Character Sketch of Yank in The Hairy Ape | Yank as a Tragic hero/Character

Character Sketch of Yank in "The Hairy Ape"

Yank as a Tragic hero/Character 

Eugene O'Neill

Born 16 oct 1888, New York
Died 27 nov 1953, Boston
Profession Playwright
Father James O'Neill
Notable awards Nobel prize in literature (1936), Pulitzer prize for drama
Notable works "A Moon for the Misbegotten”, “Ah, Wilderness!”, “Anna Christie”

📄Table of Contents :-

📃Yank : A Tragic hero :-

The play Hairy Ape, written by American playwright Eugene O'Neill, is an excellent expressionist play published in the year 1922. It is a tragic story of a character named Yank, the protagonist of the play.

Yank is a hardworking stoker having a beastly body who shovels the coal into the furnace of the ship's engine. He is highly confident about his physical power over the ship's engine and his fellow workers. He is not good at thinking, he is good  Only at using his physical force. But he has a sense of identity and belongingness to the ship. Which turns out to be his illusion and becomes the pretext for this tragic story.

Yank as a Tragic character/hero is quite relevant here as he faces the existential and identity crisis and represents the real crisis of the larger masses and industrial workers of the contemporary society.
The Hairy Ape
Category Drama, Play
Created by Eugene O'Neill
Published in 1922
Main Character Yank
Other Characters Mildred Douglas, Long, second engineer, Paddy, Secretary
Theme Existentialism, Identity crisis

इस आर्टिकल को हिन्दी मे पढ़ने के लिए नीचे दिए लिंक पर जाएं:-Yank as a tragic hero. Or character Sketch of Yank.

✒️A Tragedy of Modern times :-

Hairy Ape is a tragic play not in the traditional or aristotelian sense but it is the representation of a tragic character in modern times. It does not present the downfall of a conventional hero in Classical tradition rather it is the story of an everyman character. 

Through the protagonist, who experiences an existential crisis, Eugene has presented the prevalent contemporary oppression of industrial working class. Yank is only a medium to present the marginalization of the working class in the industrial society.

✒️Tragic Flaws in Yank's Character :-

Yank's character has some of the tragic flaws such as his illusion of belongingness, obsession with taking revenge, excessive pride, masculinity and unthinking nature with not learning from his previous mistakes. These flaws contribute in making of Yank a Tragic character and lead to his sufferings, degradation and eventually to death. 

Note: You Can also READ:-

  • Landmarks of the life of Eugene O'Neill.
  • Character Sketch of Maya.
  • Tragedy of King Lear: Summary, plot
  • Character Sketch of Cordelia in King Lear.
  • Sub-plot in King Lear.
  • Now, let's attempt to discuss various characteristics or tragic flaws in Yank's Character. Yank's character can be discussed under following heading :-

    Let's discuss these characteristics in detailed manner.

    1) Pride over physical strength:-

    Yank has a beastly ape like body. He takes excessive pride over his physical strength. He is a superior stoker among all because of his physical strength. He believes that this entire business runs only because of his physical power. This is evident from what he says to Paddy, one of a ship worker, in scene one :-

    "I'm steam and oil for de engines; I'm the ting in noise....

    And I'm steel-steel-steel! I'm de muscles in steel".

    2) False & excessive sense of belongingness:-

    Yank has a huge sense of belonging. He thinks himself to be an essential part of the ship. His overwhelming sense of belonging displays when he remarks:-

    " Sure I'm part of de engines! Why da hell, not! Dey move, don't dey? Dey're speed, ain't dey? It's me makes it hot! It's me makes it move! Sure, only for me everything stops."

    This excessive pride and sense of belonging becomes the cause of his tragic end when he is called filthy beast by Mildred Douglas the daughter of the shipowner. Yank takes this remark as an attack on his pride and here starts his journey which only ends with his death.

    (Note: if you like this article don't forget to leave a constructive comment. It means a lot to us)

    3) Obsession with Revenge:-

    Yank when remarked as filthy beast starts his journey of revenge. He tries to kill Mildred but after being unsuccessful he leaves the ship and search her to take the revenge. In course of his urge for taking revenge he goes to fifth Avenue and IWW. Where he is cheated and rejected but he doesn't leave his revenge taking mindset.

    4) Not learning from mistakes:-

    Yank never learns from his mistakes. He makes same mistakes again and again. He is denied everywhere. Throughout his journey he finds only rejection and gets himself isolated and alienated. He does not mend his ways rather thinks Eggy to be the cause all of his troubles. He doesn't considers the need to learn from his previous mistakes and change his ways.

    Related Links
    Critical Theory Aristotle's Theory of Catharsis
    American Literature Emerson: Self Reliance
    British Literature Satan in Paradise Lost
    Linguistics Phonetics & Phonology

    Thus Yank having been denied everywhere,when gets ejected out of IWW, goes to the zoo. As he considers himself a hairy ape he visits a gorilla. He sympathizes with the gorilla. But when he releases the gorilla from the cage and tries to hug him, gorilla attacks him and throws him into the cage where he dies. Thus he is also rejected by gorilla. He is neither accepted by the human society nor by the animal world. His journey takes the tragic end.

    💡More in American Literature :-

    📍Frequently Asked Questions:-

    1) What kind of metal does Yank say he is?

    Answer- Yank says that he is steel. His muscles are made up of steel.

    "I'm steam and oil for de engines; I'm the ting in noise....

    And I'm steel-steel-steel! I'm de muscles in steel".

    2)Why does Yank call the ape his brothers?

    Anwer- Yank has a beast like body. He has unparalleled physical strength in the ship. He calls the ape his brothers as he believes that he and ape belong to the same club.

    3) What is the real name of Yank?

    Answer - The real name of Yank is Bob Smith. He was born is a lower class family of New York.

    Next Post »


    Click here for comments
    February 14, 2022 at 7:11 AM ×

    Thank you Gaurav. Your views means a lot to us.
    Do give your constructive comments on other articles as well. I will we looking forward eagerly.


    Your Views and Comments means a lot to us. ConversionConversion EmoticonEmoticon