The Hairy Ape by Eugene O’Neill Essay
Updated: May 7th, 2019
In the hairy ape, the central character Yank plays the character that brings his downfall upon himself via his flaw. It is unfortunate that Mildred happens along when he is in the course of an outburst.
He explains that he misinterpreted the whole situation and overreacted when she walked in on him yelling. Yank explains to his mates that he was petrified as he envisioned Mildred as a ghost rather than a human being (Lauter et al. 29). This shows that his emotions were high but his temper was uncontrollable. He was initially a mediator in the midst of a confrontation that had ensued between his crew mates.
His outburst was caused by the whistle blower who really got his anger up. According to the notion that views a “grotesque” character in a different aspect, Yank is ready to stand by his beliefs and refuses to acknowledge any sort of reasoning that is offered by different people. He is ready to risk everything since he believes that the lady called him names in error. He is so annoyed that he would like to go out and show her that he is not the hairy ape that she called him.
Compared to Mildred who is the daughter of the owner of the ship and effectively his employer, Yank is but an extra hand on the decks of one of the ships that Mildred’s father owns. This basically implies that he is in a much lower class than she is. Yank strives to justify the fact that she should not have been there in the first place.
He insists that she ought not to have poked her nose there because she belongs up there. He is even ready to go and finish her off after she has been carried off the room. He even threw the shovel that he had in hand at her. Yank is ready to stand by his word in everything that he does. He believes that the world ought to leave him as he is and constantly tells his colleagues the same thing.
He occasionally has outbursts that he can hardly control and he has to have one of his mates next to him. He has actually lost some sense of faith in the moral world. He does not care about the consequences that his actions will evoke. By doing the daughter of one of the richest men in the world at the time, Yank would only be calling for serious trouble from all quarters. He does not relent in his quest to prove that he can show anyone who he believes has done something wrong to him.
This is shown when he attacks someone at the church and he is arrested. Yank has set his beliefs as the ultimate philosophy and nothing will deter him from following them. Even when his colleagues try to give him some reasonable explanation that will set his frame of mind to view things in another way, Yank is relentless. It is pertinent to note that Yank does not listen to any form of reason when it questions his beliefs.
He sticks to his guns and that is what may be counted as the author Sherwood Anderson’s explanation of the term grotesque. He is considered grotesque in these terms due to the behavior that he exposes. Yank exposes more of his uncouth nature when he is thrown into jail. While in the cell, he rants and raves about how he is going to get back at the girl who has caused him misery.
He is so determined to get back at her for calling him a hairy ape and does not care about the lengths that he will have to go to get at her. The fact that she is the daughter of a millionaire, as further pointed out to him by his cell mates, does not seem to distort his frame of mind. When one of the people in the cell tells Yank about the group that can help him in his quest, Yank goes for the idea. He even plans to destroy Mildred’s father’s factory by blowing it up with dynamite that he plans to acquire from the group.
Once yank gets out of jail, he goes to check out the group that he was informed will be able to supply him with assistance to carry out his plan. One thing that proves that Yank is grotesque is the fact that he announces his intentions to the secretary of the group straight to his face. Although his vendetta is more of a personal one, he is willing to get the I.W.W. group involved in his mission.
When they deny him any assistance he feels that he does not belong there. Rather, he feels like they have forsaken him. He does not see that his quest does not fit in to any ones life but his. Yank believes that the gorilla is similar to him and that their troubles are of the same kind. He releases the ape with the intention of them walking down the street and that brings about his demise by the fateful hug that the gorilla gives him.
Lauter, Paul, John Alberti, Richard Yarborough, Mary Pat Brady and Jackson R. Bryer.
The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Stamford: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2010. Print.
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