Eugene O’Neill started drafting his ideas for Mourning Becomes Electra as early as 1926, searching for a way to tell a distinctly American story of psychological drama and fate. Not until 1928 did he find his inspiration in the ancient Greek tragic structure of Aeschylus’ Oresteia (Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, The Eumenides) - the story of the downfall of the house of Atreus.

But this was not going to be a literal retelling of Electra’s story set against the American Civil War. O’Neill sought to not only investigate her psychology through the character of Lavinia Mannon, but to also

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