Lavinia: The Aristotelian Tragic Heroine in O’Neill’s


Eugene O’Neill’s “Mourning Becomes Electra” was patterned following Aeschylus’ The Orestes. In O’Neill’s version, Agamemnon is the American Standard Ezra Mannon, Clytemnestra is his 2nd spouse Christine, Orestes is his son Orin, and Electra is his daughter Lavinia. The participate in featured murder, adultery, incestuous really like and revenge. Though fate on your own guides characters’ actions in Greek tragedies, O’Neill’s people have motivations grounded in 1930s-period psychological idea as well. While the engage in can be examine from a Freudian point of view paying interest to numerous characters’ Oedipus complexes and Electra complexes, the characters may also be evaluated centered on Aristotle’s concept of a tragic character.

Aristotle’s ideas about tragedy have been recorded in his book of literary theory titled Poetics. In it, he has a excellent offer to say about the framework, intent, and meant impact of tragedy. His suggestions have been adopted, disputed, expanded, and talked about for numerous hundreds of years.
The subsequent is a summary of his basic strategies regarding the tragic hero:

1. The tragic hero is a character of noble stature and has greatness. This need to be commonly apparent in the engage in. The character have to occupy a “large” standing placement but need to also embody nobility and advantage as aspect of his/her innate character.

2. Although the tragic hero is pre-eminently good, he/she is not excellent so that the viewers can conveniently relate them selves with these kinds of character. Despite the fact that potentially elevated to a greater placement in modern society, the character need to be observed as somebody critical like that of the regular individual.

3. The hero’s downfall is partially her/his individual fault, the end result of free option, not of accident or villainy or some overriding, malignant fate. In actuality, the tragedy is normally triggered by some mistake of judgment or some character flaw that contributes to the hero’s absence of perfection. This mistake of judgment or character flaw is recognized as hamartia and is usually translated as tragic flaw.

4. The hero’s misfortune is not wholly deserved. The punishment exceeds the criminal offense.

5. The drop is not pure loss. It could carry about maximize in recognition, gain in self-awareness, and discovery on the element of the tragic hero.

Eugene O’Neill’s Mourning Results in being Electra: A Summary

Ezra Mannon is among the the well known figures in the town. He experienced served as a judge, a mayor and, most just lately, as a person of Grant’s generals in the Civil War. He has a terrible coronary heart and a hard time expressing like. His wife, Christine Mannon, was an adulterous female who has stopped loving him appropriate from the beginning of their married life.

Lavinia Mannon is the loving daughter who hated her mother and adored her father. Even though Orin Mannon, Lavinia’s weak-willed brother, hated his father and adored his mom.

The other people of the play include Adam Brant is the illegitimate son of Ezra’s uncle by a servant. He is captain of a ship in the service provider marine and experienced an illicit affair with Christine. Peter is Orin’s childhood mate and Lavinia’s fiancé. Helen, Peter’s sister, is Lavinia’s childhood buddy and Orin’s fiancée.

The curse on the property of Mannon, a popular New England loved ones, goes again a generation to Ezra Mannon’s father Abe and Uncle Ben. Ben was kicked out of the family when he impregnated a French Canadian servant named Marie Brantône. A gambler and a drunkard, inevitably he killed himself. Marie requested Ezra, now head of the loved ones, to help her but he ignored her, and she died. Thus her son, Adam Brant, had an comprehensible grudge towards Ezra. When Ezra and his son Orin are off fighting in the Civil War, Adam Brant launched himself to the household as a suitor to Lavinia. The handsome captain ended up seducing Christine.

The war has ended and Ezra Mannon was on his way home. His wife Christine and his daughter Lavinia have been both waiting around for him. Even though Lavinia was thrilled to see him, Christine was not. She hardly ever beloved Ezra, and possessing at last experienced like with Adam, she imagined that she cannot endure Ezra’s contact anymore. At the evening of Ezra’s return, Christine gave him poison in its place of his coronary heart medicine but before he dies, Ezra was capable to convey to Lavinia about what Christine and Adam experienced performed.

A several times later, Orin returned property from the war. Nonetheless in a shock because of to his father’s demise, Orin has grow to be the battleground concerning Lavinia and Christine. Finally, Lavinia experienced persuaded Orin to go with her in following Christine who went to Adam’s ship. The two spied on Christine and Adam. Orin was overwhelmed with jealousy when he observed his mother, whom he loved so passionately, cavorting with Adam. Christine and Adam experienced then planned to flee but suitable after Christine has remaining to get her things, Orin killed Adam. When Orin advised Christine about what he did to Adam, she shot herself.

Immediately after that incident, Lavinia and Orin traveled to the South Seas for a 12 months. When they returned household, their friends Peter and Helen located them reworked. Lavinia experienced turn into a spitting graphic of her mom, and Orin, on the other hand, turned a disintegrated person. Orin wrote a letter outlining the sad history of his relatives and threatened Lavinia that he will give it to Peter if she tries to marry him. Lavinia protested and for that, Orin experimented with to molest her. Lavinia was ready to absolutely free herself. At the onset, Orin fully commited suicide.

With what had transpired, Peter came to Lavinia to comfort her only to be told that she, certainly, experienced beloved Adam Brant. In the finish, Lavinia ignored Peter and had, as an alternative, embraced a lonely destiny by shutting herself up in the property of the Mannon.

The Mourning of Lavinia

The tragic nature of O’Neill’s engage in has turn out to be the foundation of this paper in establishing the floor that Lavinia, who is the key character in the story, is an exemplification of Aristotle’s notion of a tragic character.

1. Lavinia is a character of noble stature and has greatness.
Nevertheless the principle of nobility has been extremely much noticed in the previously many years, Lavinia’s stature of being a member of a distinguished spouse and children in the neighborhood suffices for Aristotle’s notion of nobility. Apart from that, Lavinia’s greatness as a character has been manifested by the simple fact that she experienced adhered to what is moral and righteous. In understanding that her mom had an illicit affair with Adam, she experienced fixed to crack the affair. Moreover, although she, herself has also been captivated to Adam, she tried using to suppress her thoughts for him. She has not succumbed to his felicitations and enticements which, in turn, brought about Adam to shift his focus to the enjoy-starved Cynthia.

2. Although Lavinia may perhaps be pre-eminently good, she was not perfect so that the viewers can simply relate on their own with her.

Despite the fact that perhaps elevated to a increased placement in the modern society, Lavinia can also be witnessed as somebody who is effectively the very same as that of a ordinary person. Her attachment to Peter as a suitor and lover, her manifestation of grief at the dying of her father, her expression of hatred for mother because of to her infidelity, and her act of trying to get revenge for her father constitute the normal response of a human being when faced with the similar scenario as she experienced. These kinds of behavioral manifestations run from the strategy of a excellent character as viewed from a Christian perspective.

3. Lavinia’s downfall is partly her individual fault, the result of free option, not of accident or villainy or some overriding, malignant destiny.

Lavinia might not have died in the story but her conclusion of self-seclusion can be taken as her downfall. Such downfall has been triggered by some mistake of judgment on her section. Right after the demise of Orin, she could have had a new and redeemed daily life at the arms of Peter still, she experienced squandered the probability when she admitted to him that she, indeed, had liked Adam – a revelation that experienced damage Peter. Lavinia could have just stored such inner thoughts to herself for it does not have any bearing any longer given that Adam is by now lifeless. It was, then, her inadequate judgment that brought on her to specific these a agonizing revelation which at some point led to her downfall.

4. Lavinia’s misfortune is not wholly deserved. The punishment exceeds the mistake committed.

Lavinia, the loving and respectful daughter, can be regarded as as a sufferer of situations. She could have acquired redemption by means of Peter but other elements had meddled leading to her to give up her personal contentment. Her resolution of self-seclusion by locking herself inside the Mannon residence to atone for the sins of her loved ones could be regarded as much too harsh for her.

5. Lavinia’s atonement is not pure decline – there is an maximize in awareness, a achieve in self-understanding, and a discovery on her section.

Lavinia could have just determined to depart and flee in buy to start off a new lifestyle but she opted to remain. In her decision, she has displayed a feeling of epiphany and renewal. Fleeing will not essentially help her to escape the guilt and the haunting of her past. Her act of self-sacrifice has enabled her to put a halt to the curse to the spouse and children therefore ending the series of misfortunes that has befallen on the spouse and children. This act has elevated her to the purpose of a sacrificial lamb building her the religious savior of the family members from ethical decay and degradation.


However diversified feelings were being aroused, the dharacter of Lavinia does not go away its viewers – or viewers – in a point out of depression. Aristotle (Leitch 2001) argues that 1 perform of tragedy is to arouse the “unhealthy” thoughts of pity and concern and via a catharsis. Mainly, by way of Lavinia and her fate, everybody is cleansed of those emotions.

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