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A Spiritual Ecological Study of Eugene O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra

Author LiuYiZuo
Tutor LiuYongJie
School Zhengzhou University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Eugene O’Neill Mourning Becomes Electra Ecocriticism Spiritual Ecology
Type Master's thesis
Year 2010
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Eugene O’Neill (1888-1953), as "Father of American drama", won Pulitzer Prizes four times and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1936. O’Neill has made great contributions to American drama and even to the world drama. Current researches on O’Neill and his plays have covered a wide range of aspects, but the ecological awareness in his plays hasn’t been adequately studied yet.This thesis, from an ecological perspective, analyzes the ecological concepts of O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra. Using the theories of Spiritual Ecology, this thesis sheds light on the characters’abnormal spiritual ecology and the causes for their spiritual abnormality, and points out the importance of rebuilding harmonious spiritual ecology.This thesis consists of Introduction, four chapters and Conclusion.Introduction is about the plots of Mourning Becomes Electra, and the literature review of this play both at home and abroad.Chapter One concentrates on the theories of Ecocriticism, especially Spiritual Ecology.Chapter Two focuses on the main characters’ spiritual ecology and analyzes the abnormality of their spiritual ecology. Lavinia, Orin, Brant, Ezra and Christine all suffer from the torture of their abnormal spiritual ecology. Lavinia’s Electra Complex, Orin’s Oedipus Complex, Brant’s revenge, Ezra’s puritan character and Christine’s dependence on men are all the reflections of their spiritual abnormality.Chapter Three further analyzes and illuminates the causes for the characters’ abnormal spiritual ecology. The external causes are Puritanism, the Civil War, the relationship between the family members and so on. The internal causes are mainly human beings’ infinite desire and twisted human temperament.Chapter Four points out the necessity of rebuilding harmonious spiritual ecology. The unbalanced spiritual ecology brings the characters endless torture and leads to their tragedy. While on the Island, spiritually balanced natives live a happy life. This sharp contrast, to a certain extent, shows O’Neill’s ecological ideas and the solution to the problems of spiritual abnormality. The basis is harmonious natural ecology, and what is more important is that human beings should dismiss excessive desires.The thesis draws a conclusion based on the above analysis:Mourning Becomes Electra provides us with the ecological notion and ecological thinking, which are very helpful for us especially in such a world where spiritual crises occur everywhere and human existence is worsening. Human beings should concern about their spiritual ecology and rebuild the harmonious spiritual ecology.

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