Places Discussed

Mannon mansion

Mannon mansion. Home of the Mannon family, on the outskirts of a small, unnamed New England village near the sea, that is the setting for twelve of the thirteen acts of the trilogy. As each of the three plays progresses from act to act, the settings move from the mansion’s exterior to its interior. Gradually, the house’s study, Ezra’s bedroom, and the sitting room are revealed. O’Neill’s description of the surrounding area, with its woods, orchard, garden, lawn, and greenhouse, are carefully detailed. The position of the mansion on a hill above the town suggests the assumed power and assumed superiority of the Mannon family. O’Neill describes the house in such detail that it is clear he considers it integral to the action of his plot.

Clipper ship

Clipper ship. The only setting other than the exterior and interior of the Mannon mansion is the stern of a ship and the wharf to which it is moored. This is used only in the fourth act of The Hunter, the second play in O’Neill’s trilogy, when General Mannon’s son, Orin, kills the ship’s captain.

Historical Context

Born in 1888, Eugene O'Neill's life spanned some of the most important events of contemporary history. While he played no actual role in the...

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Literary Style

Traditionally in Greek tragedies, the chorus consists of masked actors who dance and chant. Generally, they do...

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Compare and Contrast

1931: America is in the midst of a severe economic depression, known as the Great Depression. Led by President Franklin...

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Topics for Further Study

Consider how setting the play after the Civil War and in New England impacts the play's themes and meaning.

Several times during...

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Media Adaptations

In 1947, RKO Pictures released an adaptation of the play, which starred Raymond Massey, Rosalind Russell, and Michael Redgrave. The film...

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What Do I Read Next?

Aristophanes' Lysistrata (411 BC) is a comic—and perhaps the first—anti-war play.


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Bibliography and Further Reading

Brustein, Robert. "Eugene O'Neill," in The Theatre of Revolt: An Approach to the Modern Drama,...

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(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Berlin, Normand, ed. Eugene O’Neill, Three Plays: “Mourning Becomes Electra,” “The Iceman Cometh,” “Long Day’s Journey into Night”: A Casebook. Basingstoke, England: Macmillan, 1989. A good introduction. Includes excerpts from O’Neill’s working diary, tracing the play’s development from inception to second galleys. Contains four reviews of the original production, and seven critical studies dealing with character, theme, and style.

Bogard, Travis. Contour in Time. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988. Provides detailed comparison between Mourning Becomes Electra and Euripides and Aeschylus, noting...

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