Mourning Becomes Electra

by: Eugene O'Neill

Motifs

The Blessed Islands

The fantasy of the Blessed Island recurs among the major players as the lost Mother-Son dyad disrupted by the Oedipal drama. It, rather than any of their deaths, is the trilogy's principal object of mourning.

Orin offers the most extensive vision of the Blessed Island to Christine in Act II of "The Hunted." A sanctuary from the war, the Island is a warm, peaceful, and secure paradise composed of the mother's body. Thus Orin can imagine himself with Christine without her being there. In terms of the trilogy's sexual drama, the Blessed Island is the realm of the pre-Oedipal, the time of plentitude and wholeness shared by mother and child. However, Orin goes to war to do his duty as a Mannon.

The Natives

The Blessed Islands are also populated, in the players' imaginations, by natives, which entwine their fantasies of sex with those of race. Generally the native appears through two divergent images: the sexual innocent and the sexually depraved. Thus, for example, Lavinia will recall the islands as the home of timeless children, dancing naked on the beach and loving without sin. This island is the perfect home for a prelapsarian love affair. For Orin, however, the natives display an almost bestial sexual prowess, stripping his sister with their lascivious gazes. The native assumes these proportions when imagined as rivals, the prowess and pleasure they would ostensibly provide the lover becoming objects of envy.