Function of Voices Chorus in The Hairy Ape

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      O’Neill uses voices for the stokers in The Hairy Ape. They are used for satirical as well as ironical purposes in it. Mostly they speak in chorus in which the separate identity of the voice is deliberately suppressed. The voices are dramatically very relevant because they highlight the limitations of the leading characters in the play.

      The voices (stokers) are men of ordinary sensibility and devoid of any serious thinking. They are worldly wise and are not unaware of the ground reality of life. They live in the present and accept life with all its limitations. They do not think about the past or the future because it can destabilize their life. They ridicule Paddy for the false glorification of the past and the condemnation of the present. They jeer at Yank when he asks the fellow stokers not to disturb him as he is trying to think. For the voices, thinking is not meant for the brainless apes.

      The voices do not grumble about their lot and accept the ship as their home. They wholeheartedly belong to it and never suffer from any sense of alienation in it. They pull up Long for equating ship with hell because they are totally identified with it.

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