Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Mourning Becomes Electra” as Want to Read:
Mourning Becomes Electra
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Mourning Becomes Electra

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  3,565 Ratings  ·  65 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 January 1st 1931)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Mourning Becomes Electra, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Mourning Becomes Electra

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee WilliamsDeath of a Salesman by Arthur MillerThe Crucible by Arthur MillerThe Glass Menagerie by Tennessee WilliamsWho's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee
Best American Plays
23rd out of 198 books — 293 voters
The Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellBrave New World by Aldous HuxleyOf Mice and Men by John SteinbeckThe Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Best Books of the Decade: 1930s
96th out of 457 books — 803 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Sep 24, 2010 Dave rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
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
Dec 09, 2015 Leslie rated it really liked it
This is one of the classic plays that you hear about, but I hadn't read. We selected plays for our latest "Reading Around the Library" and I decided to read this one. This is a three part drama, essentially three plays that make up one larger work. My undergraduate class in Greek drama provided a good base for much of the meaning of the drama. One word kept popping into my head whenever I finished reading a section -- fraught. It was rife with tension, madness, incestuous leanings, adultery, dea ...more
I did enjoy this. Beatrix Lehmann played the role of Lavinia in the 1938 London production and it was considered one of her best roles. I really love Greek drama and this was a retelling which actually worked quite well. The setting just after the American civil was seemed to mirror that of the Greek quite well. The rich eccentric family and their "odd" ways could easily fit in. I'm not sure all the incest really worked as well in the 19th century setting though. Still despite that it was a very ...more
Aida Ghazar
Jul 11, 2016 Aida Ghazar rated it it was amazing
One of the best plays of O'Neill!Inspired by Greek Mythology ,the play takes place in the Mannon residence.General Ezra Manon the head of the family, returns from battlefield only ironically,facing death at home,in the hands of his wife,Christine. Christine feels great hatred towards him, which leads her to poison him, for her to be free to live with her lover,and then we witness the consequences. Lavinia their daughter had not seen any love from her mother since she was a child,and hates and de ...more
May 22, 2012 Joe rated it it was ok
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.
Jul 03, 2016 Helga rated it it was amazing
Shelves: play
This is a modern retelling of the Greek tragedy "Oresteia" by Aeschylus
Aug 31, 2009 Tom rated it it was ok
According to the college professor who assigned this, when translated into Norwegian, the title became "Getting Electricity in the Morning." :)
Apr 26, 2009 Swankivy rated it liked it
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
Vlady Peters
Feb 07, 2016 Vlady Peters rated it it was amazing
Just recently, quite by accident, I came across a short story by Scott Fitzgerald. I recognised it as a story on which the film, ‘The Last Time I saw Paris’ was based. Based very loosely, I might add. Fitzgerald himself worked on the screenplay and happy with the result.

Desperate for money he sold it to a producer, who in his turn sold it to a movie company, and subsequently rewritten as to almost obliterate the original story. One reviewer of the film is recorded as saying:

‘’(the person) who d
Cameron Gordon
Oct 26, 2015 Cameron Gordon rated it liked it
When a master writes, even his misfires are instructive and packing a punch. I have read the greater part of O'Neill's work and seen some of his work staged. This is a famous work, not one of his lesser ones in that sense, but it does not entirely work as a literary work (though I have to say, I can imagine it might play well on the stage). The dialogue is good and the writing strong. The characters are, overall, rather limited, though vivid. They exist to play out the mythology that O'Neill is ...more
May 26, 2016 Tom rated it it was amazing
What a tinderbox this play is! Based on the tragic 'Orestia' trilogy from Aeschylus, 'Mourning Becomes Electra' takes every opportunity to revel in the high drama provided by its source material. And it's just as well—taken all together the three parts could easily last five hours in performance.

Ezra Mannon, analogous to Agamemnon, is returning from the Civil War, analogous to Troy. His wife Christine, long fallen out of love with the distant military man, plans to kill him and take on a young l
Julie Decker
Jul 25, 2014 Julie Decker rated it liked it
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
Jun 18, 2015 Marie rated it liked it
I didn't particularly like of dislike this book. It was kind of interesting looking at the viewpoint and emotions between a mother and daughter. The mother doesn't love her daughter and yet she feels sorry for not being able to love her daughter that came from her own body. But, she does love Orin, a boy who is not her child, but because she was with him so much she grew attached to him and thought of him as her own. I kind of can relate to this book since me and my mother are not as well connec ...more
Mina Soare
Jun 17, 2015 Mina Soare rated it liked it
A colorul adaptaion of Aeschylus' Oresteia, this tragic trilogy offers a more complex perspective, interspersed with themes of war, hate, Oedipus complex and family relationships. It is a charming little collection, if unfinished. The mix of blatant and subtle is cacophonous in its lack of middle ground; on the background of every relationship being loud and flashy, themes like nostalgia, murder and justice and war seem almost like and afterthought.

There is the delightful issue "Electra" as the
Adam K.
Jul 02, 2015 Adam K. rated it it was amazing
Quite the downer of a tragedy. It takes place shortly after the end of the Civil War, but this play (or trilogy of plays, rather) is distinctly 20th century. O'Neill was actually born in 1888, two decades after the end of the war, so he doesn't seem to be trying to capture something distinct about that era, nor does he pretend as if he is. In fact, we see in the tragedy of the Mannon family, which takes place very much at their own hands--more specifically the hands of Vinnie and Christine--some ...more
Aug 14, 2016 Libbye rated it did not like it
I honestly just skimmed most of it. This was the third and final of O'Neill's plays that I attempted and I found all of them grossly similar in their writing of women and since that was the center of the plot each time, I don't feel petty for allowing it to form my opinion of these plays. I didn't find anything particularly worthy of contributing to the tragic truths of the human condition, I just read boring, similar plots about family dramas with a tainted woman at the center. This one admitte ...more
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
Jul 25, 2014 Sitara Kashif rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 21, 2014 Cati rated it it was amazing
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 :)
Dec 02, 2012 Brian rated it really liked it
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
Dec 20, 2014 Raquel rated it really liked it
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
Jim Leckband
Apr 12, 2012 Jim Leckband rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 14, 2015 Linda rated it really liked it
The concept of this masterpiece is something that happens, but people do not like to think about it. The writing is excellent, but it takes the human soul to dark places. That is typical of the author. Incest is not a pleasant thought, but this work has other disturbing characters and subjects. The minds of the players turn on a dime!
Sarah Barry
Jul 11, 2014 Sarah Barry rated it liked it
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.
Sep 27, 2015 Marsi rated it liked it
U téhle knihy si tak nějak nejsem jistá hodnocením. Četlo se to dobře, mělo to dějový spád (až na pár momentů), pozoruhodné postavy s ještě pozoruhodnější psychologií, která mi však nepřišla dotažená do konce. A občas mi výstupy přišly děsně naivní a konec - facepalm. :D
May 14, 2016 Kimberley rated it really liked it
Had to read this play for my theatre course at university and I loved it. Couldn't put it down. So glad I had to read this for school, don't think I would've picked it up otherwise. Definitely recommend it!
Aug 07, 2016 George rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's impressive how O'Neill manages to carry the spirit of the ancient tragedy into this modern play.
Apr 07, 2013 Katie rated it really liked it
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
Stella Chereti
Sep 06, 2016 Stella Chereti rated it it was amazing
Μετάφραση Δέσπω Διαμαντίδου!
Τα υπόλοιπα απλώς !!!!!
Dec 23, 2015 John rated it really liked it
Shelves: drama
O'Neill's take on Greek Tragedy with a generous helping of Freud.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Master Builder
  • A Delicate Balance
  • The Night of the Iguana (Acting Edition)
  • Candida
  • The Skin of Our Teeth
  • True West
  • The Threepenny Opera
  • Electra
  • Krapp's Last Tape & Embers
  • The Playboy of the Western World
  • Rhinoceros / The Chairs / The Lesson
  • The Clean House and Other Plays
  • Four Plays: Come Back, Little Sheba / Picnic / Bus Stop / The Dark at the Top of the Stairs
  • The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade
  • Electra
  • The Way of the World
  • Naked Masks: Five Plays
  • American Buffalo
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
More about Eugene O'Neill...

Share This Book

“You said they had found the secret of happiness because they had never heard that love can be a sin.” 12 likes
“Where am I? What the hell difference is it? There’s plenty o’ fresh air and the moon fur a glim. Don’t be so damn pertic’lar!” 2 likes
More quotes…