Lavinia Character in Mourning Becomes Electra:
A victim of Oedipus complex, Lavinia, is the protagonist in this play. She remains the centre of attention whether it is the time to rejoice or to be dejected at the loss of honour or life. She is always relevant to the characters and the story. But the author has pictured her as: "Lavinia is cold and calm as an icicle". The tragedy of the family of the Mannons may well be related as the tragedy of Lavinia because she has been assigned such an overwhelming role in the play that we seem to be moving about from her point of view throughout the three parts of the trilogy of "Mourning Becomes Electra".
We know of Lavinia extremely possessive for her father, General Ezra Mannon. She does not want any affiliation or relation except the one with him. She seems to have male relationship with her cousin Peter but for the sake of her father's love and affection she tells Peter that:
"I can't marry anyone, Peter. I've got to stay home. Father needs me"
Peter counters her "He's got your mother" and she "sharply" reacts: "He needs me more!" So, she must leave Peter as well as reject all proposals of marriage for want of her father's love. Had that been the affection of a daughter for her father, it would have been appreciated but the way she wants her father proves her to be a case of Oedipus complex.
Probably, Lavinia is the result of the maltreatment and ill-nourishment on the part of her mother. Lavinia "was born of" her mother's "disgust" of her father, the man she hated. Lavinia explains the horrors of her childhood "ever since I was little--when I used to come to you--with love--but you would always push me away! I've felt it ever since I can remember--your disgust!". Lavinia is also aware of the adulterous acts of her mother in New York with Adam. "I knew you hated me", says Christine to Lavinia but she doesn't know that there has been jealousy besides the deeds of adultery on Christine's part. Though Lavinia is in love with her father, yet she wants her mother to take care of him. She wants him to stop cheating on her father. But Christine can't because she is "the wife of a man" she "hated".
She has been jealous of her mother for in her presence she cannot enjoy the undivided love of her father. The first time the playwright describes the coming across of the mother and daughter is:
"For a moment, mother and daughter stare into each other's eyes. In their whole tense attitudes is clearly revealed the bitter antagonism between them".
The half loathsome and half tolerant attitude of Lavinia converts to full fledge hatred when Christine, her mother, has poisoned her father. Lavinia takes revenge and destroys her mother as well as her lover, Adam.
But later in the play, instead of recovering from the pains and mental stresses, she collapses into an abyss of mental torture and self-confinement from which even the love of Peter fails to bring her out. She resolves to leave all and remain within the bounds of the hellish Mannon building:
"And there's no one left to punish me. I'm the last Mannon. I've got to punish myself! Living alone here with the dead is a worse act of justice than death or prison! I'll never go out or see anyone!"