The Hairy Ape by Eugene O'Neil

The Yank as a Tragic Character in the Play “The Hairy Ape”

3 Mins read

The play “The Hairy Ape” was written by Eugene O’Neill in the 1920s. The main character in this play is a hard-working sailor who has been in the navy for six years and just arrived back to New York City from his latest voyage, which was very difficult. The Yank’s life changes when he sees the upper class people and how they live, which he then compares to his own life. He eventually becomes tired, frustrated, and resentful due to his lower-class status at work, among other things.

Where does the Yank fit in the context of Eugene’s O’ Neil’s play?

Eugene O’Neill’s play, The Hairy Ape, is a seminal work in the early days of American experimentation with existential philosophy. It is a look at a sailor on a ship captained by a tyrannical Austrian capitalist who rubs shoulders with the rich and powerful while at the same time being unable to see the beauty that surrounds him.

The sailor, Yank, is a brute of a man who is the representation of an American working class which had become aware by the 1920’s that it had been marginalized by the country’s social changes. The Hairy Ape is an important work that still resonates today, but its importance does not lie in the message that it conveys. Instead, its value lies in the way that it enacts the messages that it seeks to send.

What is Yank’s tragic flaw?

Yank’s tragic flaw is that he never learns from his mistakes. The audience watches him make the same mistakes over and over again, and he never seems to learn from his actions. How does Yank deal with his tragic flaw? Yank is in denial. He thinks that everyone loves him and that all his troubles are caused by his best friend, eggy.

Yank acts as if eggy was the reason for all his problems and doesn’t realize that he is really the cause of most of them. Yank doesn’t understand that he needs to learn from his mistakes and change his ways. Therefore, yank does not mend his ways, and the tragic flaw continues to haunt him.

Read About: Symbolism in Oedipus Rex by Sophocles

How does Yank’s tragic flaw affect all of his relationships?

Yank’s tragic flaw has severe effects on different relationships . For example, Yank’s tragic flaw pretty much causes the death of his mother. It causes the death of his father. It causes his relationship with his family to deteriorate. It causes his relationship with the only person who truly cares for him to deteriorate.

So in general, Yank’s tragic flaw is responsible for all of the unfortunate things that happen to his life.

What is the Yank’s struggle, according to Eugene O’Neill?

O’Neill is suggesting that the Yank’s struggle is about his inability to reconcile two worlds: one of violence and foulness, and the other which he imagines is full of love. This self-imposed conflict drives him mad. The Yank can not be like the father and he does not want to be like the son. This is why his language is so confused.

The Yank’s dream of love is the only way he can straighten out his language. This idea of language being twisted or confused for O’ Neill. The Yank has many dilemmas that are related to his inability to understand himself.

O’ Neill uses many different types of writing to create the Yank’s world. He used play-like dialogue to give a sense of realism. It is a gritty reality. The Yank uses slang and foul language in everyday situations to express his emotions.


Eugene O’Neill is one of the greatest playwrights in American history. He uses the harsh language of men as in “The Hairy Ape”, a play about an unthinking laborer. It is about the effect of industrialization and technological progress on the workers.

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