Mildred Douglas: Character Analysis in The Hairy Ape

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      Mildred Douglas is the daughter of the President of Nazareth Steel, Chairman of the board of directors of the transatlantic liner. She is a girl of twenty, slender, delicate, with a pale, pretty face marred by a self-conscious expression of disdainful superiority. She appears fretful, nervous and dissatisfied, bored by her own anemia.

      Mildred is a symbol of the life of artificiality, false glamour and pretensions. She is a poseur who tries to present herself as a humanist in social life. Though introvert, Mildred publicly claims herself to be a well-wisher of the poor. She is totally exposed when she faces Yank and calls him a hairy ape and is terrified beyond limits and instantly carried by the engineers from the stokehole. Her Aunt is right in calling her a ‘poser’ who is unfit for any social work. Like her Aunt, she is also a passive character who poses to be very dynamic and socially enlightened.

      Mildred’s social mission is aimed at the study of the working conditions of the poor workers. She has to her credit some experience of social service on New York’s East side. She had also studied sociology at her college and developed interest in how the other half of the society lived. She would “like to be some use in the world” and “touch life somewhere”. But she fails to realize her dream of improving the conditions of the poor because of her racial pride and superiority complex. She has neither the vitality nor the integrity to deal with the harsh realities of life. She blames the capitalist society for killing the spirit of humanism in its bid to pile of fortunes: “All that was burnt out in our stock before I was born” and “I’m a waste product in the Bessemer process-like the millions”. It is the lust of gold which has alienated her from the underprivileged section of the American society.

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