, to which her family members were immensely disappointed. In the first act, the readers see Edmund traveling across the country as he stumbles across with a terrible cough. As the two men Jamie along with Edmund come to their destination, Tyrone and James simply cannot stop themselves from a fight. As the two try to break off the fight between James and Tyrone which started from a tad bit of teasing each other eventually building up to an argument, Edmund tries to calm down the situation by telling a story which is conceived as humorous but is not appreciated by Tyrone who does not like how Edmund interpreted the situation. In the midst of calling Edmund multiple names and criticizing him, Edmund becomes sick of all of it and goes upstairs as he needs to cough. Although Mary seems to be worried about Edmund she does not want to have any conversations about it. As Mary goes to the kitchen to look after things, Tyrone and Jamie start talking frankly about Edmund again and assume that he might have a chance of consumption. The fight takes a bitter turn as the two men exchange verbal bits which are seen throughout the following acts. The two men keep on accusing each other as Tyrone says that Jamie is without any direction and Jamie does the same by calling Tyrone a miser human being. Mary’s addiction towards morphine is blamed on her father and his shoddy structure for medical care. The two men stop talking instantly as Mary returns from the kitchen and go out to the lawn for some work of their own. Edmund comes back from upstairs and starts to have a conversation with Mary. Both of them seem to be concerned about each other as Mary is hugely worried about Edmund’s excessive coughing and Edmund is worried about Mary’s morphine addiction and tries to have a clear talk with her about her addiction, feeling that she should confront her past. Mary, feeling uncomfortable talking about her problems, shifts her focus to Tyrone’s miserly behavior for which she could never have a real home. After that Edmund goes out into the lawn where the two men were still working and lies in the shed, as Mary stands there alone. With that comes the conclusion to Act One.
Act Two, Scene One starts off a little before lunchtime. The whole scene is dedicated to the revelation of Mary falling back into her old vices. The scene starts off with Edmund conversating with a hired girl named Cathleen, as Jamie walks in asking about Mary who has been inside her room since morning. As Jamie suspects that Mary might have fallen back into her old addiction, Edmund denies the whole façade until Mary comes down finally, behaving very weirdly in comparison to her usual self. Finally, Tyrone comes into the room and is also a spectator as to what Mary has become. Thus, Edmund himself can deny no longer the fact that Mary has fallen into her old morphine addiction.
Scene Two of Act Two starts off with Mary who is criticizing Tyrone regarding his real estate and his bad investments in it, as they get a call from Dr. Hardy, with Tyrone picking up the phone. From the manner in which Dr. Hardy is talking, all of them know that it is certainly not good news. After the phone call, Mary goes to her room upstairs to shoot up some more morphine as Edmund follows her trail to try and have a conversation with her, in the hopes of talking and making her understand. The remaining two confirm that Edmund has gone upstairs and are under the impression that he is also in there for consumption. Jamie is a little skeptical that Tyrone, being the miser person, has the possibility to send Edmund to a relatively cheap sanatorium. Jamie waits for Edmund to accompany him to the town. Mary comes downstairs and the Tyrones have a talk. As the scene progresses, the history of the Tyrones unravels itself, as Edmund is seen to be in part accountable for the death of their older son Eugene. As Edmund descends downstairs, he asks his mother to restrain herself from her addiction but Mary shoots his words outside the window pretending to have zero knowledge of what he is talking about. As Edmund leaves, he is followed by Tyrone, as Mary is by herself again. Initially, she breathes a sigh of relief but is instantly haunted by an agonizing sense of loneliness.
Act Three starts off with Mary and Cathleen as Mary is seen being accompanied by Cathleen, being waited on repeatedly by the latter. Mary, in her act of treating Cathleen with whiskey, reminisces about her childhood and her dreams of becoming a fully-fledged nun or even a concert pianist. On the other side, Cathleen tries hard to follow her but is too drunk to be sharp enough to read through her words. In the meantime, Tyrone and Edmund enter the scene, as Mary greets them wholeheartedly. It was not before long that the two men find out that she is lost and is inside the dope, as Mary goes on to inform Edmund that Jamie is trying to make him look like a failure just like himself. Mary then goes on to tell Tyrone about the first time they met and creates a weirdly tender moment of reminiscence between themselves, forgetting in between where she might have kept her wedding dress. As Tyrone goes to fetch another bottle of whiskey, Edmund and Mary have a deep conversation about her morphine usage but talking directly about Mary’s past dealings kind of rub her in the wrong way, thus they halt their conversation. As Edmund departs, Tyrone comes back and asks Mary if she is interested to have dinner with him, but Mary chooses to go upstairs probably to inject herself with some more morphine, yet again. With that Scene Two of Act Three concludes.
The final act starts, at midnight of the same night. As Edmund returns back to his home, he finds his father trying his hand at solitaire. The two men fall into the usual pattern of fighting while drinking themselves away, but also have the soft corner in their hearts for each other to have tender and intimate conversations going in deep, tapping into each other’s hearts. Tyrone bleeds out his bitterness to Edmund as he talks to Edmund about the decisions that he made of staying in his job of acting for nothing else but the money he was getting paid, which, ultimately ruined his career. Tyrone goes on saying how he wasted his talent and potential by being stuck in the same role years after years. Listening to his father, going back in his mind and sharing his failures with him, Edmund feels deep down within himself that he already knows his father better than he ever has. Edmund opens up to his father as well as he tells him about his days while he was sailing and indirectly addresses the fact that he hopes to be an incredible writer someday. As the two men talk, Jamie arrives home being drunk, and Tyrone leaves immediately so that there arise no more situations which lead to fighting. As Tyrone departs, Edmund and Jamie sit down to have a talk of their own and Jamie, being drunk, confesses to the fact that he wants Edmund to fail although he loves Edmund. He even goes to lengths to say that he will make sure Edmund fails. Immediately following this, he passes out, being dead drunk. Jamie wakes up as soon as Tyrone returns and they start their fighting again.
As they continue, Mary comes downstairs. She was holding onto her wedding dress, which she probably found in her attic as she suspected it was there for a long, long time. She was intoxicated so severely, that she was consumed in her own past, her own thoughts, unable to recover herself from her own mind. And, in the process, she could not even recognize any of them, anymore.