Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
Want 100 or more?
for a customized plan.
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews December 15, 2023
December 8, 2023
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at email@example.com. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
How does O'Neill use voices and nameless characters in the play? How do these "voices" comment on the text?
O'Neill uses "voices" in The Hairy Ape to emphasize specific class structures and groups within the play. Yank aurally and physically stands out against these "voices," dramatically revealing his displacement and detachment from society at large. Yank does not "join in" with the other firemen laughing and joking in Scene One. On 5th Avenue Yank certainly does not "fit in" with the noise of the street goers, talking about church and monkey fur. And, lastly, Yank confronts voices, perhaps most strikingly, in Scene six as he sits in jail. The voices of Yank's inmates a nameless and faceless group that scorn and laugh at him. In each situation Yank encounters a force that opposes him, which he cannot "join."
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.
Symbols within The Hairy Ape are an expressionistic means to communicate and indicate abstract ideas with concrete "things." For instance, Mildred's white dress symbolically represents the artificiality and detachment of the aristocracy. Her dress makes a literal black and white contrast between herself and the coal-dusted men. Another symbol, the Transatlantic Liner, reveals the world as a big boat—complete with a "first class" on the top deck and workers below in the bowels of the ship. Steel is yet another symbol in the play, simultaneously representing great strength, industrialization and the repression of the working class. These symbols are vital because they strengthen and heighten Yank's struggle and visually signify class structure and the effects of industry on the worker.
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?
Rodin's statue "The Thinker" is perhaps society's most distinguishable symbol of thought. By taking the "attitude" of the statue in the play Yank reveals his attempt to "ape" or copy thought. In reality he does not know how to do it otherwise. While he physically embodies the cultural symbol of a "thinker" he cannot think himself. Every time O'Neill's stage direction calls for the actor to take the position of "The Thinker" Yank has met an obstacle that cannot be tackled by any other means but thought—when Yank cannot process the realities before him. After Yank is thrown out of the I.W.W. he immediately gets into "The Thinker" pose. He is desperate to make sense of his situation and to understand why the union would throw him out. Because Yank cannot process the problems before him, he is sent reeling backward on the evolutionary path—unable to function in modern society.
The real ape in Scene Eight is the only other character that takes "The Thinker" position. The ape is not included in the class or social structures of the human world. Like Yank, he sits in a cage and perhaps wonders how he can join the rest of society and like his human counterpart, imitates what humans define as thought. The ape, by sharing this habitual body position, reflects on Yanks own animalistic state—his mode of thought is no more advanced than the ape's.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Hairy Ape!