Minerva Arcelia Pegueros Millán Ensayo No.


Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Séptimo Semestre Diciembre 5, 2008

Mourning Becomes Electra There are many different literary devices to consider while reading and analyzing “Mourning Becomes Electra”. There is of course the characterization, the setting, the plot, the themes of the play and one could even read it focusing in the comparision between Oٰeillٰ N s work and the original Oresteia, or in its

resemblance to Oedipus Rex; but one of the most important factors to consider is the power that through metaphors, imagery and symbols, Oٰeill foreshadows one play before the next and ends N bringing togheter the three separated works as a whole. There are conventions from “Homecomming” that are repeated through “The Hunted” and “The Haunted” which, without becoming excessively repetitive, help to the unity of the trilogy. The first of this conventions is the imagery Oٰeill creates N around the physical appeareance of the Mannons, depicting them all as to have mask-like faces, even Seth is said to have the same mask eventhough he is not a Mannon, just because he has worked for them for very long. This mask-like face clearly refers to the fact that all the Mannons have secrets they want to

conceal, feelings they want to repress and, perhaps, the masklike face is also a symbol of a very strong remorse they feel but 1

is pushed to pretend he ignores what the Mannons are really like. Orin´s case is slightly different. she also fails in loving her first born child Lavinia. Even the house has a lifelike mask reflected in itٰ greek portico. like all the others. to hide the family sins and crimes inside. Ezra failed in supporting Marie Brantome when she was expelled from the Mannonٰ house. He fails also on supporting her when she asked him for money in the later future. it is also a symbol of how the Mannons are willing to hide what they 2 . Christine has failed in continue loving Orin as she is now in love with Brant. he is also a sort of s confident to Lavinia more than her gardener and. eventhough Seth s says he was the most fond of her of all the Mannons when he was a child. a mask that was built s as the character´s mask. he fails in beleiving and loving his mother in “The Hunted” so his described mask in the second play is also a foreshadowing of his actions to come.reject and try to hide from each other. Lavinia fails in protecting her family and her beloveds by the end of the third play. Seth is just a worker for the Mannons but he plays also an important role in hiding the Mannonٰ secrets (which he knows very well). remorse they perhaps feel after having failed in supporting. Eventhough this life-like mask reflects a strong willing to remain undiscovered by the rest of the members of the family. loving or believing to someone they supposedly love.

.. dies. suggestively. Iٰe been in to the green house to pick these. v I felt our tomb needed a little brightenning. They pretend to be a happy family in front of his neighbors and reject bad moral behavior to the point of claiming punishment for it.really are to society. 3 . It is also remarkable how on the one hand they condemn this moral missbehavior but on the other they are always omitting and breaking conventional social rules and moral values by their edipical loves and their revenges and murders. fact that tells us that the Mannon family is repeating cycles in which everybody kills. Each time I come back after being away it appears more like a sepulchre!. the mask is only telling us this family is already condemned to crumble and extinguish. The mask is just something that tells the reader this characters are not to trust for they are not really what they pretend to be. all the Mannons are already dead. The mask is also a symbol of death.. From the begining of the play. or better. as Cristine says in “Homecomming” act I refering to the house: “CRISTINE:..” Christine knows they are all already dead because perhaps it has always been this way. sins and tries to hide it. this life-like mask could just have been formed after years and years. after generations and generations of Mannon crimes and sins.

“Mourning Becomes Electra” is clearly adressed to the character of Lavinia and to how she. perhaps. as to in all the the characters is.. this line is the only that strikingly parallelyses with the title of the play. It is as if O´Neill wanted to complete the title of the play by writing this line which.” From all the dialogues and the monologues that the three plays endure. Deat sits so naturally on you! Death becomes the Mannons!. from all the Mannons. as it really depicts what the destiny of the Mannons. is through all the play as one by one dies. A second convention is the symbolism the South Seas islands have through the three plays. the apart from of Lavinia this and to title destiny apparently condemned family... It seems that he could easily have written by a title “Mourning Becomes Electra. but Lavinia´s. is an attempt to be sympatetic resume... The general meaning of the islands 4 . but Death Becomes the Mannons”.This becomes clearer in the line that Orin adresses to Ezra when he sees his dead body for the first time in “The Hunted” act III: “ORIN-. Orinٰ line “Death s becomes the Mannons!” is a parallel of the title that adresses to the rest of the family and that could be easily exchanged for the title of the play. is the only character who is doomed to Mourn the falling of all her family in a self-concious decition to seclude herself from the world during ther rest of her life.

and she also mourns about them when her plans of going there with Peter fail. For Brant. but later he rejects them as he goes there with Lavinia. she had to go to the islands. Orin thinks his mother to be his particular island. where she discovered her feminity. but its meaning slightly changes depending on who is talking about them We learn about the Islands the first time when Brant talks to Lavinia in “Homecomming” act I. though their meaning changes through the plays. for that transformation to happen. 5 . as he calls them the “Blessed isles” are a place where you can forget “all menٰ dirty s dreams of greed and power”. for instance. For Lavinia. During “The Haunted” Lavinia passes through a whole transformation in which she becomes her mother and of course. The fantasy of the blessed islands recurs among all the characters and it is noticeable how this islands are mainly their principal object of mourning.is that of the paradise where happiness can be reached. the islands are a sinless place full of innocent natives.

to it is the here truth where. about paralelyzing. The studio is the only place where the Mannons speak the truth. where Orin decides to write the truth about the Mannons in his manuscript of the family history during “The Haunted”. and it is finally here. her mother´s Lavinia also reveals Orin Adultery in “The Hunted”. It is here where in “Homecomming” Lavinia confronts her mother to the truth of her adultery. This symbol is so strong that Orin and Christine commit suicide there in the studio.The third and final of this conventions is the symbol of the character of Ezra and his studio. his studio and his portrait continue to stand for the only way the Mannons get to face their reality and decide to act out of what they recognize as justice. including his portrait as a judge. justice and law. in front of the judge. Even when Ezra dies in “Homecomming”. in what it may be an attempt to redeem all the wrong they have done. 6 . They all evidently symbolize judgemnt.