Mourning Becomes Electra Oedipus complex

As we know that Oedipus Rex is a Greek play in which Oedipus kills his father with his own hands in unconsciously ,and gets marry his mother.In this sense, the sense makes here Oedipus hates his father but loves his mother , it is called Oedipus complex,rather in this play ‘ Mourning Becomes Electra’ we find out two types of complex Electra and Oedipus complex in ‘ Mourning Becomes Electra’. A daughter Lavinia attracts towards his father and hates his mother which is called Electra complex ,on the other hand a son Orin loves his mother and hates his father and kills his father in his dream unconsciously.

O’Neill has adopted the story and has given sexual motivation to every twist of the plot the incestuous attractions with in the family are explicitly stated. Lavinia’s fondness for her father and jealousy for her mother, Orin’s inner self passion attachment to his mother and the insane jealousy which makes him kill her lover are illustrations of the Oedipus complex and the Electric Complex in ‘Mourning Becomes Electra’ . In this way O’Neill makes the characters themselves express it. Christine tells her daughters Lavinia

“you have tried to become the wife of your father and the mother of Orin you have always schemed to steal my place”.

In mourning becomes Electra, every male is attracted to the woman who resembles his mother in physical appearance and every female likes the man who resembles her father. The prototype of the female in the play is Mary Brantime. Christine and Lavinia  both resemble her  specially in their peculiar shade of Copper gold hair. Adam says to to Lavinia


“you are so like your mother in some ways. your face is the dead image of her. Looked  at your hair. I only know one other woman who had hair like this .you will think it strange  when I tell you. It was my mother”.

Mamon  women are identified with one another through this symbol .The Mamnon men  Adam, Ezra and Orin too, look alike. Keeping this pattern, according to Freudian or Freudianism or Psychological theory in Mourning Becomes Electra ,the involvements are predictable .Adam lover Christine ,Lavinia loves her father, Adam and Orin Ezra loves his wife and daughter ,Orin  loves his mother ,and sister, reciprocally ,Lavinia hates Christine ,  Adam hates Ezra and Orin ,Orion hated rivals  for his mother’s love Adam and Ezra .  Chirstine,s revulsion for her husband is explained by another Freudian postulate , her unfortunate experience on her wedding night, presumably Ezra’s ineffective  love making .
The complex of Orin and Lavinia are treated specially in the course of the dialogue . Lavinia has fixation  on her father and her brother and Orin is still his mother’s boy .Orin’s loves for his mother can well be termed as mother Complex. His love for her for while rife with sexual overtones is reverential . His greeting on their first  encounter in the play contains a curious  juxtaposition :” mother God  it is good to see you”. Christian deals  with him in seductive  terms emphasizing the physical in their relationship

“you are a big man now are you  not ?I can’t believe it .It seems  only yesterday when I used to find you in your night  shirt hiding in the hall  upstairs  on the chance that I would come up and you would get one more good night bliss.”

According to the play, the Oedipus complex arises because the mother loves the father to little and the son too much. In Orin and lavinia the unconscious impulse that attracts the Manon’s  groues into a fixation . The most illuminating instance of the operation of this  Frudianism  is the hero’s mother fixation . He is mother’s boy and this attachment moreover, includes an implicit connection of mother with peace, innocence and the security of infancy. While away at war Orin dreamt of his mother as an Island of peace . the island surrounds  Orin, it is a warm ,secure amid  the wash of  waters . It does not take a particularly  acute dream diagnostician to recognize the desire to return to the womb. Supplementary to this dream was the illusion that  each man  killed at the front of resemble his father. The wish to possess mother and the acting out of the father murder give Orin the classical Oedipal symptoms .This Complex moves him to murder Adam and the Brunt of his hatred falls on the father figure ,not on the mother. On intnessing   Christian morning Adam’s death , he played  with her and reprimands her to grieve on the death of a relevant ‘s bastard” who planned his father’s murder  and assuss her in the world :” I will make you forget him I will make you happy.”

Oedipus complex in ‘Mourning Becomes Electra ‘can be seen when the image of mother remains inviolet throughout the play. Even  Christine’s rejection of Lavinia does not make her  an unnatural mother ,it is the result of not begin able to consider Lavinia her child. Lavinia’s hatred seems a longing for mother love. After Christiane’s suicide Lavinivna  becomes mother she has a assumed  Chrinitne’s  function along with her personality. Her dealing with Orin is a proof of it .Even Orin is caught by this Complex and says to living


“you don’t know who like mother you have become Vinnie —–as if you were stealing hers as if her death  had set you free to be come her.”

and further  he says


“Can’t you see I am now in father’s place and you are mother.”


Oedipus complex in ‘Mourning Becomes Electra ‘ is revealed then the transformation into father and mother  is complete and Orin’s complex is completely explicit when he makes his proposal to his sister 

” I love you now with all the guilt in me the guilt we share . There are times now when you do not seem to be my sister , nor  mother ,but some stranger with same beautiful hair.”


He touches her hair caressingly . She pulls violently away but he continuously perhaps  you are Marie Brantome .By taking Lavinia Orin would  fullfil  his desire to possess mother complex he would also be able to share the burden of his guilt  the pivotal point of the action here is Lavinia ‘s horror at Orin’s proposal  there is simply no question in her mind of actual interest.
Stripped of its Island imaginary the way back  womb ,to  peace and security ,is a return to the Oblivion of personal unconsciousness .Orin cannot confess is guilt  publicly, he cannot face life with its burden .When Lavinia cries out that he should commit suicide, he hears his mother’s voice he says


“yes that would be justice now you are mother she is speaking now through you  it is the way to paste to find her again my lost  Island death is an island of peace too ,mother will be waiting for me there “

O’Neill adopted the Freudian emphasis upon the sexual instinct ,specially the much publicized Oedipus complex in ‘Mourning Becomes Electra’.  Despite intensity  dramative moments and the general power of the play, it is felt that schematisation was carried too far in the play. The characters have been deprived of tragic stature  because O’Neill in interpreting  their characteristics has relied too much upon psychological facts . They have become  more of clinical  causes than tragic figures.In conclusion it must be said that O’Neill preoccupation with psychological factors has given his plays peculiar  relevance to the 20th century themes and popularity that is undeniable  both  Freud and Jung helped to suggest to him the modern equivalent of the gods the unconscious .O’Neill powerful searching of the hidden motives and passions of the conscious and the unconscious has lent  a great dignity to his plays.

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