Ans. Trilogy is a group of three literary works that together compose a larger narrative. Early types of trilogy resulted from the common practice of Athenian playwrights, who would submit tragedies as groups of three plays for performance in the Dionysia. Examples include the Oresteia of Aeschylus and Sophocles' trilogy of Oedipus Rex, Antigone, and Oedipus at Colona.
Ans. "Mourning" means the expression of sorrow for someone's death. The Mannon family is marred with deaths. Whereas "Electra" is the name of the sister of Orestes in Aeschylus's tragedy "The Oresteia", and that the play was all about the destruction of a particular family. So "Electra" refers to Lavinia in the play who is left alone after the destruction of her family.
Ans. Born in 1888, Eugene O'Neill's life spanned some of the most important events of contemporary history. The issues related to democracy and materialism figure prominently in his plays. "Mourning Becomes Electra" explore the problems confronting American society, particularly rampant materialism, loss of individuality, lack of spiritual values, incest, sin and guilt.
Ans. O'Neil has used myth and legend as symbols in his play "Mourning Becomes Electra" to give a broad and universal significance to his theme. He has used the Electra legend to achieve an approximation to the Greek sense of fate, such as would appeal to modern audiences.
Ans. If the mask like faces in "Mourning Becomes Electra" establish the puritan male tradition, the woman's hair and eyes symbolize the opposing 'pagan' one. The richness of the hair of Christine and Lavinia points to primitive and vigorous sensuality. The eyes of the women link them with the islands.
Ans. O'Neill has interwoven the "Blessed Islands" in "Mourning Becomes Electra" -- influenced by Melville's Typee -- as the motif of an unattainable pipe-dream. The Blessed Islands show the desire for love, harmony, and sexual freedom of all the protagonists in the play. They are the counterpart of puritanism and civilization. However, these islands do not really offer an escape.
Ans. 'Shenandoah' is a traditional American folk song. It is the theme song in the play "Mourning Becomes Electra". It occurs six times in the trilogy. The chanty may be regarded as an equivalent of the choral songs in Greek tragedy. Some believe that the song refers to the river of the same name while others suggest that it is of Native American origin, for it tells the tale of Sally, the daughter of the Indian Chief Shenandoah.
Ans. Almost all the characters are the haunted. They are emotionally death, the house is a tomb. Death seems to be haunting everybody in the Mannon family, and it catches up to all of them one way or another. Ezra Mannon and Adam Brant are murdered. Christine and Orin commit suicide. Lavinia decides to punish herself by living alone.
Ans. The Mannons in "Mourning Becomes Electra" are driven to their self-destructive behaviour by inner needs, forbidden love, and compulsions they can neither understand nor control.
Ans. All Mannons in "Mourning Becomes Electra" seek refuge and escape from the harsh realities of the real world by dreaming of starting a new life on a South Pacific Island. They want to escape from their inner needs, forbidden love, and compulsions they can neither understand nor control.
Ans. Lavinia is a queer girl who was not given any attention by her mother during her childhood. Now she is turned indifferent to the social, ethical and moral behaviour of the human mind. When Peter asks her if Orin really loves his sister Hazel, she simply replies: "I hate love!" Lavinia lives up to this statement throughout the play.
Ans. The relationship between Lavinia and her mother Christine is a complete lack of understanding. Between the mother and daughter, there is a competition for the love of Christine's son/Lavinia's brother, Orin. Lavinia sees Christine's new love as a betrayed of her mother's relationship with her father. She also harbors a deep desire for revenge upon her mother for killing her father.
Ans. Lavinia hates her mother for many reasons. Firstly, she was not given any attention by her mother during her childhood. Secondly, she is extremely possessive for her father. Thirdly, she hates her for her adulterous acts in New York with Adam. Above all, she abhors her mother because she has poisoned her father.
Ans. Lavinia is a puritan moralist in her attitude towards Christine and Adam. She hates Adam on two counts. Firstly, she considers that he is the son of a low nurse. Secondly, she hates him for his adulterous acts in New York with her mother, Christine.
Ans. Convinced that the Mannon blood is tainted with evil, Lavinia resolves to spend the rest of her days atoning for her guild in the Mannon house. Since there is no one left to punish her, she decides to punish herself by living alone in the old house with the ghosts of her ancestors.