New England Irish
In a token moment of Irish brogue, Phil Hogan vividly professes “Be God, look at you standing there with the club! If you ain’t the damnedest daughter in Connecticut, who is (O’Neill 297)? ” Without question, no statement could more clearly define the chaotic relationship between Phil and Josie Hogan in Eugene O’Neill’s A Moon for the Misbegotten than this. The analysis of this parent-child relationship proves to be quite a paradox in nature, a love/hate bond of sorts between a father and his daughter.
These two characters come to express their emotions in such crude terms that one would wonder about the functionality of their relationship, yet Phil and Josie seem strangely comfortable with this perpetual saga of slander and subtle jabs. However, the harsh reality of their interaction will in fact reveal the deeper meaning of Eugene O’Neill’s chaotic life through dramatic means. The character of Josie Hogan carries a true aura of dominance wherever she goes. A strapping woman of unusual size and strength, Josie is everything her brothers–Mike, Thomas, and John–never were.
Without question, the script of A Moon for the Misbegotten is full of awkward references to the blatantly obvious lack of Josie’s femininity. Statements from her own father such as “To hell with your temper, you overgrown cow! ” leave the impression that Josie is unusual in many ways, not always positive (296). Yet despite the raucous language used, her father (Phil) loves her in ways he could never have loved his virtuous sons. For instance, Phil, quarreling with Josie over his son’s theft of some money, states “To tell the truth, I never liked him.
And I never liked Thomas and John, either (297). ” O’Neill creates this all-too-believable dysfunctional clan and maintains their quandary throughout the script. While multiple dysfunctions develop in the play, Josie and her father remain the centerpiece of character driven interactions in A Moon for the Misbegotten. In order to investigate the motives behind the “colorful” language and spats between Phil Hogan and his daughter, it is necessary to take a peek into the life of the author, Eugene Gladstone O’Neill.
The reckoning behind the conversations and complex relationship between Josie and Phil Hogan is a direct result of O’Neill’s own life. For example, in Hogan’s tirade on Josie to find his son Mike, he declares “Where is he? Is he hiding in the basement? I’ll wipe the floors with him, the lazy bastard! (Turning his anger against her. ) Haven’t you a tongue in your head, you great slut you? ” This outburst of violent and profane emotion was not unlike the reactions of O’Neill himself.
During the composition of A Moon for the Misbegotten–which was O’Neill’s tribute to pay his deceased brother Jamie his due–O’Neill once listened to a speech by Hitler on the radio with his wife Carlotta. Without warning, O’Neill sprang up exclaiming “Goddamn whore! ” and bolted from the room (Goldman 42). The further instability of Eugene O’Neill is documented when his wife commented on the matter. Carlotta stated “He told me he hadn’t known what he was saying, and explained that he had been reliving his days with Jamie–the days they spent in whorehouses together (Goldman 42).
” Just as many troubled souls will find solace in their own outlets, O’Neill found his in the characters he created, which is easily traced to the development of the irate Phil Hogan in A Moon for the Misbegotten. The three central characters of A Moon for the Misbegotten–Phil and Josie Hogan and Jim Tyrone, Jr. –are unmistakably “New England Irish, with just enough Catholicism still clinging to them to provide expressive profanity,” and O’Neill made no mistake in crafting the characters in this fashion (Bloom 31).
The implementation of such a dysfunctional cast of characters affects the play in a way that “normal” identities couldn’t. Specifically speaking, Josie and Phil bring a turbulent, yet predictable twist to the plot. While the insults and profanity flow freely from their loose Irish lips, it’s evident that they both love each other dearly. Josie proves this theory, despite the fact that she openly slanders her father in front of her brother in the beginning of Act I. Almost uncharacteristic of Josie’s strapping size, the exchange goes as follows:
Josie (quietly): Then keep your tongue off him. He’s my father too, and I like him, if you don’t. Mike (out of reach-sullenly): You’re two of a kind, and a bad kind. Josie (good naturedly): I’m proud of it. Without question the remark by Mike Hogan is blunt and quite rude, and Josie still defends her father despite the continual arguments and conflicts between them. She even goes so far as to say she is proud of their similarities, though all they can see is their differences when face to face.