In The Hairy Ape, Eugene O'Neill is adopting an
ironic style to satirize the human condition in the
modern capitalist world. Staging Man like an ape is
very significant. This theatrical technique is to extend
the original perception of man as a ‘political animal.’
The playwright adopts the Greek understanding of
politics. Man is a political and social being who can
live and act only in the company of men. Writing on the
relation between the State and the Individual, Aristotle
argues in The Politics, that "the state belongs
to the class of objects which exist by nature, and man
is by nature a political animal (politikon zoon)" (59).
Man is an organism, whose nature is to live in an
association, a polis or an organization. In this
context, O’Neill and Arendt seem to echo each other in
their political thoughts and assumptions. Arendt begins
with the question: “Man: a social or a political
animal?” (22). She reaches the idea that man is active
in the political and social sphere. In The Human
Condition, she writes that “to be political, to live
in a polis, meant that everything was decided
through words and persuasion and not through force and
violence (26). O’Neill attributes the ape good qualities
of a political thinker. The ape’s eloquent speeches aim
at persuading his inmates and the chorus to understand
political manifestations. Indeed,
speechless action would no
longer be action because there would no longer be an
actor, and the actor, the doer of deeds, is possible
only if he is at the same time the speaker of words.
The action he begins is humanly disclosed by the
word, and though his deed, can be perceived in its
brute physical appearance without verbal
accompaniment, it becomes relevant only through the
spoken word in which he identifies himself as the
actor, announcing what he does, has done, and
intends to do. (Arendt 178– 79)
O’Neill insists on the political action which precedes
the call for freedom in the polis. Yank is the best O’Neillian example of political bankruptcy and
deterritorialization in the American polis. He is a
lonely figure, alienated from the world, yet active in
his revolutionary protest. Indeed, the ape is the
ancestor of human being who is fated to live in a state
of frustrated bewilderment. Despite the difficulty of
staging the zoo scene, in a tragic closed circle,
O'Neill is able to make the comic burden of the gorilla
a power of doom. The referents 'ape', 'monkey',
'gorilla' are clear evidences that the subject is
tragically fated to act like a political animal. Yank
objects to being territorialized and annihilated in a
hysterical and neurotic state. He struggles for
emancipation and freedom from the nihilist capitalist
Hysteria, neuroticism and paranoia are the Guattarian
postmodern devices manifesting the psychical trouble and
madness of a schizophrenic desiring machine, like Yank.
O’Neill launches new sites for anti-oedipal traps in (post)modern
drama. He anticipates the birth of new modes of
struggle, revolutionizing the theatrical scene. Thus, he
is surveying and mapping realms that are yet to come.
Discourse analysis can free the theatrical speech from
the contingency of time and fixed understanding of
conceptions, such as schizophrenia and nomadology. The
method adopted to do this task is termed, by Deleuze and
Guattari, schizoanalysis. Thus, "schizoanalysis must
devote itself with all its strength to the necessary
destructions. Destroying beliefs and representations,
theatrical scenes" (Deleuze and Guattari, Anti-Oedipus
The subjects in The Hairy Ape suffer from severe
setbacks. They rehearse the political thoughts emerged
in the ideologies of Lincoln and Jefferson. They are
demanding their unalienable rights, like the blessings
of liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. In this
respect, In An Outline of American History, Smith states
that "largely Jefferson's work, The Declaration of
Independence, adopted July 4, 1776, not only announced
the birth of a new nation, but also set forth a
philosophy of human freedom that would become a dynamic
force throughout the entire world (73). Eugene O’Neill
articulates the thoughts and attitudes of the mob who
protest and contest, in schizophrenic manner, demanding
liberal democracy as a sacred right:
VOICE. Sssh! (reading) "Like Cato I say to this Senate,
the I. W. W. must be destroyed! For they represent an
ever-present dagger pointed at the heart of the greatest
nation the world has ever known, where all men are born
free and equal, with equal opportunities to all, where
the Founding Fathers have guaranteed to each one
happiness, where Truth, Honor, Liberty, Justice and the
Brotherhood of Man are a religion absorbed with one's
mother milk, taught at our father's knee, sealed,
signed, and stamped upon in the glorious Constitution of
these United States!" (a perfect storm of hisses,
catcalls, boos, and hard laughter). (The Hairy Ape 153)
Unlike the derelicts in The Iceman Cometh, the subjects
in The Hairy Ape are not dreamers. They are activists
and thinkers who are liable to radically move in order
to belong to the world of human qualities, a state of
becoming, where subjecthood is not territorialized by
the totalitarian regime. Their belonging is conditioned
by their actional desire. The American subjects refuse
totalitarianism declaring ‘the right to have rights’ as
Arendt claims in The Origins of Totalitarianism. Yank’s
schizophrenic desire is not limited to emancipation
only, but also extended to participation in the
political sphere. In fact, the bourgeois are against the
establishment of national institutions where the subject
can perform socio-political actions that protect the
rights of the community. In this
respect, it is worth
quoting Arendt, in the aforementioned book, that
the fundamental deprivation of the human rights is
manifested first and above all in the deprivation of a
place in the world which makes opinions significant and
actions effective. Something more fundamental than
freedom and justice, which are rights of citizens, is at
stake when belonging to the community into which one is
born is no longer a matter of course and not belonging a
matter of choice, or when one is placed in a situation
where unless he commits a crime, his treatment by others
does not depend on what he does or does not do. (296)
The battle of Yank, identified with the ape, takes place
in an alien territory - a zoo. Yank is jailed deprived
of the right of freedom, choice and action. He is
isolated and atomized by the government so that he
cannot exercise any political action. Indeed, the
totalitarian state keeps active agents in jail. That is
their right to do, but it is an offense of the right of
the human subject.
YANK. (Suddenly starting as if awakening from a dream,
reaches out and shakes the bar – aloud to himself,
wonderingly) Steel. Dis de zoo, huh? (a burst of hard
barking laughter comes from the unseen occupants of the
cells, runs back down the tier, and abruptly ceases.)
VOICES. (mockingly) The Zoo? That's a new name for this
coop – a damn good name! Steel, eh? You said a mouthful.
This is the old iron house. (The Hairy Ape 150)
O’Neill utilizes “Voices”, like the chorus in ancient
drama, to refer to American individuals who want to
exercise collective action in the public space. Their
voices are full of pejorative words and deeds,
emphasizing the pursuit of public happiness. They are
nomads raising credible voices full of neuroticism, rage
and vengeance against the capitalist totalitarian
governors, who are blood (money) suckers. The
totalitarian practices of the capitalists are behind the
sickness and miserable conditions of the derelicts,
bottom people in the American Melting Pot. The 'swine
capitalists' are referred to as "the bleedin'
parasites"(The Hairy Ape 147); there is a voice
"I refer to that devil's brew of rascals jailbirds,
murders and cutthroats who libel all honest working men
by calling themselves the Industrial Workers of the
World; but in the light of their nefarious plots, I call
them the Industrious Wreckers of the World!"
YANK. (with vengeful satisfaction) Wreckers, dat's de
right dope! Dat belongs! Me for dem! (The Hairy Ape 152)
In The Hairy Ape, O'Neill is skeptical about the
movement of the industrial workers’ association, "the Wobblies" (founded in 1905), because they are unable to
abolish capitalism or realize any social change. The
weight of the perlocutionary forces of the protagonists,
in The Hairy Ape, heal the audience in a melodramatic
atmosphere to be schizorevolutionary desiring machines,
and stand firm like 'steel' and 'iron' (Yank's words)
against the repressive and oppressive power of the
totalitarian bourgeois. O’Neill seems to adopt a
schizophrenic style as if he was schizophrenic. The
question that haunts O'Neill's audience, especially in
The Hairy Ape, is how the subjects proceed in their
tragic dilemmas to become not only schizophrenics but
also nomads. "The nomads invented a war machine in
opposition to the State apparatus," write Deleuze and
Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus (24).
O’Neill draws further dimensions for the fight between
the bourgeois and the working class. The capitalist
bourgeois in the western world become imperialists, as
depicted by Arendt in The Origins of Totalitarianism.
Indeed, the American subjects initiate a violence to
emancipate the community in the low strata of the polis
from national despotism. The latter is the evil product
of totalitarianism. The bourgeoisie are interested not
only in the political rule, but also in capital. The
system of the bourgeois is based on the investment of
the political and economic power. In the same line of
thoughts, Arendt argues that this thirst for power is
"the essential cause of their nihilism (…) which
preached the superstitious of progress with the really
vulgar superstition of doom, and preached automatic
annihilation with the same enthusiasm that the fanatics
had preached the irresistibility of economic laws"
Eugene O’Neill stages the polis as the place where
totalitarianism is widespread destroying the dreams and
the movements of the working class. In the early
twentieth century, the capitalist governors in the
American polis exert totalitarian policy. They transform
the low and middle strata of society into derelicts,
living and acting like apes. The tragic atmosphere in
the tragicomedy, The Hairy Ape, reflects the mood of the
early years of the twentieth century. Indeed, the
playwright problematizes and historicizes the crisis of
subjectivity in America through factual realities. Yank
is a stereotype in the United States. He is the American
subject who wants to actively participate in the
political game. But, his potentiality of political
action is suppressed by the imperialistic totalitarian
regime. The subjects who sympathize with Yank, the
miserable ape, are staged at the closure of the play/the
farce as monkeys "chattering and whimpering wail". The
wail fills the hollow theatrical space with gloom, grief
and sarcasm. They become nihilist desiring machines and
martyrs of the fakeness of the capitalist ideals.
Through staging the apes, Eugene O'Neill renders theater
a kind of circus. Like William Shakespeare, O’Neill
dramatizes the human condition in a derisive tragic
style, depicting the world as a stage of apes. Here, it
seems that the polis is reduced to have the structure of
the stage as a cinematic kind of place. The audience may
be purged when social concerns like capitalism,
industrialism, totalitarianism and political unrest are
enacted in critical tragicomic manner. This leads to
advocate what Ward states: "Capitalism had infiltrated
all of existence, and had taken away expression and
satisfaction. All desires under capitalism were 'false,'
'mediated' desires" (150).
The American subjects, in The Hairy Ape, are machines
acting mechanically, killing each other. Desire for
liberty leads to violence of all kinds against oneself,
the other and groups. The stokehole becomes like hell.
The subjects embrace the same doom under the lure of
their material, libidinal and psychical desires. They
are led by the desire that seduces them to be at war
with one another or with themselves. The pulling force
of desire and the pushing power of doom coincide in the
same ground or circuit. O’Neill’s protagonists are
territorialized subjects, who are doomed to be dead
machines in cryptic territories. Thus, the stokers are
"outlined in silhouette in the crouching, inhuman
attitudes of chained gorillas" (The Hairy Ape 135).
Further, for Travis Bogard, O'Neill creates at least the
outlines of the American drama of social protest such as
the case of Yank, Hickey and their inmates. In The Hairy
Ape, the subjects are moving and revolutionizing the
audience. O'Neill's subjects are the proletariat who are
fated to be schizorevolutionary. They are quite
conscious of the necessity to move and alter their doom,
seeking the right course of liberty, dignity and
happiness. O'Neill stages them as beasts overcoming
Freudian schizophrenic schemata to embrace postmodern
subjectivity that finds its essence in a continuous
process of schizophrenic contest.
O'Neill's schizophrenics are resisting their psychical
entrapment in a revolutionary lifestyle against social
and political oppression; they are insurgents longing
for new frame of standardized subjectivity. They are
like apes yearning to free themselves from the iron bars
of the zoo, which are symbolically capitalist or
anti-oedipal barriers. Suffice to say, the capitalist
polis with its state apparatuses become solid barriers
whose transgression is a mockery of oneself:
YANK. (dully) I must been dreamin'. I thought I was in a
cage at de zoo – but de apes don't talk, do they? (The
Hairy Ape 150)
VOICES. (With mocking laughter) you're in a cage aw
A kernel (hard laughter – a pause) Say, guy! Who are
you? No, never mind lying. What are you?
Yes, tell us your sad story. What's your game?
What did they jug yuh for?
YANK. (dully) I was a fireman' stokin' on de liners.
(then with sudden rage, rattling his cell bars) I'm a
hairy ape, get me? And I'll bust youse all in de jaw if
yuh don't lay off kiddin' me.
VOICES. Huh! You're a hard boiled duck, ain't you!
When you spit, it bounces! (laughter)
Aw, can it. He's a regular guy. Ain't you?
What did he say he was – a ape?
YANK. (defiantly) sure ting! Ain't dat what youse all
are– apes? (The Hairy Ape 150-51)
O'Neill is "drawing an explicit link to Darwin's theory
of descent from apes and its connection to abolitionist
movements in the Anglo-American world" (Dowling 562).
O'Neill invokes a Darwinian idea that the human subjects
die, but the flows of their desire will be more invested
by new desiring machines who cannot avoid the same
fate/trap stored in the libidinal economy. In his
critical comments on O'Neill's The Hairy Ape, Dowling
writes, that the play "contains his most explicit
statement on Darwinism and American Culture" (562).
Then, it is noteworthy also that O'Neill's staging of
the subject like an ape is an irony reflecting what
Nietzsche writes in Thus Spoke Zarathustra:
What is the ape to man? A laughing-stock or a painful
embarrassment. And just shall man be that for the
overman: a laughingstock or a painful embarrassment. You
have made your way from worm to man, and much in you is
still worm. Once you were apes, and even now, too, man
is more of an ape than any ape. (12)
Like Nietzsche, O’Neill depicts all men as apes
revealing the general state of mankind. There is no
difference between men as they are fated to live in the
same stagnant/territorialized conditions, aspiring
towards the “overmen”. They share the same qualities and
furies. They also worry about the waste of their
potential and the deprivation of security. The hairy
ape, Yank, is like the “last man” who is tragically
fighting for happiness. He takes risks in a
schizorevolutionary manner, developing his potential to
attain a state of becoming- that of the superman/overman.
At this level, O’Neill expresses his disgust of the
“last man” and the end of the thinking subject. The
hairy ape, speaking and thinking subject, celebrates the
defeat of the human spirit which gives birth to the
superman. Superhuman struggle, which is based on
theatrical schemes, is the audacious individual’s strife
in the mediocre society, marking the end of history.
However, whatever the spatial boundaries are extended,
the American capitalist subject seems to act in a
cramped space "imprisoned by white steel," where any
attempt of resistance brings about another circuit of
oppression and entrapment. All species/descendents of
the ape will face the same truth about themselves
whatever the spiritual changes they may attain, even in
the construction of new cultures, Nietzsche’s estimation
in The Birth of Tragedy. Here again, it seems that this
complex idea is radically conceived by Eugene O’Neill.
Life intensities are endless as the flows of libidinal
capitalist desire are unalterable. Social consciousness
is revealing the necessity of libidinal investments with
new codes and superhuman qualities.
In The Hairy Ape, the subject is symbolically caged
struggling for deterritorialization – freedom from
socio-political constraints and (illegal) codes. Again,
the tragic irony is that the animal is the active
speaking subject. The subject, essentially Yank, is a
machine made of blood and flesh:
PADDY. … I'm thinking in by steel from a sight of the
sky like bloody apes in the Zoo! (With a harsh laugh) Ho
– ho, devil mend you! Is it to belong to that you're
wishing? Is it to belong to that you're wishing? Is it
a flesh and blood wheel of the engines you'd be? (The
Hairy Ape 127)
YANK. … I'm steam and oil for de engines; I'm de ting in
noise dat makes yuh hear it; I'm smoke and express
trains and steamers and factory whistles; I'm de ting in
gold dat makes money! (The Hairy Ape 128-29)
The use of similes in the tragicomedy gives the actors
the strength to manifest their rage, anxiety and deep
neuroticism. The 'steam', the ' smoke', the 'dynamite'
are the signs of war, will-to-life and metamorphosis.
Indeed, The Hairy Ape is an urgent call to schizophrenic
revolution or rather deterritorialization. It is an
attempt not simply to escape the state of social,
economic and political crisis, but also the tragic
stasis resulting from the dissatisfaction of the
It seems to me that the target of Yank’s revolution is
not as Travis Bogard argues to belong to the modern
world of higher technologies, but rather to cut with the
two worlds of animality and machinery. Both cannot endow
the subject with peace and normalized standardized
essence of selfhood and citizenship. Perhaps, Yank, the
major protagonist in the play, heeds to live with the
superhuman codes to resist the crushing fate of the
materialist nihilist system; a mixture of Nietzsche’s
will-to-power and Schopenhauer's will-to-life gives
birth to desiring machines. Indeed, Eugene O’Neill draws
further inferences from Schopenhauer’s philosophical
work, The World as Idea and Will. He believes in the indestructive nature of the will. It is the will that
shapes the world and vice versa. This cognitive
perception gives much importance to the timeless
character of the will. But, human will is identified
with determinism, which implies the timeless and
spaceless fateful reciprocity between the two doctrines.
On the basis of Schopenhauer’s philosophy that Free Will
or Freedom is expressed in idea or thought, O’Neill
seems to heighten these controversies in The Hairy Ape,
insisting on the efficacy of the power of Fate in terms
of necessity. In this respect, self-consciousness forms
the boundaries of the workings of Free Will and
Determinism/Fate. In On the Freedom of the Will, Arthur
The business of the self-consciousness is only the
volition, together with its absolute power over the
parts of the body, which power is actually meant in the
expression "what I will. "Moreover, only the use of this
power, i.e., the act, makes of it volition, even for the
self-consciousness. For as long as it is in the process
of becoming it is called a wish. (17)
The best way of becoming is getting through the process
of schizorevolution against the repressive codes of the
state apparatuses. In the first half of twentieth
century, American groups were so motivated by
socio-political desires, but they are suppressed by the
power of the state or the State Apparatus (as it is
called in Marxist theory). In On Ideology, Louis Althusser adopts the Marxist theory stating:
Remember that in Marxist theory, the State Apparatus
(SA) contains the Government, the Administration, the
Army, the Police, the Courts, the Prisons, etc., which
constitute what I shall in future call the Repressive
State Apparatus. Repressive suggests that the State
apparatus in question ‘functions by violence’ – at least
ultimately (since repression, e.g. administrative
repression, may take non-physical forms).
I shall call Ideological State Apparatuses a certain
number of realities which present themselves to the
immediate observer of distinct and specialized
At this point, Foucault's conception of power is like
Althusser's perception of ideology. It expresses the
fateful interests and ideas of a group/class. The
question of ideology4 is bound up with the controversial
issues of politics, power, dominance and resistance.
From a large standpoint, ideology shapes collective
desire. This interacts with power and resistance to
determine the doom of the community. The impact of
ideological apparatuses is manifest in the deception of
the subjects about their true condition.
The discursive practices of the subjects, in The Hairy
Ape, reveal the degree of their awareness of their
distorted subjectivity. They represent the Americans
denigrated at the bottom of social strata. They are
searching unity through revolutionary actions. The aim
of revolution is to belong. But belonging is inevitably
a fall into territorialization. It is like being born
under the dispensation of a certain doom. Then, it is
worth noticing that the subjects are not the category of
machines conceived by Marx in stagnant state as slaves
of the capitalist stream. They are moving, struggling
for, what Francis Fukuyama coins, liberal democracy, a
better system than any of the alternatives. In this
respect, Diggins portends:
And in Eugene O’Neill’s modern America, democracy leaves
the mind uniformed of any conception of the desirable
and with no easy means of self-realization. The specter
that haunts democracy is desire, that mysteriously
spontaneous emotional force that the will cannot govern
and the mind cannot command. Faced with this modern
human condition that threatens our sovereignty, the
playwright may help us understand how difficult it is
for America to be truly ‘the land of the Free.’(8)
Despite oppression of the impersonal institutions in
America, the subjects express their desire for vacuous
principles: "Liberty! Justice! Honor! Opportunity!
Brotherhood!" (The Hairy Ape 153) Here the playwright
dramatizes the strangulation of freedom and the absence
of democracy. He criticizes the capitalist government
with contempt and mockery, letting the subjects express
their desire for breaking away from the capitalist
institutions and the moral ethics of the polis. He
criticizes the government’s despotic power and its
hostility to the principles of freedom. In fact, O'Neill
stages the unfair practices of the governors to
hypothesize deterritorialization against despotism.
Here, it is worth evoking the idea that the subject’s
stratagem of fight for democracy echoes Plato’s
demonstration of imperfect societies in The Republic:
‘Then democracy originates when the poor win, kill or
exile their opponents, and give the rest equal civil
rights and opportunities of office, appointment to
office being as a rule by lot.’
‘Yes,’ he agreed, ‘that is how democracy is established,
whether it’s done by force of arms or by fighting its
opponents into withdrawal.’
‘What sort of society will it be?’ I asked, ‘and how
will its affairs be run? The answer, obviously, will
show us the character of the democratic man’
Would you agree, first, that people will be free? There
is liberty and freedom of speech in plenty, and every
individual is free to do as he likes.’ (375)
The 'damned bloody governors' represent the ideological
authority that dominates the polis and its state
apparatuses. The subjects protest against the game of
votes and the absence of democracy. They ridicule the
concept of the political institution and its legitimacy
in the American capitalist society. Yank ensures that
"Votes! Votes is a joke, see. Votes for women! Let them
do it!" (The Hairy Ape 148) Long, also, (excitedly)
expresses the gang's desire for votes: "We must impress
our demands through peaceful means – the votes of the
on-marching proletarians of the bloody world!" (The
Hairy Ape 147) The subjects are acutely aware of the
necessity of being equal in the sight of God; they are
on-marching proletarians who are engaged in a
schizophrenic movement rejecting the power of the vile
government. They drink, think and speak simperingly with
great cynicism and amusement. They preach laws and
justice refusing their miserable living condition. They
liken life in the polis to ‘hell’, because they are
harshly deprived of exerting their will freely. They
desperately complain about their discrimination by the
political institutions. The latter alienate the subjects
in a circle of desolation, cynicism and paranoia.
YANK. (with abysmal contempt) Hell! Law!
ALL. (repeating the word after him with cynical mockery)
LONG. (feeling the ground slipping from under his
feet-desperately) As voters and citizens we kin force
the bloody governments.
YANK. (with abysmal contempt) Hell! Governments!
ALL. (repeating the word after him as one with cynical
mockery) Governments! (The word has a brazen metallic
quality as if their throats were phonograph horns. It is
followed by a chorus of hard, barking laughter.)
LONG. (hysterically) We’re free and equal in the sight
of God-. (The Hairy Ape 140)
The subjects' deterritorialization in the capitalist
polis is an appalling fall in the evil net of the unfair
capitalist governors, who believe in the supremacy of
political power on constant human struggles. Upon this
pattern of encounter between the limitations of human
will and the despotic force, O'Neill builds the tragic
climax in a social and historical tragedy. The
playwright historicizes the revolt of the stoker against
the domination of the totalitarian capitalist state
apparatus. The stoker, Yank who is reduced to a man
stooping and moving like an ape attempts to escape the
animalistic forms of doom. This experiments his efforts
with the flows of humane qualities. The preconscious aim
of flight is to create a new spatial territory where
desire is in harmony with new vistas of freedom, beyond
the confinement inside the steel framework of a cage.
A POLICEMAN. (Who has come up the street in time to hear
this last – with grim humor) you'll get off at the
station you boob, if you don't get up out of that and
YANK. (looking at him – with a hard, bitter laugh) On'y
answer yuh know. G' man, lock me up!
POLICEMAN. I'd run you in but it's too long a walk to
the station. Come on now, get up or I'll fan your ears
with this club. Beat it now! (He howls Yank to
YANK. (in a vague mocking tone) Say, where do I do go
POLICEMAN. (giving him a push – with a grin,
indifferently) Go to hell. (The Hairy Ape 160)
O’Neill is advocating a socio-political fact that the
American subjects are in conflicts with the “agents of
repression, (soldiers, policemen, politicians,
administrators, etc.) (Althusser 29). Ideological
repression gives birth to revolutionary ideological
voices against the body politic, and a rejection of the
politics of the polis. The latter is the central place
where the episodes of the socio-political daily life and
scenes of protest against totalitarian domination and
injustice take place. Indeed, as Arendt contends in The
Origins of Totalitarianism, “it goes without saying that
the totalitarian regimes where the police had risen to
the peak of power, were especially eager to consolidate
this power through the domination over the groups of
people, who, regardless of any offences committed by
individuals, found themselves away beyond the place of
the law” (288).
The polis is the stage where the subjects insist on
their Civil rights, revolt against despotism and express
their discontent with the constitution. Here, O’Neill
helps the audience not only to be purged of wrath, but
also of fear of being actively involved in a bloody schizorevolution against the
polis and its unfair
institutions. The subjects share the same psychical acts
which become common stimulus for radical change. It
seems to me that O’Neill is not simply a witness of
socio-political anarchy in early twentieth century
America, but also an activist and perspicacious who
draws the pathway towards becoming, through what Deleuze
and Guattari call schizorevolution. He stresses the
ubiquity of strife on all levels of existence, and
objectifies the will to change for a better tomorrow.
O'Neill's realistic setting and stage directions make
his protagonist, Yank, act in a proper intriguing mode.
He is the best O'Neillian pattern to construct new moles
of postmodern subjectivity beyond ridiculous static
structure. O'Neill's dramatic venture is
schizophrenizing modern subjects to break away from the
boundaries and traps of modernity, and therefore let
them creep into veritable revolutionary territories.
Here, as Foucault specifies the notion in Critical
Acclaim for Power/Knowledge, territory is not
geographical only, but political. Thus, "territory is no
doubt a geographical notion, but it's first of all a juridico-political one: the area controlled by a certain
kind of power" (68). The subject's power of contest
against the domination of the political state apparatus,
exemplified in the body of the policeman, reveals the
degree of consciousness and the repressive effect of the
system on revolutionary imprisoned bodies, like the
hairy ape. Psychical revolution/schizorevolution needs
more spatial grounds and solid headquarters not simply
of knowledge, but also of military force. For that
reason, any attempt of psychical revolution or
will-to-power is tangled up into the realm of
The end of The Hairy Ape is very tragic and derisive.
Yank is killed under the theatrical mask – the pelt – as
a martyr. The state of becoming is doomed, like the
state of being - a state of territorialization that
grants no salvation. Death is a state of belonging to
peace, and perhaps to the cherished form of
subjectivity. The ape is at last killed by the gorilla -
by its own ghost. The ape is doomed to self-destruction.
John Orr comments that "the final and fatal embrace of
with the gorilla in the zoo puts Yank beyond human fate
and makes the audience external to his doom." (170).
Indeed, the nihilist is doomed to be killed by his own
beliefs in a desperate condition, realizing the absurd
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