The Hairy Ape
Study Questions and Suggested Essay Topics
How does O'Neill use voices and nameless characters in the play? How do these "voices" comment on the text?
How do symbols function within the Hairy Ape? Why do you think O'Neill chose to use such heavy symbolism in the text? How do they work thematically? Give specific examples of three symbols in the text, why you think O'Neill chose them and how they comment on theme.
Why does O'Neill choose to place Yank in the position of Rodin's "The Thinker"? How does this comment on the life of the industrial worker and Yank's capability for thought?
Suggested Essay Topics
Look at O'Neill's stage directions. How are they important to one's reading of the play?
Describe the language of Senator Queen's speech. What specific imagery and phrases might appeal to Yank? Why?
In your opinion, does Yank finally find a sense of "belonging"? Is "belonging" possible? How does Yank define "belonging"? Does this change throughout the text?
Mildred Douglas' father is said to work for two different steel companies. Why do you suppose O'Neill added this detail? How does is comment thematically?
How might the Transatlantic Liner be representative of a specific worldview?
How do characters feel about Hell? Pick two characters and compare their views on hell and how this is indicative of their class status.
Why would O'Neill describe Paddy as "extremely monkey-like"? What does this say about Paddy's character and history?
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