?The Hairy Ape?, by Eugene O?Neill, is a seemingly simple play that addresses complex problems in the society of the early 1900s. We have said many times in class that good art is good throughout the ages. The question that I am going to present and try to prove in this paper is; does this play's message remain relevant in our society today? I seeThe Hairy Ape? as a play of missed opportunities, social blindness, and self destruction. In my explaining of these three points, I hope to help you take notice of how this play rings true in today's society.
The main character in this play is Robert SmithYank?. He is a bruising coal shoveled (stocker) on a French ocean liner. Yank looks a bit like an ape from the constant ware of his grueling job. Scares are shown his in arched back from shoveling coal at all hours of the day and night, his taking on of the colors of the environment that he works in, and his primitive mannerism from excessive drinking. These are seen throughout the play to open the eyes of the audience to the pressing social topics of the time. When this play was on the stage, it was very successful in proving its point and was one of many contributing factors that brought change in this era. .
My first example of this play's present relevance is in the numerous missed opportunities by the main character Yank. Throughout the scenes in this play, he is given many chances by Eugene O?Neill to improve his situation in life. For example, in scene seven, Yank is given an obvious opportunity to take part in the Industrial Workers of the World. The reader or audience at first glance sees this as a way out for Yank and in most cases we genuinely want him to succeed, however this hope is quickly taken away when he act like a maniac and is thrown out of the office this is one of the most obvious examples, but if you look further back in this work you will find it again in a bit more subtle way.