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Mourning Becomes Electra
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Mourning Becomes Electra

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  2,833 ratings  ·  46 reviews
A three-part reworking of themes from Greek tragedy, the plays are set in New England in 1865, just after the Civil War. A returning victor, General Ezra Mannon (Agamemnon), is poisoned by his unfaithful wife Christine (Clytemnestra) and then avenged by his son Orin (Orestes) and daughter (Lavinia). With Orin's subsequent suicide, Lavinia (the Electra of the title) becomes ...more
Paperback, 162 pages
Published May 1st 1992 by Nick Hern Books (first published 1931)
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This was my first O'Neill experience. Crazy. This cycle of plays reminds me of how interconnected (in sometimes freaky ways) are the ideas of life, death, love, hate, societal standards, and taboos. All of these concepts play a sort of round robin tournament as life combines with death, love, hate, standards, and morals everything connects with everything else. It's certainly not always a pleasant combination, but one worth contemplating. I would love to see this staged, especially to see the ar ...more
I read this one mostly out of historical interest. I'm reasonably fond of theatre and must admit to being puzzled by this play's reputation. To me it was extremely ham-handed. Anything that wasn't taken from the Oresteia was taken straight from Freud. I know Freudian theories of personality were more accepted when the play was written, but to me the relationships of the Mannon family were laughably two-dimensional.
According to the college professor who assigned this, when translated into Norwegian, the title became "Getting Electricity in the Morning." :)
A family with Oedipus and Electra complexes abounding is doomed to repeat the recurring love/hate relationships which were the foundation of their family. Each attempts to get from family the kind of love they should get from lovers, and as a result none can build on a healthy foundation that a family connection should afford them. The cycle of the family is a predictable recurring dysfunction that the characters nevertheless seem powerless to stop. In a way, each character becomes his ancestor ...more
Julie Decker
Based on the Oedipal drama, this is the story of a family driven by incestuous love and desire to embody the roles they admire. Ezra, the patriarch of the family, returns from war to find his wife, Christine, making vicious claims of infidelity. Their children, a boy called Orin and a girl called Lavinia, are passionately obsessed with their cross-sex parent and consider their same-sex parent a rival. The scheming children take pains to punish and eliminate their parents, only to take their plac ...more
Aug 14, 2014 Raquel rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
While this play is set during the late civil war/post-war times, it is based on the Greek play Oresteia, and quite brilliantly so. It has all the elements of a strong tragedy, including hopelessly flawed characters and unceasing drama and conflict. Despite it being based on Oresteia, it includes a case of the Oedpius complex, not just the Electra complex.
Revolving around mother-daughter and father-son rivalry, the three plays are driven by the turmoil caused by the father and son returning from
Feb 26, 2009 Cara marked it as to-read
I know I read this in college but I think it deserves a re-read.
Sitara Kashif
O'Neil has re-told the story from Greek myth 'curse on the house of Atreus', and modernized it according to our times , Lavinia is Electra, Orestes is Orin, Ezra Manon is Agamemnon , Christine is Clytemnestra. he has skipped the part dealing with Helen an Paris and has replaced it by creating another forbidden love of Abe Manon and the nurse who gave birth to Adam Brant and Adam Brant is Augustus from the old Oresteia by Aeschylus.
This really is a masterpiece. While it may sadden your heart out, it is wonderfully written and prone to so many wonderful readings. A reworking of the classical Greek tragedy of Electra, set in America after the Civil War, it is a dream raw material for any theater director. i've seen many good renderings and I believe any actor who pulled off one of the roles in this can be credited with true talent :)
exciting play. i went on a weekend trip to ireland, and read one play in about an hour in between destinations. o'neill does a fantastic job building suspense in each act and at the end of each play. you'll be excited to see where the characters end up at the end of the play. i can't say that it was too shocking, as o'neill gives clear juxtapositions between characters and you aren't surprised to see where they ultimately end up. but then again, i feel that that is inevitable when you can read a ...more
Jim Leckband
Finally a masterpiece! I've been reading the Library of America's collection of O'Neill plays and have been intrigued by the growth of the artist through one-acts and weird experiments, but hardly any play worked all the way through until this one.

The structure is based on the Oedipus/Electra myths but for once O'Neill does not overtly force the symbolism and lets the Orin/Lavinia characters stand as there own beings, rather than stand-ins. There are Greek play nods, such as a little chorus here
Sarah Barry
This play is really fascinating, especially if you are familiar with the Oresteia. (I'd suggest reading that first if you haven't.) But, oh my god, O'Neill's stage directions are just too much for me sometimes. I'd really like to see this on stage, though.
Momina Masood
Modeled on the Orestes/Electra myth, this play, like Sartre's The Flies, is a potent and depressing account of human wickedness and brutality, though a little less oppressive than the former. It is also suggestive of the Freudian Oedipus/Electra complexes and you can see the play from any one perspective, if you're not familiar with both (the myth and Freud). I wouldn't recommend this to anyone because of its dark and depressive themes but it is written very well and O'Neill manages to keep the ...more
I didn't think it was possible to adapt the story of Electra into anything good, much less an adaptation into fairly recent times. Yet O'Neill did it, and very well. He transforms the story, yet keeps it the same; you know what's going to happen [if you know the story] and yet you don't, not really.
I liked the three separate parts, each with multiple levels; it made the play more complete and thorough; like other works of his, it almost seems more a novel than a play. Which I like. But thi
Mar 06, 2014 ☯Bettie☯ rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Laura, Carey, Casnewydd Hydra - all BBC listeners
To find Karen suggest I look for the film...

Description: A three-part reworking of themes from Greek tragedy, the plays are set in New England in 1865, just after the Civil War. A returning victor, General Ezra Mannon (Agamemnon), is poisoned by his unfaithful wife Christine (Clytemnestra) and then avenged by his son Orin (Orestes) and daughter (Lavinia). With Orin's subsequent suicide, Lavinia (the Electra of the title) becomes a fatalistic recluse in the Mannon mansion. The author was four tim
I read this when I was in high school and that is a very long time ago. Still I consider this one of those books that did change something profoundly in my knowledge about drama, literature, theater & greek mythes. A classic with a modern twist that can be dark and creepy at times. I am tempted to say that I do consider this a must read for anyone who loves Greek mythology.
I know that there are no new stories and that O'Neill just redid The Orestia in this play, but I am amazed at how well he did it. I was sucked in from the opening line to the last. I so much want to see this play performed. The notion of masks that is prevalent throughout the play and how they protect the characters from feeling emotions intrigues me.
Florin Pitea
A very impressive dramatic work - a trilogy of tragedies set in New England, in the aftermath of the American Civil War, with echoes from Aeschilus' "Oresteia". Recommended. For an extended review, please visit my blog:
My first O'Neill experience. Wow. The man is so cinematographical - it's one of the most detailed plays I've encountered, he has every expression and every detail in mind.
I'm a sucker for recurring family tragedies. and the Greeks.
Saludos for this play. I'd really like to see it on stage one day.
Rebecca Blackson
Sick, Oedipal, tragic, pointless, and who in the world is Electra? I decided to read it because it was famous (and wanted to see why) and because it has a cool title. The title is the only cool thing about it. Mourning did not become anyone in this play. It was a bunch of murder, misery, and suicide.
The modern story of Miss Electra ... didn't like the original one either so this one half and half
I guess because it is overly used
If I'd see it preformed I might like it better than by reading it ... after all it is a play ;)
April Helms
Loved this creepy, dark play as a teen. A very sad story that combines the Oedipus complex and Electra complex. Two siblings worship one parent, while detesting the other. The parental and sibling obsessions leads to tragedy.
These are some messed up people. I don't know what else I can say about it. Other than commenting on the insane amounts of detail for a play and O'Neill's odd obsession with the song "Shenandoah". But it was very good.
Marshall Comstock
Pretty unsettling, but in a weird almost pleasurable way. With so much focus on the dead I think a zombie adaptation could be interesting, although it would probably completely ruin the intended tone.
Michelle Lynne Widmann
We read this book in school alongside Oedipus Rex, and I loved the juxtaposition. I also found this play a lot more complex than Oedipus, which actually ended up being refreshing. I loved reading this play.
okay I am a lover of Eugene O'Neill's works..I had the pleasure of being the stage manager in an off Broadway Production. It's inthe genre of Harper lee,and John Steinbeck such rich writing.
It has incest,electra complexes, oedipus complexes, and much , much more juicy stuff. This book will make you gasp in disgust at every turn. Love it!
Perhaps my most glorious reading experience ever--completely transported, perched on the summit of Severance Hill on a golden, autumn afternoon
Heather Lynn
I adore Eugene O'Neill, but Mourning Becomes Electra did not live up to my expectations. It was not quite as good as I was expecting.
Review of a horrible NYC production here:
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Eugene Gladstone O'Neill was an American playwright who won the 1936 Nobel Prize in Literature "for the power, honesty and deep-felt emotions of his dramatic works, which embody an original concept of tragedy." More than any other dramatist, O'Neill introduced American drama to the dramatic realism pioneered by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, and Swedish playwr ...more
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