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Mourning Becomes Electra

The play is actually a trilogy of thirteen acts and is reagarded ad O'Neil's most important work. It is based on The Oresteia (525 B.C.), a trilogy written by the Greek playwright, Aeschylus, but it is transferred to a modern setting and context, in which the Greek Atrides are reincarnated in the American Mannons, an important family in one of the small New England seaport towns at the close of the Civil War. The three plays take plays take place in either spring or summer of the years 1865-66.

Homecoming (4 Acts) - Lavinia (Electra in the Greek trilogy) is waiting for the homecoming of her father Ezra Mannon (Agamemnon) and her brother Orin (Orestes) from the Civil War. During their absence, Ezra's wife, Christine (Clytemnestra) has been having an affair with the sea captain Adam Brant (Aegisthus), an illegitimate and despised member of the Mannon family. Lavinia, secretly in love with Brant and loyal to her father, asks her mother to break with the captain, threatening to reveal her infidelity to Ezra. But, when Ezra returns, Christine, with Brant's help, poisons him disguising his death as a heart attack. Lavinia who guesses the truth, vows revenge.

The Hunted (5 Acta) - When Orin comes home, Lavinia informs him of Christine's crime and, pricking his jealousy, tries to persuade him to kill the two lovers. In the end, on the ship that should take the couple away, Orin shoots Brant only, saving the life of his adored mother who, stricken with grief, shame and horror, eventually shoots herself.

The Haunted (4 Acts) - Back home from the trip taken together to forget the terrible past events, Lavinia and Orin realize that their house is still haunted by Christine's "presence". Moreover, growing into maturity, Lavinia comes more and more to resemble her mother, while Orin becomes the image of his father.

He begins to see and desire his sister as if she were Christine, not herself. Lavinia refuses his offer of love, and he, also feeling responsible for his mother's death, kills himself with the same gun already used by his mother.
As a self-punishment Lavinia gives up her intention of marrying to her friend Peter and condemns herself to a self-enclosed life in the dark, haunted Mannon house.

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