Awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1957, the autobiographical play, Long Day's Journey into Night, is regarded as Eugene O'Neill's finest pieces of work. The play focuses on the Tyrone's, a family that O'Neill describes as very happy once upon a time, filled with love and hope for the future, but have since spiraled into a highly dysfunctional family. Mahatma Gandhi, infamously known for inspiring movements for civil rights and freedom world wide, once proclaimed, "Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny," and this could not be truer for the Tyrone family. The members of the Tyrone family are consumed with past memories, negative thoughts, and constant reminders of events that have become their daily habits. The family is filled with misery and bitterness, lacking accountability, and almost always deflecting the blame elsewhere. Mary Tyrone tries to deny that any problems exist, but ironically, the wife, mother, and addict is the root of the family problems. If you dig deep enough, you'll find dirt- the dirt being Mary Tyrone. .
The Tyrone's issues have grown larger and much deeper over time, much like the soul of the speaker in Langston Hughes's poem, The Negro Speaks of Rivers, "My soul has grown deep like the rivers." Instead of uniting as a family in order to productively face their problems and treat the illnesses that have consumed them, they revert to covering the pain up with a Band-Aid. In Mary's case that Band-Aid is known as Morphine. Constantly reminded of the troubles of her recent past combined with family problems that surround, Mary selfishly chooses to detach herself from the current reality with the aid of morphine. As the wife of James Tyrone and the mother of Jamie and Edmund Tyrone, this is the most devastating, self-centered decision she could make for her family.