Review of Book The Hairy Ape by Eugene O’Neill



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Book Title : The Hairy Ape
Author : Eugene O’Neill
LoC Class : Language and Literatures: American and Canadian literature
Subject : Social classes — Drama, New York (N.Y.) — Drama, Unskilled labor — Drama
Language English

 

Review of the book The Hairy Ape by Eugene O’Neill

The Hairy Ape is a 1922 expressionist play by American playwright Eugene O’Neill. It is about a beastly, unthinking laborer known as Yank, the protagonist of the play, as he searches for a sense of belonging in a world controlled by the rich. At first, Yank feels secure as he stokes the engines of an ocean liner, and is highly confident in his physical power over the ship’s engines and his men.

However, when the rich daughter of an industrialist in the steel business refers to him as a “filthy beast”, Yank undergoes a crisis of identity and so starts his mental and physical deterioration. He leaves the ship and wanders into Manhattan, only to find he does not belong anywhere—neither with the socialites on Fifth Avenue, nor with the labor organizers on the waterfront. In a fight for social belonging, Yank’s mental state disintegrates into animalistic, and in the end he is defeated by an ape in which Yank’s character has been reflected. The Hairy Ape is a portrayal of the impact industrialization and social class has on the dynamic character Yank.

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Review of the book The Hairy Ape by Eugene O’Neill by actual readers:

Hairy-Ape is a terrific drama narrating a story of a defiant Yank whose hubris and bellicose attitude constitute a thin end of the wedge and consequent demise. The story is simultaneously historic and universal since the protagonist stands in my opinion for every-man with one’s existential dilemmas and foibles. The tragedy of a soul that struggles to be self-reliant and defiant to one and all and who cannot deal with life’s surprises because of terrible misapprehensions speaks to me in many ways than one. The ending is terrific and indelible. The play is a classic as far as I’m concerned.

SUPER WONDERFUL! hilarious, bitter. An expressionist play about the working class man and how dehumanised and demonised he is in a post industrial world. The hyperbolic nature of expressionist theatre couldn’t be more of a perfect form to communicate this specific subject matter.

I absolutely adore Eugene O’Neill. The cynical message of this 1922 dramatic work rings true of its time–the working class, part of the machine that runs society, will eventually fall victim to that very machine.

This was seriously good. I found Yank’s manner of speech a bit off putting initially as it’s a specific dialect but realised it was essential to his character. It was heartbreaking though, the way he wants to belong and is not accepted by either humans or animals or at least that’s how he feels. Also discusses class division and its ramifications on individual’s psyche and satirises upper class morality

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