Essay title: The South Sea Islands
The carefree islands of the South Sea are a most desirable locale for a vacation or honeymoon. In the play Mourning Becomes Electra, by Eugene O’Neill, the islands are a place where sex is not seen as a sin and people live life freely, as nature intended people to do so. This play was written in a setting where such actions were frowned upon. It was also these islands where escaping to them with Christine Mannon, was a goal never achieved by two men, both who met a painful, vain death.
Orin Mannon and Captain Adam Brant fell to the femme fatale that was Christine Mannon. Both of them were sucked into the whirlpool of destruction as Christine sung her siren’s song, lulling them to come to her and escape to the South Sea Islands. It was also here where girls became women and complete freedom was found. Adam Brant wanted to take Christine and Lavinia to “The Blessed Isles.” He had previously been there before and had resided in the land where “the natives walked around naked.
” He remembers them vividly as he describes them to Lavinia.Lavinia: I your admiration for the naked native women. You said they had found the secret of happiness because they had never heard that love can be a sin.Brant: so you remember that, do you? Aye! And they lived in as near the Garden of Paradise before sin was discovered as you’ll fin on this earth! Unless you’ve seen it, you can’t picture the green beauty of their land set in the blue of the sea! The clouds like down on the mountaintops, the sun drowsing in your blood, and always the surf on the barrier reef singing a croon in your ears like a lullaby! The Blessed Isles I’d call them! You can forget there all men’s dirty dreams of greed and power (279)!Adam Brant speaks of these islands like a heaven that no one can go to and find bliss. He tells Lavinia that he wants to take her there, the isles where innocence can be found. However, these picturesque islands are the places he really wants to go with Christine, for Adam loves her. This messy love triangle only proves that getting to these islands of innocence are truly beyond the scope of morality.
“O'Neill re-employs in various forms the conventional image of exotic islands in order to gain a universally-conditioned response from his audience–escape from unpleasant reality–” (Ronald T. Curran Literature Resource Center). Curran defines the islands as the only innocent object in the play. It is the last normal thing left in the mess of the Mannons.
He only tells Lavinia of these islands to deter any suspicion of adultery between himself and her mother. Anthony S. Abbott wrote of the Mannon family all trying to find freedom through murder and sex but as he says two wrongs don’t make a right:Christine Mannon and Adam Brant try to break out of the repressive world of the Mannons through the life-giving freedom on sexuality. Sex in the Mannon household is associated with sin, and the only way that Christine and Adam can find to overcome this repressive attitude is to kill Ezra. But murder only begets murder, and all of the characters’ attempt to gain freedom and peace, to find “the Blessed Isles,” end in disaster (Abbott 55).These Islands becomes a form of escapism for Christine and Adam for she wants to go there after being caught red handed with Adam by Lavinia:Christine: Don’t talk like that! You have me, Adam! You have me! And we will be happy- once we’re safe on your Blessed Islands! It’s strange.
Orin was telling me of an island-Brant: Aye-the Blessed Isles- Maybe we can still find happiness and forget! I can see them now- so close- and a million miles away! The warm earth in the moonlight, the trade winds rustling the coco palms, the surf on the barrier reef singing a croon in your ears like a lullaby! Aye! There’s peace and forgetfulness for us there- if we can ever find those islands now (363)!Adam felt the foreboding sense of despair when he found out his attempt to murder Ezra, head of the Mannon house, had succeeded. However, Lavinia discovered the poison and sensed foul play in Ezra’s death. Christine also realized that Orin had wanted to take her to the islands as well. What would be the outcome if she did leave with Adam and Orin found out? Christine loved Brant as well as her son but she decided to be with the captain in the end. She wanted to forget the crime she had committed and wished to escape her inevitable punishment. Everyone in the play was looking for some form of escape through the South Sea Islands.
Horst Frenz also spoke of Lavinia and even though she seems to have the most dominant role in the play she too is looking for an escape, “Now Lavinia does not differ from the others in her attempt to escape.