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Mourning Becomes Electra

Eugene O'Neill


Key Facts

Key Facts

full title ·  Mourning Becomes Electra

author · Eugene O'Neill

type of work · Drama

genre · Tragedy/Psychological Drama

language · English

time and place written · Written largely in France, from 1926–1931

date of first publication · 1931

publisher · Random House, Inc.

narrator · None

point of view · Not applicable

tone · Tragic

tense · The play unfolds in the time of the present

setting (time) · Spring or Summer, 1865–1866

setting (place) · The Mannon house in New England; a harbor in East Boston

protagonists · Lavinia Mannon, Orin Mannon, Christine Mannon, Ezra Mannon

major conflict · Brigadier-General Ezra Mannon has returned from the Civil War. His duplicitous wife Christine and her lover, Adam Brant, plot his murder. Mannon's daughter, Lavinia, and son, Orin, discover their mother's treachery and destroy the two lovers in turn. They must then suffer the vengeance of the dead.

rising action · In "Homecoming," rising action consists of the confrontation between Ezra and Christine. In "The Hunted," it consists of the revelation of Brant's murder to Christine. In "The Haunted," it consists of Orin's incestuous proposition to Lavinia.

climax · In "Homecoming," Ezra's murder functions as climax and closes the play. In "The Hunted," Christine's suicide does the same. In "The Haunted," Orin's figures as climax.

falling action · Breaks follow the first two climaxes leading into the townsfolk scenes that open the subsequent plays. A brief interlude with Seth follows the break after Orin's suicide.

themes · Oedipus, Fate, Repetition, and Substitution, The Rival and Double, the Law of the Father

motifs · The Blessed Islands, The Native

symbols · The Mannon house

foreshadowing · The foreshadowing in Mourning is oppressive and omnipresent. For example, Ezra's apprehension of his imminent death, and Christine's fear that she will soon lose Brant forever

More Help

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Incorrect Reference undr Themes and Motifs

by robertehiggins, April 14, 2015

In Mourning Becomes Electra you write: "Oedipus was the Theban king who unwittingly killed his father and MURDERED his mother." [Emphasis mine].

It should read: "Oedipus...MARRIED his mother!"

(Oedipus' mother Jocasta did commit suicide after learning her lover was her son. Oedipus however did NOT "murder" her.)

Haunted act 2

by you-know-who007, May 12, 2015

In the first paragraph, it's ORIN not Peter who is writing a manuscript.


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