Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Special Issue on Literature No. 4 October, 2016                        Pp. 224-231

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A Modern Tragic Hero in Eugene O’Neill’s The Hairy Ape

 Bassmah AlTaher
English Department
School of Basic Sciences and Humanities
German Jordanian University
Amman, Jordan



Eugene O’Neill’s (1888 – 1953) play The Hairy Ape (1922) tackles a very important issue related to Capitalism and Industrialism that affected the United States of America at the beginning of the twentieth century. In this play we find an alienated protagonist of the low class who is perceived as a modern tragic hero of the century. What becomes of the ordinary man when everything around him is related to classicism and segregation, and the lost feeling of belonging when poverty flourishes is what O’Neill portrays vividly in the play. He is able to evoke sympathy with his protagonist, and raise serious questions in his death. This paper analyzes the protagonist from the angle of a modern tragic hero. Historical and theoretical background will be dealt throughout in order to comprehend the notion of heroism in a twentieth century era.
Key Words: alienation, capitalism, drama, tragic hero


Bassmah B. AlTaher is an English Instructor at the German Jordanian University, whose
passion is teaching, researching, and reading. A PhD holder from the University of Jordan with a
degree in English Literature; she is specialized in American Modern Literature and the Modern
Novel. Her main interests in the field of research are Film and Literature, Post-colonialism, and
African-American Literature.