Mourning Becomes Electra Questions and Answers
by Eugene O’Neill

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Explain why Mourning Becomes Electra and Long Day's Journey into Night are complementary.

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The two works, both written by American dramatist Eugene O'Neill, are only complementary in the sense they are written by the same author and concern the same subject matter—namely, family.

Mourning Becomes Electra, which is a cycle of three plays, is essentially a rewrite of Oresteia by the Greek tragedian Aeschylus. Like all forms of Greek tragedy, the work is a meditation on the concept of fate. However, some critics have noted that the play's deep psychological mining of the characters summons the work of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung.

Long Day's Journey into Night is, on the other hand, O'Neill's most autobiographical work. It is a thinly disguised portrait of his youth as the wayward, seafaring son of a once-promising actor. O'Neill wrote it late in his life, in the throes of Parkinson disease. He never wanted it to be performed, but his widow made sure that it was after his death. It is a heartbreaking story, and the writing of the play took a considerable emotional toll on O'Neill. Some still consider it to be the high-water mark of American drama.The Iceman Cometh, another of O'Neill's plays of that era, is partly autobiographical and recalls the author's misspent days when he was drinking himself to near-death in a boarding house on New York's Lower East Side.

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