Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Outline Story of Mourning Becomes Electra

Waiting For Ezra
Christine and Lavinia, the wife and daughter respectively of Brigadier-General Ezra Mannon, are waiting for the old man who is to come home after the surrender of Lee during the American Civil War.
Through Seth, the gardener of the Mannons, it is learnt that the townspeople gossip about the illicit relationship between Christine and one Captain Adam Brant. Lavinia also doubts the integrity of her mother’s character ; owing to this fact she has chased her mother to New York where Christine had gone to meet her lover on the pretext of seeing her ailing father. Lavinia loves one Captain Peter Niles, and his sister, Hazel, loves Lavinia’s brother, Orin Mannon. Peter and Hazel come and inquire about Orin who has not sent any letter to them since long. Peter anxiously asks Lavinia whether Orin really loves Hazel but Lavinia is so disgusted with Christine’s affairs with Adam that she says that she hates love. She also says to Peter that she cannot marry him because her father needs her more. About .Adam she says that he behaved with her romantically but she did not pay much attention to him.
About Adam
After the departure of Peter and Hazel Christine informs Lavinia that Adam is to come here. On Lavinia’s insistence Christine agrees that she will talk about him to Lavinia after his departure. Then comes the gardener who tells a lot about Adam who, he says, resembles her father, brother and grandfather. Lavinia recalls the story of David, the brother of her grandfather, who loved a Canadian nurse named Marie Brantome and married her because she was going to have a baby. Her grandfather, Abe Mannon, drove them out and demolished the house and built a new one. The child born to the nurse was Adam.
Lavinia Rejects Adam
Adam comes and appears to be malting love to Lavinia as he has been advised by Christine to do, so that the girl cannot doubt Christine’s relations with him. But Lavinia is enraged by the romantic gesture of Adam and says that it would be foolish to expect anything but romantic lies from the son of a low woman. This infuriates Adam who says that no Mannon can insult his mother until he is alive. Lavinia succeeds in confirming the parentage of Adam. Adam tells her the sad tale of his father and mother after they were driven by Abe and the cruelty of the old man who refused to give any financial help to Marie. David committed suicide and Marie was swallowed by poverty. When she was dead Adam swore to revenge her death on Ezra.
Adam Resembles Ezra
Lavinia is looking at the portrait of her father hanging on the wall of his study. There is a startling likeness between him and Adam. Christine comes and Lavinia tells her about her visit to Adam which she denies but when Lavinia says that she saw her kissing Adam in New York, Christine admits everything. She explains how and why she loves Adam. Before their marriage Christine felt enamoured of Ezra but very soon she found him disgusting. She also tells Lavinia that she has always felt that Lavinia was born of her father and Orin was only her child. But after Orin’s joining the army she had none to love for many years and when she met Adam she saw that he loved her. Lavinia tells her that the feigned love of Adam has a malicious design of taking the revenge of his mother on Ezra but Christine does not care for it. Then Lavinia warns Christine that Ezra would disown her publicly. She forces her mother to agree to her proposal that she will not see Adam and will remain a dutiful wife and only then Lavinia will not disclose this matter to her father. Christine says that Lavinia is sparing her not only for the sake of keeping the family safe from scandal but because she herself once wanted Adam. She warns Lavinia that if she discloses the former’s relations with Adam she will go away with her lover. She also complains that Lavinia has always been trying to steal her place. However, the mother and daughter decide that Christine will dismiss Adam who is waiting for her and will never see him again. Relations between Adam and Christine exchange with each other what they have talked about to Lavinia. Then Adam asks whether Christine loved him because his face resembled Ezra’s. Christine replies that she loved him because it was Orin Adam made her think of Adam tells her that when he heard that she was the wife of Ezra, he hated her for being Ezra’s. He thought he would take her from Ezra and that would be part of his revenge. Then they plan to kill Ezra. They decide that Adam will send her a poisonous drug which she will give her husband when he will ask her his medicine for his heart trouble. The cannon at the fort keep booming, and Adam goes away. Christine comes in the room and closes the door behind her.
The Tangled Love Affairs
A week later Lavinia elicits from Seth further information about Adam’s mother : she was frisky and full of life ; she was a pretty women whose hair was like Lavinia’s mother’s. Seth. also tells her that even her father was infatuated in love with Marief Christine comes and Seth goes away. She is dressed in a gown os green velvet and her face resembles Lavinia’s. She sarcastically sayf to Lavinia that a puritan maiden should not enjoy the beauty of nature and harbour a feeling of love Then comes Ezra Mannon who is received by his wife and daughter in their own ways. He­talks a lot about the problem of defeat and victory and death and narrates how Orin was wounded in the head and got brain fever. Orin acted as if he were a boy and always remembered his mother. He warns Christine not to baby Orin anymore. When Lavinia asks about his heart trouble he tells her that it is not a serious disease, though his doctor has advised him to avoid worry, overexertion and excitement. Ezra asks Christine about Adam’s rumour to which she says that it is Lavinia who loves the Captain. Further, she complains to Ezra that since he came home she has felt he has been suspecting her. Ezra drops this topic by commenting, that it was foolish on her part to encourage Adam and give the gossips a chance ­to be malicious. However, Ezra regrets to have been rude to her and begins to kiss and caress her but Christine behaves coldly and indifferently. He complains that since their marriage she had been cold towards him. He starts reflecting upon his experience of life and death when he was on the front. He also recalls how he joined the army: instead of her love he got her hate which drove him to the Mexican War. When he came back home Orin was born to whom Christine turned and so Ezra turned to Lavinia but because Lavinia could not replace. Christine, he sought to engage himself in many pursuits. He became a judge and then a mayor. Now, he says, he has come to surrender to Christine whatsoever there is within him.
Ezra’s Uneasiness and Death
Ezra and Christine do not feel sleepy. Christine slinks out of the bed but Ezra calls her back and requests her not to leave him alone. He suddenly says that he is feeling strange, some sort of uneasiness troubling his mind, as if he were afraid Christine is waiting for something for death to set her free. This angers Christine who says that Ezra always considered her to be his property. But Ezra reacts bitterly and says that he did not marry her body. Christine’s ­agony is that though before marriage she loved him, yet it was he who later on, filled her heart with disgust. She also tells him how she fell in love with Adam. All this shocks Ezra who asks for his medicine and, getting an opportunity of playing her foul game, Christine brings a box containing poisonous pellets and administers one on him. Before his death Ezra calls Lavinia and cries out “She is guilty––not_ medicine.” Lavinia interrogates Christine about his ­last words but the latter faints and Lavinia finds the box lying near­ her body. She doubts that Christine has poisoned Ezra.
Waiting For Orin
Two days have passed since the death of Ezra. Christine is broken down and Lavinia is cold and calm as an icicle. Christine, who is waiting for Orin, warns Hazel to be cautious of Lavinia who will do everything to keep Orin from marrying her. She is doing so for the purpose of keeping Orin away from the influence of Lavinia who, she fears, will, disclose the Adam affairs. After a while Orin, Peter, and Lavinia come. Orin’s face resembles Ezra’s and Adam’s. Orin is still visited by the memories of murders at the battlefield ; the house looks to him to be strange, ghostly and dead: He recalls to Lavinia his experience of war and the image of his father as an armyman––he was war to Orin, the war that would never end until Orin died. Lavinia warns him not to be under their mother’s thumb. Christine comes and, seeing Lavinia staring at her, she says that she has been a good wife until she met Adam, and that she would have remained faithful to Ezra if he had been alive. She fears Lavinia doubts that she is still having relations with Adam. She asks Lavinia whether she knows the whereabouts of a box of medicine she has missed, a medicine that she takes to put her to sleep. Lavinia is all the time silent. Orin calls Christine and she shuts the door behind her.
ACT 11
Haunting Memories
Orin’s mind is still occupied with his father’s memory. He feels as if Ezra were alive, though he finds everything in the house changed. He talks about his trip which was not a pleasant one because he suffered from headache. However, he is happy that he is back home and that he wilt live with his mother whom he finds more beautiful than before. Orin asks her why she wants to marry him off to Hazel and get rid of him. He puts another alarming question as to who is Adam Brant who has been calling on her. She tells a lie that the Captain has been visiting Lavinia. She poisons Orin against his father also. She says that Ezra hated Orin because she loved her son better than anything in the world. Orin is now under her influence––he says that he does feel sorry at his father’s death. About Lavinia she tells him that since the death of Ezra she has started talking queer things––she says so for fear of Orin’s believing Lavinia’s statement about the Adam affairs. She also expresses her fear that Lavinia would accuse her of murdering Ezra and that she would report the matter to the police. So she implores Orin not to let Lavinia do all this and save his mother from disgrace. Orin assures her that Lavinia won’t try to turn him against her and that he would not allow Lavinia to go to the police––he will do so for the sake of saving all of them from untoward situations. He also assures that he will forgive anything in her except the Adam scandal. The last words of Orin terrify her.
South Sea Islands
Then Orin changes the topic and starts discussing his trip to the South Sea Islands. Referring to the book ‘Typee’ he says that when he was out of his mind, he felt he was in the midst of the beauties of nature on the Islands and that his mother was also with him––she was the Island itself. He promises her that he will never leave her nor will he marry Hazel or any other girl because Christine is his “only girl”. Christine says that she still considers him to be her “boy”. Orin tells her plan to marry Lavinia to Peter and then live with his mother happily. Lavinia calls him to see the dead body of Ezra and he hurries past her much against his wish and closes the door behind him. Christine tells Lavinia that she has already told Orin the whole of the Adam affair. She threatens that if Lavinia speaks anything about the Adam affair, she will tell the whole world that Lavinia desired her mother’s lover and then tried to get her mother hanged out of hatred and jealousy. She says to Lavinia that Orin loves his mother and that he is glad that his father is dead and even if he comes to know that she has murdered Ezra, he will protect her. But the next moment she is seized by a hysterical terror and requests Lavinia not to tell Orin anything about Adam because she fears he will kill the Captain. Lavinia does not say anything––she walks out of the room, and Christine collapses and exclaims that she will have to warn Adam against Orin.
Death Becomes the Mannons
Orin is standing by the head of the bier of his dead father. He stares at the face of his father and says that death becomes the Mannons, that Ezra was always like a statue of an eminent man, that he never cared to know Orin in life––perhaps they might be friends now when Ezra is dead. Lavinia is shocked to hear these words of Orin. Orin also feels guilty and resentful and starts talking. about his experience of war : war meant to him murdering the same man over and over and in the end discovering that the man was he himself. Their faces keep coming back in his dreams and they change to Ezra’s or Orin’s face. The war is over but the war inside them who killed has not ended. Meanwhile he is assailed by Lavinia’s charge against Christine and chides Lavinia for harboring evil thoughts against Christine. Lavinia insists on her stand and expresses her desire to go to the police to pursue the matter if Orin does not punish Christine. Orin demands proof and Lavinia gives the box which he puts in his coat pocket and says that his mother is much more dear to him than his father. Lavinia says that Christine plotted in collaboration with Adam to kill their father and that she herself saw Christine kissing Adam. She also tells him that Christine will surely go to Adam and then they should follow her and verify the truth. She executes another plan also : she takes the box from Orin’s pocket and puts it conspicuously on the body of Ezra. When Christine comes and sees the box she screams and stares at it with guilty fear. To Orin everything is clear now. He regrets to have come home in search of peace because he has lost the dream of his Island of peace that was his mother. Christine appeals to Orin to stop Lavinia from harming Adam and confesses that it is only she who is guilty. She rushes to the door and goes out.
Orin Shoots Adam
Christine meets Adam on his ship in East Boston and tells him that Lavinia has come to know about their murdering Ezra. She warns Adam of the danger to his life from Orin. He takes her to the cabin and Orin and Lavinia come along the deck. In the, cabin Christine tells Adam how Ezra, before his death, pointed at her and said that she was guilty and how Lavinia detected everything. Adam is sorry that it was not a proper revenge he had sworn on his mother’s dead body; he ought to have fought with Ezra as two men fight for a woman. Christine advises Adam to run away somewhere and save his life. They decide to run away to Adam’s Islands of peace and happiness. Lavinia is satisfied to show proper proof to Orin who is bewildered to see his mother asking Adam to kiss her and dreaming of going to his Islands with Adam. A few minutes later Adam appears in the doorway and stands inside it. Orin steps through the door and shoots Adam dead. He smashes open everything in the stateroom so as to make it look as if thieves have killed Adam and turns Adam’s pockets inside out and puts all the things he finds in it in his own with a plan to throw them in the sea later on. When Orin looks at the face of Adam which resembles his, he feels that he has killed himself. He says to Lavinia that if he had been in the place of Adam he would have also done what Adam did.
Christine Shoots Herself
Christine, Orin and Lavinia have come back home from Boston. Orin tells Christine that he and Lavinia followed her to Boston and saw what she said to Adam and to her great shock, he tells her that he has killed Adam. Christine does not believe him and says that he is saying all this just for the sake of punishing her. She reminds him of his promise to protect her but he is full of rancour: he can­not tolerate his mother’s loving a “servant’s bastard: her planning to go with Adam to the Islands of peace of his dream tortures him. Yet he requests Christine to forget Adam and, try to live happily with her son. To Lavinia all this proves that Orin is again becoming Christine’s crybaby for which she reprimands him and commands him to march away from there. Orin mechanically enters into the house and Lavinia says to Christine that Adam has paid the just penalty for his crime. Lavinia consoles her by saying that even after, the death of Adam she can live happily but Christine stares as if it were the last insult. She rushes into the house and Lavinia makes a movement to follow her but she turns her back on the house and instantly is heard the sound of pistol shot––Christine has shot herself with Ezra’s pistol. When Orin sees her dead body he feels that he has driven her to death ; he is sorry that she could not forgive him and repents of having boasted of killing Adam. Lavinia tries to calm him but he tears’ her hand away and regrets not to have let Christine believe that burglars killed Adam. Now he feels that he himself has murdered her, he breaks and weeps and says that he will go to find her, and seek her forgiveness. Lavinia again tries to console him and says that she loves him and she will help him to forget their mother. Orin goes back into the house and Lavinia sends Seth to call for Doctor Blake and tells him about the suicide of Christine. She follows Orin into the house.
Orin and Lavinia Resemble Their Father and Mother
A year has passed. The Mannon house is unoccupied, though according to popular belief it is haunted by the ghosts of Christine and Ezra. Orin and Lavinia who had gone to China have landed in New York and are awaited here. Orin and Lavinia come––Lavinia resembles her mother and Orin his father in every respect. Orin’s face is haggard and swarthy and is set in a blank lifeless expression. Lavinia is behaving with him like his mother and so she is very happy. Orin keeps his eye averted from the house, therefore Lavinia asks why he is doing so. She takes him towards the house and he walks like an automaton. When they reach the place where he had seen Christine lastly, he is haunted by her memory but Lavinia commandingly urges him to forget all that is past. He walks with her woodenly and they pass into the house.
Haunted By Ghosts
The ghosts of the dead Mannons haunt Lavinia : looking at the portraits of the Mannons she says, “Why do you look at me like that? I have done my duty by you !” Finding that Orin is not behind her, she calls him. He appears in the doorway. He tells her that he has been in the study because he felt his mother would be waiting for him there but he could not find her and on the other hand the ghosts of the dead Mannons are everywhere. He is sorry that he will not find Christine anymore to forgive him. Then with a resentful defiance in his voice he says that it does not matter if his mother is not with him ; he says that he is not Christine’s son, that he is his father’s son, a Mannon. To Lavinia he says that she is all in the world he has. Lavinia suggests that with the help of the love and friendship of Peter and Hazel their life would be happy. The mere mention of the word ‘love’ tortures Orin. “What right have I––or you––to love ?”, he says. He further says that after the death, of Christine Lavinia has become akin to their mother, a, if Lavinia were stealing Christine’s soul. Lavinia is worried over Orin’s morbid spells and so she tries to convince him that Christine was an adulteress and murderess whom law ought to have punished but they protected her and if she killed herself, Orin was not responsible for her death. Orin temporarily seems to be impressed by Lavinia’s arguments. Then comes Peter who talks to Lavinia romantically for a while. Orin says to Peter that the Islands he and Lavinia visited proved to be Lavinia’s only because she enjoyed the company of the natives there who sang and danced naked and all this disgusted him. Lavinia despatches Orin t o Hazel and talks to Peter. They decide to marry soon and keep Orin with them. Lavinia apprises Peter of Orin’s morbid spells particularly of his feeling of being responsible for the death of Christine and of the horror of war. She is lost in the memories of her. pleasant experience of the Islands and says to Peter that she has learnt the blessings of love. She advises Peter to tell Hazel about the spiritual condition of Orin so that she may not feel scared by his queer behaviour. Orin comes and stares at them with jealous rage, and congratulates them and says that he is glad that they are happy. Lavinia stares at Orin with eyes full of dread.
Orin Writes
Within a month Orin has aged so much that he looks as, old now as his father in the portrait. He has locked himself in his father’s study and is writing something. Lavinia comes and he hides the paper he has been writing on and tells her that he has been reading the law of crime and punishment. Even when it is day, he has lighted lamp because, he says, he hates daylight which he finds to be like an accusing eye ; he feels that perpetual night is the fitting habitat for the guilt which he has committed ; he considers that artificial light is more appropriate for his work ; it is a symbol of his life––a lamp burning out in a room of waiting shadows. He says to Lavinia that when he sees in Hazel’s eyes love for a murderer he feels like confessing his guilt. He advises he; also to confess her guilt. Lavinia then starts feeling that Orin is becoming her guilty conscience too. Orin does not find any difference between Christine and Lavinia because like his mother, Lavinia is also planning to desert him and marry Peter. But, he says, Lavinia cannot do so if she knows what he is writing––the history of the crimes of the Mannons right from Abe Mannon. He has written mostly about Lavinia because she possesses all the traits of the Mannons. He accuses Lavinia of having fancy for Wilson, a ship officer, Adam, and Avahanni, a native on the Island they have visited recently. When he does not stop talking about her lustful relations with Avahanni, she falsely says that she loved the native. But this also angers him and then she tells him that she has told him a lie. Then he says that if he had come to know about her relations with the native he would have killed her. He warns her that she should never try to leave him and marry Peter and tells her that he is going to put this confession he has written in safe hands to be read in case she tries to marry Peter. Lavinia feels tortured by these feelings of Orin. She breaks down and sobs brokenly ; he forbids her to cry and asks her to leave him alone so that he may finish his work. Lavinia goes out and Orin pulls out his manuscript and takes up his pen.
Lavinia’s Obsessions
Lavinia is also obsessed with the image of death, though she is still worried about the condition of Orin. Peter and Hazel come. Hazel wants to take Orin with her to her house with the permission of her mother because she thinks that Lavinia has locked him within the house and does not want to spare him from her possession. Peter also assents to her proposal because he thinks that tilt Orin and Lavinia are tied together he won’t be able to marry Lavinia. Peter goes to attend the meeting of the Council and then Orin comes forward ; he gives Hazel a sealed envelope with the instruction that it should not be opened until something happens to him or to Lavinia or Lavinia tries to marry Peter. In the latter case Hazel should make Peter read the contents of the envelope the day before the wedding. He also says that Lavinia should not be allowed to be happy and she should be punished. To Hazel he says that she must not love him anymore. Hazel tells him that Lavinia has told her the whole story of his quarrel with Christine and her committing suicide and his feeling that he drove her to death. Now Orin requests Hazel to take him away from here, to which she agrees. But Lavinia does not allow him to go out and criticizes Hazel to interfere with their family affairs. She notices that Hazel is hiding something behind her about which Orin tells her that it contains those papers on which he has been working. She commands Hazel to return them to her which she does not. Lavinia implores Orin to get the envelope back from Hazel and promises that if he does so she can do anything he likes her to. Orin accedes to her request and Hazel starts to leave them with a feeling of disappointment. Orin tells her that the Orin she loved was killed in the war.
Orin’s Suicide
To Lavinia Orin says that her promise means that she should not see Peter and give him up forever. He says that on occasions Lavinia seems to be Marie Brantome. He again harps on the need of their atonement for their crime. Lavinia says that they have not committed any crime and that whatever has happened is only justice: Orin goes near the portraits and says, as if addressing them, that Lavinia is harder to break than him and that their ghosts will have to haunt and hound her for a lifetime. Lavinia bursts out in frantic rage and hatred––she says that she hates him and wishes he were dead. Then Orin says that she wants to drive him to death. After a few minutes Peter comes and Orin goes to the study saying that he is going to clean his pistol. Lavinia says to Peter that she cannot wait any longer and requests him to marry her soon. In the meantime they hear a muted shot from the study––Orin has shot himself. Lavinia sags weakly and utters in a faint voice, “Orin, forgive me.” She hides the envelope in the drawer of the table and looking at the portraits, says, “Why do you look at me like that ? Wasn’t it the only way, to keep your secret, too ?” She marches stiffly from the room.
Lavinia Waits For Peter
On the day of Orin’s funeral Lavinia gets every room of the Mannon house decorated with flowers for welcoming Peter. While she is waiting for Peter, Hazel comes and tells her that it is not true that Orin killed himself by accident but that Lavinia drove him to commit suicide. She says that she will not allow Lavinia to marry Peter because they will never be able to live a happy, conjugal life. She holds Lavinia responsible for Peter’s quarrelling with his another and sister. At this Lavinia gets angry and threatens Hazel to kill her if she does not leave her alone. Before leaving the Mannon house Hazel says that she as already told Peter about Orin’s envelope and makes an appeal to Lavinia’s conscience and expresses her hope that the latter will do what she will consider right. Hazel goes away and Peter comes. They decide to marry soon and leave this house forever.
Lavinia’s Self-Imprisonment
Lavinia feels that Peter’s eyes are suspicious of life ; she asks whether he is thinking about what Peter wrote that day. However, Peter assures her that he did not believe what Peter talked about because the latter was out of his mind. Now Lavinia proposes to marry the same evening but Peter refuses because it does not look “right” to him to marry on the day of Orin’s funeral. Moreover, he grows suspicious of her impatience and asks her if there was anything what Orin wrote that would stop them from marrying. Lavinia’s psychic injury becomes acute––with a wild laugh she says, “The dead coming between.” She implores Peter to love her with faith and trust. Peter grows more suspicious ; he says perhaps there was something mysterious in the envelope. Lavinia says there was nothing so as he suspects and throws her arms, around him and says words of love. While she is absorbed in her romantic fascination and love for the man in her arms, she utters, “Want me ! Take me. Adam.” But she instantly becomes conscious of the name that has slipped from her tongue and feels that she is not worthy, of love––­she tells Peter that she cannot marry him. Peter also doubts whether what Orin said about her affairs with Avahanni was true and to his discomfiture she lies to him that Orin was right, Peter is now confident that Orin, Hazel and her mother were right about their estimate of Lavinia’s character. He hurries blindly off and Lavinia watches him go ; then she desperately cries after him, “Peter, It’s a lie. I didn’t ––!” But it is too late––Peter is gone. Then she turns, as if she would enter the house, and Seth forbids her to go in but she grimly says that she is not going the way her mother and Orin went because they escaped punishment whereas there being none to punish her, she will punish herself by living alone with the dead. She announces that she will never go out and orders Seth to close the shutters and nail them tight and tell Hannah to throw out all the flowers. She ascends to the portico––and then turns and stands for a while, staring into the sunlight. Seth pulls the shutters closed and Lavinia pivots sharply on her heel and marches woodenly into the house, closing the door behind her.

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