The Hairy Ape by Eugene O'Neil

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

Synopsis

Although one of his lesser known one-act plays, "The Hairy Ape," written in 1922, followed the success of his first two Pulitzer Prize-winning plays. This drama follows the disturbing dehumanization of Yank, a ship's fireman and a representation of the lower class. He feels superiority from his brute strength until he meets Mildred, the well-intentioned daughter of an extremely wealthy steel magnate. She initiates Yank's uncertainty and disillusionment concerning his place in society and humanity, leading to his bitter anger and ultimate demise. While the character of Long introduces hints of socialist ideas in the play and Paddy wistfully recalls the days before machinery, these commentaries serve to enhance the powerful conviction of the terrible human toll of industrialization. "The Hairy Ape" was received largely as thought-provoking entertainment in O'Neill's day, and it continues to provide readers today with an insightful view of a pivotal time in American society, ultimately exploring human nature and a society that would endanger and disassociate many of the hard-working people within it.
 

About Eugene O'Neil

See more books from this Author
Eugene O'Neill was born in New York City, the son of popular actors James O'Neill and Ellen Quinlan. As a young child, he frequently went on tour with his father and later attended a Catholic boarding school and a private preparatory school. He entered Princeton University but stayed for only a year. He took a variety of jobs, including prospecting for gold, shipping out as a merchant sailor, joining his father on the stage, and writing for newspapers. In 1912, he was hospitalized for tuberculosis and emotional exhaustion. While recovering, he read a great deal of dramatic literature and, after his release from the sanitarium, began writing plays. O'Neill got his theatrical start with a group known as the Provincetown Players, a company of actors, writers, and other theatrical newcomers, many of whom went on to achieve commercial and critical success. His first plays were one-act works for this group, works that combined realism with experimental forms. O'Neill's first commercial successes, Beyond the Horizon (1920) and Anna Christie (1921) were traditional realistic plays. Anna Christie is still frequently performed. It is the story of a young woman, Anna, whose hard life has led her to become a prostitute. Anna comes to live with her long-lost father, who is unaware of her past, and she falls in love with a sailor, who is also unaware. When Anna finds the two men fighting over her as though she were property, she is so angry and disgusted that she insists on telling them the truth. The man she loves rejects her at first, but then later returns to marry her. Soon O'Neill began to experiment more, and over the next 12 years used a wide variety of unusual techniques, settings, and dramatic devices. It is no exaggeration to say that, virtually on his own, O'Neill created a tradition of serious American theater. His influence on the playwrights who followed him has been enormous, and much of what is taken today for granted in modern American theater originated with O'Neill. A major legacy has been the nine plays he wrote between 1924 and 1931, tragedies that made heavy use of the new Freudian psychology just coming into fashion. His one comedy, Ah, Wilderness (1933), was the basis for the musical comedy, Oklahoma!, itself a groundbreaking event in American theater. O'Neill's plays in the 1920's and early 1930's were highly successful, but then O'Neill abandoned the commercial theater on a cycle of historical plays about the United States. Although O'Neill had originally projected an 11-play cycle spanning the story of a family from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, he only completed two of these works : A Touch of the Poet (1957) and More Stately Mansions (1962). At about this time, O'Neill also began to write the intense, brooding, and highly autobiographical plays that are now considered to his best work. The Iceman Cometh (1946) is set in a bar in Manhattan's Bowery, or skid-row district. In the course of the play, a group of apparently happy men are forced to recognize the true emptiness of their lives. In A Long Day's Journey into Night (1956), O'Neill examines his own family and their tormented lives, a subject he continues in A Moon for the Misbegotten (1957). O'Neill's work was highly honored. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1936 and Pulitzer Prizes for Anna Christie, Beyond the Horizon, Strange Interlude (1928), and A Long Day's Journey Into Night, which also received the New York Drama Critics Circle Award.
 
Published July 1, 2004 by Digireads.com. 112 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference, Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography, Westerns. Non-fiction

Rate this book!

Add Review