The Hairy Ape Film Analysis

924 Words4 Pages
In any Hollywood adaptation of a written work, one can only expect to find major differences from the original story. Unsurprisingly, the Hollywood adaptation of Eugene O’Neill’s The Hairy Ape is no different. However, there are a handful of similarities between the two works from the central theme of the story to the major characters. Specifically, class struggle is prominent throughout both the film and the play, and the major characters of buffoonish Yank (or rather, Hank), Mildred, Paddy, and Long are all present. Furthermore, the crucial scene of Mildred calling Yank a “hairy ape” in the stokehold and Yank’s questioning of his identity and eventual arrest also make an appearance. However, the similarities end there, as the differences…show more content…
In their place, however, is an introduction of a useless love triangle between Mildred, the character of Helen, and the second engineer, Tony. While these changes do not drastically change the overall story, there is one change in the film that does—the shift of focus from Yank’s identity crisis to what is almost an obsession to enact revenge on Mildred. In the play, Mildred’s insult leads to Yank’s downhill spiral where he begins to question his identity and place in the world. Ultimately, Yank identifies with an ape at the end of the play, where he essentially loses touch with reality. However, in the film, this crisis is downplayed, and Mildred’s insult instead leads to Yank’s desire to enact revenge on her. As a result, the film and the play present viewers with two very storylines that diverge after Mildred delivers her…show more content…
In the original play, there are only two scenes where Yank makes contact with the upper class—first when Mildred is in the stokehold and the second when Yank is on 5th Avenue. These two scenes only offer a glimpse into the tension between the two classes: through the insult Mildred says and the fact that the upper class bluntly ignore Yank. However, as Dr. Casale had mentioned, the idea of the middle class is also present in the film. As a result, viewers are not only able to see the class struggle between the lower and upper classes, but also between the middle and both the upper and lower classes. Consequently, there are more examples of tension between the different classes as seen by Mildred’s treatment of Helen, the doorman’s treatment of Yank, Tony’s treatment of Mildred, just to name a few. Perhaps one of the most compelling images the film has to offer in reference to class struggle, however, is the fact that Yank has the whistle in his possession at the end of the film. Earlier in the film, the engineers (who are in a higher social class) are ordering around Yank and the other men in the stokehold via their whistles. The fact that Yank now has this whistle, and blows it as he sees fit, symbolically shows that he now has the power despite still being from the lower class. This

    More about The Hairy Ape Film Analysis

      Open Document