Hairy Ape as a Modern Tragedy Essay

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The Hairy Ape displays O'Neill's social concern for the oppressed industrial working class. Eugene O Neill’s The Hairy Ape can be considered as a tragedy. But it is not a conventional tragedy in the Aristotelian tradition but is a modern one. Its subject matter and theme is the same, but its form is different. It is a great tragedy with a difference. In later part of my answer I’ll try to evaluate the play as a modern tragedy.
A modern tragedy is a term used in literature to often describe a playwright that depicts ordinary people in tragic situations. The hero is usually a victim of social forces, and is faced with difficult situations. Normally, all the central characters in modern tragedies die, or are destroyed in the end. Elements of
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The entire action develops through 8 short scenes, and every scène is a step in the disintegration of Yank’s personality. If there is any villain in the play, we must not find that the villain is any God or fate. But it is the mechanical forces of the social environment. Attention is focused throughout on the spiritual decay of Yank. He begins to see in him a sight of hairy ape. This carries him to the gruesome death.
Now the question arises whether the play Hair Ape is a successful tragedy or not. I think, it is a play of great significance. Its theme which is handled with perfect artistic mastery is quite close to the core of modern life. And From the above discussion it is clear that the play Hairy Ape is not a classical tragedy. But if we carefully think about the play, we will find that it has all the quality to be a modern tragedy because its hero, his sufferings, and his tragic death all fullfil the condition of a modern