Use Technique Of Symbolism In “Mourning Becomes Electra”. Symbolism can also be termed as a technique which most of the writers use in their literary works in order to clarify their viewpoints for the better understanding of the readers. A great symbolism not only enhances the appeal of the subject matter of any literary work or composition but also makes it a remarkable masterpiece of literature. Symbols are objects, characters, figures or colours which one writer uses to present abstract ideas or concepts.
As far as the matter of “Mourning Becomes Electra” is concerned, symbolism is very much evident in O’Neill’s technique of writing. It becomes one of the most salient features of O’Neill’s writings. No line can vividly and aptly be drawn between symbolism and his literary works. There are many scenes and happenings which have been symbolized in different ways. On one hand, they have one, meaning and on the other hand, they have double meaning. These different shades and meanings are called symbolism.
It is very worthy to note here that the costumes, dresses of outer appearances of the characters of this play always give different connotations. To simplify the statement of
“all the major male characters wear uniforms since the play begins on the day, the civil war ends”
which have different meaning and as we say that when Christine fell in love with Ezra, it is uttered: “he was handsome in his lietenant’s uniform”. Similarly, we see in a scene in which Orin returns from the war and looks like a hero in his blue uniform. Here, Lavinia is much impressed by his dresses and greets him warmly. But what we see later, proves to be contrary to our expectations. Orin doesnot prove to be brave when he commits suicide after murdering Adam.
By committing this act, it seems that his uniform is still “ill-fitting” and “baggy“, without the splendor of his father’s personality. Adam’s uniform sets him in the company of Mannon men. But one thing still remains evident here that still differs significantly from those of Ezra and Orin is that O’Neill has symbolically used his blue dress because his blue uniform reminds us of the colour of the sea. It is peaceful like the peacefulness of the sea. In the first glance, we judge from his first appearance when he appears without uniform and his foppish dress links him with Christine whose green Latin dress is smartly cut and becomes expensive. These are her plain and. severe costumes which show pagan qualities as opposed to the Mannon traditions.
Similarly, we also see and observe the same symbolic treatments in the costumes of other characters. Lavinia’s black dress has very beautifully and artistically been symbolized. Lavinia often wears black dresses and she always goes against Christine’s costume traditions. That’s why, Christine always celebrates the values which are opposite to the taste of her daughter. In the greater part of the trilogy, we see that Lavinia wears black dress which has several connotations in itself. It is only in those scenes in which Lavinia mourns her father and brother, her dress serves as common place reasons. In the first part of the play, an average reader is stunned by her choice of selecting the obsesses and her choice of costume testifies rather to her spiteful jealousy and hatred of Christine.
One of the most striking qualities or traits of her personality is shown in a scene in which she totally becomes father-fixated after knowing about the illegitimate love affair of Christine and Adam. She feels great disgust after knowing the faithlessness of her mother towards her father. This causes of a great change in her and she always starts doing those things or activities which are opposite to her mother’s taste.
Ultimately, we see that throughout the play, her black dress is linked with her father’s judicial robe which is always visualized in the portrait in his study. There is no doubt ini saying that her dress also serves as a denial of puritan life. It is black shade of her dress which also serves as morning becomes “Electra” . It seems now that her choice of wearing black costumes is itself her destiny. It is the only colour which stands out for her fate and destiny.
Pointing out the reason that why mourning becomes severe in Lavinia is simply this that she never ever wants to be born. It shows her intensive battle for her mother because she thinks that it is her mother who created a sorrowful and miserable life for her in this world. It becomes evident at the end of the play when she decides to spend the rest of her life inside the Mannon temple of “Hate and Death”.
Orin’s black costume has also been presented symbolically. In the third art or part, we see that he appears in black suit. His conscience is guilt ridden. He seems to follow the father-judge under the portrait of the forty-year old judge; he considers himself to be the judge of his whole family members, recording their crimes from the initial one of the grand-father down to his own and Lavinia’s.
One thing is very notable in the later part of the play: that Lavinia changes her mourning routine and wears a green velvet dress like her late mother. This very change itself brings sudden turn in her life because this very green dress or costume highlights her unconscious love for Adam. It means to say in other words that her charm, taste and love for taking rebirth in herself and she once again starts her life in a new shape and trend unlike her mother or brother.
To conclude this above mentioned discussion, we can say in the concluding remarks vehemently and forcefully that O’Neill presents the inner workings or inner operational activities of his characters through Use Technique Of Symbolism. His characters adopt themselves according to the current situations and happenings and wear those costumes and dresses which aptly and greatly suit to the demands of situations.
If any situation or happening demands black, green, white or blue dress, they wear this one and merge themselves with the true demands and requirements of a scenic happening or situation. The Fate also play its role along with all. It is rightly said that O’Neill’s characters also have other connotations and the designs and colours of the costumes in the play are aptly symbolic.