Places: Mourning Becomes Electra

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1931

First produced: 1931

Type of work: Drama

Type of plot: Tragedy

Time of work: 1860’s

Places DiscussedMannon mansion

Mannon Mourning Becomes Electramansion. Home of the Mannon family, on the outskirts of a small, unnamed New England village near the sea, that is the setting for twelve of the thirteen acts of the trilogy. As each of the three plays progresses from act to act, the settings move from the mansion’s exterior to its interior. Gradually, the house’s study, Ezra’s bedroom, and the sitting room are revealed. O’Neill’s description of the surrounding area, with its woods, orchard, garden, lawn, and greenhouse, are carefully detailed. The position of the mansion on a hill above the town suggests the assumed power and assumed superiority of the Mannon family. O’Neill describes the house in such detail that it is clear he considers it integral to the action of his plot.

Clipper ship

Clipper ship. The only setting other than the exterior and interior of the Mannon mansion is the stern of a ship and the wharf to which it is moored. This is used only in the fourth act of The Hunter, the second play in O’Neill’s trilogy, when General Mannon’s son, Orin, kills the ship’s captain.

BibliographyBerlin, Normand, ed. Eugene O’Neill, Three Plays: “Mourning Becomes Electra,” “The Iceman Cometh,” “Long Day’s Journey into Night”: A Casebook. Basingstoke, England: Macmillan, 1989. A good introduction. Includes excerpts from O’Neill’s working diary, tracing the play’s development from inception to second galleys. Contains four reviews of the original production, and seven critical studies dealing with character, theme, and style.Bogard, Travis. Contour in Time. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988. Provides detailed comparison between Mourning Becomes Electra and Euripides and Aeschylus, noting the shift from theological to psychological emphasis. Discusses importance as historical drama, focusing on Calvinist tradition and Puritan repression in New England.Floyd, Virginia. The Plays of Eugene O’Neill. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1985. An excellent introduction. Includes brief biography and interpretive analysis of each play, identifying themes, key words, and ideas. Relates Mourning Becomes Electra to its Greek source and to O’Neill’s life.Gelb, Arthur, and Barbara Gelb. O’Neill. New York: Harper & Row, 1962. Comprehensive study of O’Neill’s life and work based on his writings and over four hundred interviews with family members, friends, and critics. Begins with his ancestors and traces his growth as a man and an artist. Follows the development of Mourning Becomes Electra from idea to production.Moorton, Richard F., ed. Eugene O’Neill’s Century: Centennial Views on America’s Foremost Tragic Dramatist. New York: Greenwood Press, 1991. Presents essays from a variety of perspectives, theatrical arts, psychology, philosophy, classics, which analyze and psychoanalyze character and theme in O’Neill. Includes detailed comparison between The Haunted and Eumenides.
Categories: Places