Critical Analysis of ‘Mourning becomes Electra’
Submitted to: M.K. Bhavnagar University, Department of English
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‘Mourning Becomes Electra’ is a play written by American play writer Eugene O’Neil, Published in 26th October 1931, in New York City. Eugene O’Neil was born on October 16, 1888, in New York City
(O'Neill). He was the first
American play writer who receive Nobel Prize for literature, for his play. He
was one of the most admired playwrights of all in their time. His dramatically
work are, Anna Christen (1922), his master piece is ‘Long Day’s Journey in to
Night. His great plays, including Beyond the Horizon (1920), Strange Interlude
(1928), Ah! Wilderness (1933), and the Iceman Cometh (1946).
The play divided in to three parts, 1. Homecoming, 2.The Hunted and 3.The Haunted. The play is begun with the description of the house. The timing of the play is set at the end of the American civil war, an adaptation of the greatest of the Aeschylus’s trio logy.
· Critical Analysis
The play begins with the description of the Mannon house, it was dark and grayish. It was spring time in the garden of the Mannon. Mannon family is the center of the play. In the play we found that, Brigadier general Ezra Mannon recently comes home from war. Christine Mannon is wife of Ezra, recently she comes from tour. Christine has lover, Adam Brant. He has similar face to Ezra. Their daughter Lavinia knows about her mother love affair with Adam. That’s why she fells jealousy. May be for this reason she hate her mother and think that her father needs her. In homecoming we found that mother and daughter rival for love of Ezra and Adam. In the play when Ezra come home from the war, Lavinia tries to latch his attention towards her, but Ezra first talk and give attention or priority to Christine, as he love her.
Christine cannot give attention to Ezra and only think about her lover. When Ezra has a heart attack, she gives him poison rather than medicine. At the end of the play we found that Orin kill his self with the gun. Orin gives one envelop to Hazel. Then Lavinia board up the window and throw out all the flowers then she enters in dark library of her father, alone and shut the door. Entire Mannon family died. Orin in envelop, he writes about the history of entire Mannon family. In which he says that Lavinia is the most interesting criminal of all. She only became pretty like their mother on Bran’s island, with the natives staring at her with desire. The name of Mannon family may be related with ‘Mammon’ and the family’s materialism. All three parts are contains four to five acts. That’s why ‘Mourning Becomes Electra’ is extraordinary lengthy for drama.
O’Neil said that “By the title Mourning Becomes Electra I should to convey that Mourning befits Electra; it becomes Electra to Mourn; it is her fat; black is becoming to her and it is the color that becomes her destiny.”
In all his play generally Eugene O’Neil’s play illustrates the struggle between the life and death. And in which human express natural sensual desires and love of other or even of the life is overcome by death. This all things are derives from the puritan religion, death in life connected with society’s values, isolation, war, and physical death. In the play we found all things are dark and grayish colored. Darkness connected with death, pervades the plays: Homecoming for instance, begins with the sunset, moves in to twilight and ends in the dark of night; the hunted takes place at night; the Hinted spans two evening and a late afternoon and dictates the inevitable coming of night, darkness and death as Lavinia retreats to rejoin the host of death Mannon. Here we found that the Mannon house itself seen by audience at the beginning of each play
The cure of this house stems from the effects of materialism, puritanism and alienation. From the perspective of material, Mannon are rich. They have all the things they have huge house, how many lives are there. Christine and other family member have material security. But they longing for emotional security. Nobody lives happily in house. When we look at Mannon house we found that there is garden, is barren without flowers. It cannot give pleasure. There is an old man with grey hair, he take care of garden. It shows Mannon house is very old. The house is lifeless, because there are many people living in house but not happily. The shape of the house is like pyramid, it is a kind of grave. Symbolically it shows that it is not house of Mannon but it is a grave of Mannon family. At the end of the play we found that enter Mannon family was died. The color of the house is gray; it symbolized the dullness of family member.
First part of the play homecoming of General Ezra Mannon from the war. But in actual sense it is not homecoming, going far from the home. He is lucky who come alive from the war but his own family member became weapon for him. Ezra’s wife kills him to giving him poison. Why his wife kills him? She kills her husband because of her love affair with Adam. When Christine needs Ezra, he is not with her. He stays away from 10 year. May be that’s why she love Adam, but they cannot marry because Ezra is alive so she kills Ezra. If Ezra was died they can marry. We found that Adam wants to take revenge of death of her sister, so he developed good relation with Mannon family. We found kind of love triangle among Lavinia, Adam and Christine. One Rison for attraction is the face, face of Ezra and Adam are similar looking. Both mother and daughter want to marry with Adam. Peter love Lavinia but she cannot love him. Here one observation is, Lavinia may be not love him, but she dislike her mother and her mother likes Adam. She feels jealousy towards her mother that if she marries with him she becomes happy.
Here we found one question that really Christine murder Ezra, giving him poison? May be Ezra becomes more happy looking that Christine taking care of him, and in state of overjoy he died. Suddenly he gets attention from his wife and he cannot bear it so he was died. It is question that who kill him love or poison? In one seen Orin and Lavinia both secretly follows their mother, Christine who goes to meet Adam in east Boston. They listen whole conversation of them. Then Orin shoots Adam, and he died. Orin kill Adam because Christine love Adam, she cannot give attention to him. Orin love his mother, here we found oedipal complex in this play. After all this Christine kills herself. Only two member of Mannon family was left.We found that Orin become Ezra, he looks like Ezra and Lavinia becomes Christine, she looks like Christine. After looking at Lavinia Peter thinks that she is the ghost of Christine. Here Eugene O’Neil put ghostly seen, someone sings a song near to the house, and also dark shadow of someone is shown on the wall of the house. The Mannon family is very famous and people feel proud on them because they are connected with army. Orin as last male member of Mannon family he writes criminal history of Mannon family. Orin also committed suicide after giving envelop to Hazel, she is also important character in the play. Orin told her, she should open it if: 1 something happened to him and 2 Lavinia tries to marry Peter.At the end of the play O’Neil trays to says that the story of Mannon family is going to darkness.
In this play we found that he uses symbols frequently and effectively. This play is continuation of the Greek tradition. In this one play he uses two complex “Electra” and “Oedipal”. Lavinia says that no one is remaining, I will give punishment to myself, and she locked herself in to his father’s library. Mannon house becomes the grave of Mannon family.
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- Works Cited
Baraiya, Saeyu. 'the Mourning Becomes Electera'. 4 November 2014. 2015 <http://www.baraiyasaryu1315.blogsport.in/2014/11/themourning-becomes-electra.html?m=1>.
Guide, Navigate Study. Mouring Becomes Electra Essay-Critical Eassay. n.d. 2015 <http://www.enotes.com/topics/mourning-becomes/critical-eassays>.
O'Neill, Eugene. Mourning Becomes Electra. New York City, 1931.