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What is the significance of title the 'Mourning Becomes Electra'?

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expiredsoul | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 10, 2011 at 11:27 PM via web

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What is the significance of title the 'Mourning Becomes Electra'?

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appletrees | College Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted January 11, 2011 at 8:32 AM (Answer #1)

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The title works on two different levels; on an aural level, O'Neill makes it sound like the title refers to a positive rebirth and transformation. One could think of the image of "morning" becoming "electric"; this is an image of brightness and renewal. This is ironic given the title's actual meaning, but having it work on two levels adds surprising depth.

However, the "mourning" in the title is actually a reference to the clothing one wears at a funeral or when mourning the dead. The idea that funereal garb is "becoming" (i.e., attractive) is commentary on the character Lavinia (who is modeled after Electra in the Greek tragedy this play is based upon), a young woman who resents her mother's marriage to another man soon after the death of Lavinia's father. The idea that the attitude of mourning is "becoming" refers to Lavinia's character arc; she comes to realize she harbors too much anger and pain and it is not making her thrive.

 

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