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The Hairy Ape

Eugene O'Neill


Key Facts

Key Facts

full title · The Hairy Ape

author · Eugene O'Neill

type of work · Play

genre · Early Expressionist

language · English

time and place written · Early 1920s, United States

date of first publication · 1922

publisher · Library of America

narrator · Not applicable (drama)

point of view · Not applicable (drama)

tone · O'Neill is sympathetic to the plight of the modern industrial worker, victimized and enslaved by social class, but does not imagine a new class system within the work.

tense · Not applicable (drama)

setting (time) · Early 1920s

setting (place) · 

aboard a transatlantic liner headed to europe and new york city. · 

protagonist · Yank

major conflict · Mildred Douglas, an innocent aristocratic girl, visits the stokehole, sees Yank, and calls him a "filthy beast" and faints.

rising action · Mildred's request to see the stokehole; Yank screaming up at the whistle-blower; Mildred seeing Yank

climax · Mildred and Yank look at each other

themes · The fear of entrapment; the regression of mankind; the frustration of class

motifs · Belonging, thought, slavery, service

symbols · Steel, Rodin's "The Thinker," Apes, Steel

foreshadowing · Characters repeatedly calling Yank an ape

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