Themes and Important Topics: Theme Mourning Becomes Electra by O' Neil
Theme of Oedipus complex:
With "Oedipus Complex", Sigmund Freud originated the theory that children of ages up to 5 are sexually desirous of the parent of opposite gender. During this phase, the kids respond with a certain level of jealousy and rivalry. The Mannon family becomes subject to Oedipus complex when the selfish mother, Christine, fails to fulfil her motherly duties and the children are subject to certain psychological fixations leading to Oedipus complex or even Electra complex. Lavinia is the prime victim of this fixation whereas Orin is also no exception to this complex. Both of them suffer and ruin their lives under the influence of this complex.
Theme of Hatred:The whole family is ruined just because of the hatred of Christine towards her husband and then on its turn to her own children. Under such a deep emotion of hatred, she drives her daughter away from her. 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!"
Christine also admits that she is the wife of a man she badly hates. Christine blames Lavinia of play treachery on her own mother: "I've watched you ever since you were little, trying to do exactly what you're doing now! You've tried to become the wife of your father and the mother of Orin! You've always schemed to steal my place!".
Theme of Incest:"Mourning Becomes Electra" is a tale of incest and sexual encounters between different characters of the play with no regard to age or gender. Lavinia is having a sexual relationship with Adam while she is in a near incestuous relationship with her son Orin. On the other hand, Lavinia is seeking an incestuous relationship with her father and cannot allow her brother, Orin, to escape from under her influence over to Hazel.
Theme of War:
Lost under the overwhelming stories of incestuous love and jealousy, probably war is an important theme in the play. People consider war as a tale of pride and national integrity but the playwright has made fun of those thoughts criticizing the idea of war:
"Our folks at home take death so solemnly! You would have soon learned at the front that it's only a joke!"
To him war is a mockery of the very concept of human civilization:
"Let them batter each other's brains out with rifle butts and rip each other's guts with bayonets! After that, maybe they'd stop waving handkerchiefs and gabbing about heroes! "