“The Hairy Ape” by Eugene O’Neill was first performed in 1922. It is an excellent expressionist play.
The play is focused on a brutish and unthinking laborer who is known as Yank. In the world that is controlled by the rich, Yank searches for a sense of belonging.
He works on an ocean liner and at first while stoking the engines of the ship he feels quite secure, and he believes that he has enough physical strength to control the engines of the ship, but once he is called a filthy beast by the rich daughter of a steel industrialist, he feels very weak and undergoes a crisis of identity.
Having left the ship, he begins to wander around in Manhattan, however, he learns that he does not belong anywhere. He visits the socialites on Fifth Avenue and also tries to fit into labor organizers on the waterfront, but he does not get adjusted.
Eventually, he reaches the zoo and he is reduced to seeking a kindred being with the gorilla there. He eventually dies in the gorilla’s embrace.
"The Hairy Ape" Summarized and Analyzed
Chapter One: Introduction
Chapter Two: Plot Overview
Chapter Three: Characters
Chapter Four: Complete Summary
Chapter Five: Critical Analysis