The Hairy Ape by Eugene O'Neill


The Hairy Ape
Title : The Hairy Ape
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 140695683X
Number of Pages : 46

Eugene Gladstone O Neill 1888 1953 was a Nobel prize winning American playwright More than any other dramatist, O Neill introduced American drama to the dramatic realism pioneered by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, and Swedish playwright August Strindberg, and was the first to use true American vernacular in his speeches His plays involve characters who inhabit the fringes of society, engaging in depraved behaviour, where they struggle to maintain their hopes and aspirations but ultimately slide into disillusionment and despair O Neill wrote only one comedy Ah, Wilderness , all his other plays involve some degree of tragedy and personal pessimism O Neill s first published play, Beyond the Horizon, opened on Broadway in 1920 to great acclaim, and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama His best known plays include Anna Christie Pulitzer Prize 1922 , The First Man 1922 , and The Hairy Ape 1922 In 1936 he received the Nobel Prize for Literature.


The Hairy Ape Reviews


  • Nandakishore Varma

    As an Indian, I grew up with a spiritual theatre tradition which was non realistic and stylised, played on a bare arena stage Kathakali, Koothu, Koodiyattam are some examples of our traditional stage and at the same time, a secular theatre which was very realistic and played on a proscenium stage so I never linked the two together as different species of the same animal It was only when avant garde and expressionistic theatre developed popularity in the early eighties that I realised drama As an Indian, I grew up with a spiritual theatre tradition which was non realistic and stylised, played on a bare arena stage Kathakali, Koothu, Koodiyattam are some examples of our traditional stage and at the same time, a secular theatre which was very realistic and played on a proscenium stage so I never linked the two together as different species of the same animal It was only when avant garde and expressionistic theatre developed popularity in the early eighties that I realised drama could be much much than the social interest plays I had seen till then.Ever since I read The Emperor Jones, I have been entranced by O Neill s grip of the medium how he could take the play beyond the narrow confines of the traditional stage He does this by stressing the non realism of the medium The limitations of the traditional stage thus becomes its strengths This play is no different.The thread of the narrative is very thin Yank, a moronic and ape like seaman who is a chieftain of sorts below deck among his fellow wage slaves, has a moment of truth when the philanthropist daughter of the steel magnate who owns the ship he works in, calls him a Hairy Ape This is not done in insult, however the girl, a shallow socialite, is just overwhelmed by the hell like atmosphere in the engine room where the men are stoking coal and Yank s huge voice, foul language and aggressive behaviour doesn t help However, it makes him fixated on the girl in a love hate relationship and he proceeds on a mission to destroy her world What follows is a descent into bestiality in the depths of the soul thought not in the way one imagines it would be.The play, done in relatively short scenes, shifts in time and space drastically At all times, the playwright makes it clear that the settings should not be realistic The play alternates between dark and light, above and below, inside and outside showing Yank s struggled to grow from the Ape he is afraid that he may be he sits like Rodin s thinker at each milestone of his degradation The hell like atmosphere of the ship bowels and the jail is so well etched that I could actually build the scene in my mind The chorus of the background players is masterfully planned first the shouts of the sailors, then the curses of the jailbirds and finally, the chattering of the monkeys And the end is typical O Neill, where all pretense to reality is abandoned and we may be pardoned for imagining a fantasy conclusion.Though not as impressive as The Emperor Jones, this play is nevertheless very powerful and would have a huge impact on the audience if properly staged

  • Fatemeh Beygi

  • Jessica Barkl

    I know, I know, another play for my Representative Plays class, and not your typical O Neill, but, gosh darn it It s good Especially for prisoners They really empathized with the lead character and had images and understandings of him that I would never have come up with in my own female on the outside perspective A great example of expressionism and O Neill s unique way of interspersing techniques and theater forms that is truly pluralistic and thus American.

  • Manab

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  • Paweł

    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 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

  • Sandy

    I m an animal A lowly engine worker falls for a rich debutant And is then violently reminded of his place in the societal structure.

  • Zoeraye

    Not sure why I gave this play three starsI m changing it to one bc I really didn t like it That probably makes me sound terrible but I just wasn t a fan Hearing other students read the parts out loud drove me kinda crazy hahahaha

  • Lydia

    Finally, an O Neill play I can get on board with The Hairy Ape is a commentary on class in America and brutally points out how divided we are as a nation Unfortunately, a lot of what O Neill was saying pre Depression still holds true His use of expressionism heightens the drama without hitting the audience over the head.

  • Abeer Abdullah

    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 of a perfect form to communicate this specific subject matter.

  • Steffi

    I don t care that this is one of the most important plays in the history of the American drama It is a terrible read.