Abstract

The characters in O'Neill's late plays, especially in Long Day's Journey Into Night, fail to forgive each other for a variety of reasons, which can be elucidated by examining failures at forgiveness in the works of Samuel Beckett and Arthur Miller. The framework for the discussion of forgiveness here, including the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation, is provided by insights into ethics and philosophy of mind from Bernhard Schlink, William James, Stanley Cavell, Daniel Kahneman, and Jonathan Haidt. Ultimately, O'Neill's characters' failure to forgive is attributed to a kind of narcissism, and narcissism is explored as an underlying theme in the plays O'Neill wrote at Tao House in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

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