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The Hairy Ape

Eugene O'Neill

Scene Five

Scene Four

Scene Six

Summary

Yank and Long walk down "Fif'Avenoo" (Yank's pronunciation of Fifth Avenue) in New York City somewhere in the Fifties. On Fifth Avenue we can see the storefront windows of a furrier and a jeweler. Both stores have outrageously priced items, such as monkey fur and diamonds, in the windows. Long has brought Yank to Fifth Avenue to seek out Mildred. Long tells Yank that they are trespasses on Fifth Avenue as members of the Proletariat. Yank cannot believe how clean the sidewalks are and tells Long he could eat an egg off them. Yank asks Long where all the white collar workers are. Long informs Yank that they are in church and will be out on the streets soon. Yank discloses that he once went to church when he was a kid. Although his parents never attended, they made Yank go. Yank also shares that his father worked on the shore in New York and his mother died of the "tremens." After his mother died, Yank briefly helped with trucking in the market and then shipped in the stokehold.

After waiting a while longer, Yank is becomes angry that he sees no one like Mildred on the streets and tells Long he wants to get out of the area, as it is too clean and fancy and gives him pain. Long remind Yank that he came to get even with Mildred for the incident in the stokehole. Yank bursts, "Sure ting I do!" and tirades about how he will get even. Long tells Yank he's been looking at the whole issue between him and Mildred wrong, that he should not just be upset at Mildred, but at the whole bourgeois class. Long wants Yank to be class conscious. When Yank hears this he tells Long to "bring on the gang!" Yank and Long's attention is suddenly caught by the jeweler and furrier's windows. While peering in the windows, Long rages about the prices of the furs and diamonds, prices that easily equal the work of many firemen's voyages or even the price of feeding a family for a year. Yank seems momentarily impressed by the furs and diamonds, but admits they do not "belong," just like Mildred. Long notices monkey fur in the window and tells Yank the rich certainly would not pay for a hairy ape's skin. Clenching his fists, Yanks anger grows.

Churchgoers begin to filter down the street. Long tries to calm Yank down and tells Yank to treat the people with "proper contempt"—treat them like horses. As Yank glares at the rouged, overdressed women and men, a "procession of gaudy marionettes" he snorts in disgust. He places himself directly in the middle of the churchgoer's path. The people ignore Yank and walk around him. Yank purposefully jumps in front of a gentleman with a top hat, but the man only mutters, "beg your pardon." Long is frightened and is certain the cops will come soon, but he cannot control Yank. Yank approaches a woman and asks her if she would like to crawl under the docks with him. The lady walks by Yank without a glance. Yank yells that she does not belong, and that none of the people belong. Yank proudly points to the towering skyscraper above. Yank tells them that he is the skyscraper, he is the steel, he is the engine that puts the skyscraper together and pushes it higher. Yank tells the people that they are dolls and do not move like he does, the do not possess the force that he does. Still without an audience, he yells the people that they are garbage and ash the firemen throw out to sea. Enraged, Yank forcefully bumps into more people but is still unable to get a reaction. The people mechanically squawk, "beg your pardon." Yank pushes himself into a Gentleman calling for a bus. Yank is knocked down, but sees the opportunity to start a fight. Yank punches to man in the face, but the man does not react and tells Yank that he made him loose his bus. The man calls on the nearby police who club Yank to the ground, all the while no one noticing.

Analysis

In Scene Five, Long attempts to teach Yank a lesson. According to Peter Egri, Long means to demonstrate that "Yank's individual [humiliation from Mildred] is part of a general pattern."

Acting as the voice of Marxism, Long has cleanly divided Mildred and Yank into the proletariat and the bourgeois classes. The proletariat is the lower, working class and the bourgeois is considered the upper, aristocratic class. Yank is a Marxist student. Although he does not recognize the proper class names (bourgeois and proletariat) or know the philosophy, he embodies the spirit of Marxism. Marxism predicts that the lower classes, the workers will rise and take over the Bourgeois in a great revolution. Yank attempts to start this revolution on his own. On 5th Avenue he attempts to disrupt and bother "her [Mildred's] kind."

Long does, however, give Yank the needed encouragement to start his rampage. When the men first arrive at 5th Avenue, Yank wants to leave. He tells Long it is "too clean and quiet and dolled-up" and gives him pain. Long reminds Yank that they came to get back at Mildred. He also informs Yank that everyone he will see on 5th Avenue is just like Mildred, effectually giving Yank a bigger target. Yank tells Long to "bring on de gang!" A Marxist is made.

Yank's fails to impose himself on the Bourgeois he encounters on the street. He cannot attract attention to himself even by forcefully bumping into people, accosting a lady or screaming out, "Bums! Pigs! Tarts! Bitches!" The person that finally takes notice of Yank is a Gentleman that Yank causes to loose his bus. The Gentleman only calls the police because Yank interfered with his bus schedule. The Proletariat's helplessness is only equaled by the Bourgeois' egocentrism. The men and women of 5th Avenue are, indeed, like Mildred. They are described as "a procession of gaudy marionettes, yet with something of the relentless horror of Frankenstein in their detached, mechanical unawareness." The people on Fifth Avenue are detached from all things natural and have become artificial, solely concerned with themselves. O'Neil has suggested that human faces might even be obscured in this scene with masks, saying that "From the opening of the fourth scene, where Yank begins to think he enters into a masked world, even the familiar faces of his mates in the forecastle have become strange and alien. They should be masked, and the faces of everyone he encounters thereafter, including the symbolic gorilla's."

Yank is awakened to the sameness and great generality of members belonging to a like social class. In Scene Four, Yank begins to recognize the sameness of his own mates on the Ocean Liner and in Scene Five he sees the likeness all upper class to Mildred. Yank's new understanding of class intensifies his struggle to break free from his class boundaries while simultaneously making his attempt seem all the more futile.

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conflict in scene I of the hairy ape

by inafree, October 30, 2013

What conflict are there in the scene I of the hairy ape play?

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