The Hairy Ape

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WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy Ape was written in 1921, a period of strong class conflict within the United States. In O'Neill's expressionistic fable, we meet Yank, a stoker from the bowels of a luxury ocean liner, perceived master of his universe from where he lives "below," but whose sense of personal power and confidence is shattered by a brief encounter with a wealthy and beautiful female passenger from "above." Through the tragic arc of his social awakening, Yank sets out to understand and combat a society which views him as an uncouth misfit - a mere "hairy ape".