December 15th, 2013
A Modern Tragedy – The Hairy Ape by Eugene O’Neill
Inside Eugene O’Neill’s “The Hairy Ape” the main character, Yank, embodies the beleaguered working class of a capitalist culture. As Mr. O’Neill’s was understood to be a zealous socialist himself believing that a society should and can work together, as a whole, towards a better world; the reader of “the Hairy Ape” can see and understand his views. Eugene O'Neill's supreme creation “The Hairy Ape” has the drama necessary to relay the all-encompassing vision from the writer. The tantalizing conflicts within Yank are conveyed expertly through stage direction masterfully executed so that we the purveyor of this play can see dreadful and disaffected condition that effects the major masses of a capitalist society. We are allowed to share in Yanks journey to understand his place in the cogs of the gigantic machinery of life, only for all to come to a rather tragic end. The expansive stage direction that O’Neill uses in an ingenious method that allows the crew and actors to further make the watcher understand and believe in the message of the play. We can sense this by the writer’s reference to the makeup in the first portion of scene five: “Their faces and bodies shine from soap-and-water scrubbing, but around their eyes, where a hasty dousing does not touch, the coal dust sticks like black makeup, giving them a queer, sinister expression” (192) being portrayed. Having no classic hero to speak of, The Hairy Ape could be considered a modern day tragedy. The play gives the reader Yank who embodies the definition of the antihero. Yank (whose real name is Bob Smith) is just a regular Joe. He’s not a scholar but instead he is a stoker in a ship, a very laborious job with little mental rewards. He’s a beastly, menacing coarse man whom works long hours for probably what is next to little pay. Although it may seem that Yanks job is below most socialist in his community he takes...
Cited: O’Neill, Eugene. American Literature Since the Civil War. Create edition. McGraw-Hill, 2011. 176-209. e-Book.
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