Mourning Becomes Electra Essay

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In the following essay, Schmidt analyzes O'Neill's attempt to modernize Oresteia, and how these changes affected the theme and structure of the play.

Early in his composition of Mourning Becomes Electra, Eugene O'Neill stated his goal and problem: to create a "modern psychological drama using one of the old legend plots of Greek tragedy for its basic theme," asking "Is it possible to get [a] modern psychological approximation of the Greek sense of fate into such a play, which an intelligent audience of today, possessed of no belief in gods or supernatural retribution, could accept and be moved by."

O'Neill also wanted to present a play with a uniquely American sensibility, and so he set the play in post-Civil War New England because it evoked the "Puritan conviction of man born to sin and punishment." While O'Neill generally succeeded in his goal of adapting from an ancient Greek...

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This section contains 2,360 words
(approx. 6 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Mourning Becomes Electra Study Guide
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