Paddy: Character Analysis in The Hairy Ape

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NOSTALGIC ABOUT PAST

      Paddy is an “old, wizened Irishman” (123) who longs for the more romantic days of the clipper ships. He is reminded of healthy seafaring men could breathe the fresh air and experience the feeling of freedom on the wide-open sea: “Twas them days men belonged to ships, not now. ’Twas them days a ship was part of the sea, and a man was part of a ship, and the sea joined all together and made it one”.

      Paddy represents a lost time, a time of innocence and purity, when man could experience “oneness” with nature, a feeling denied to men at sea in the new machine age. Paddy represents what has been lost to the modem Everyman, represented by Yank.

AS A SINGER

      Paddy’s favorite song is ‘Whisky Johnny’ which praises whisky as the life of man. He is pulled up by Yank who is “tryin’ to t’ink”. Paddy sings sea chanties and gives a rhapsodic monologue about the old days of the “fine beautiful ships” and the “fine strong men in them - men that were sons of the sea as if ’twas the mother that bore them.” In those days, he says, “you worked under the sky and ’twas work wid skill and daring to it... Twas them days men belonged to ships, not now. Twas them days a ship was part of the sea, and a man was part of a ship, and the sea joined all together and made it one.”

CRITICISM OF THE CAPITALIST CLASS

      Paddy is critical of the rich class and blames it for the plight of the working class in the Industrial Age.

BELONGS TO THE PAST

      Paddy is always reminded of his Irish home which he had to leave due to extreme poverty. He never suffered from any sense of alienation in it. The image of his Irish home has always haunted his mind. He continues to be identified with it even after his long absence from home. Paddy has presented a memorable picture of the days of youth in this play. It was the time of beautiful ships with tall masts, driven by strong and courageous sailors. They worked in pollution-free environments and enjoyed good health and natural postures. They had ‘clean skins’, ‘clear eyes’, ‘straight backs and full chests’. They were also ‘brave’ and ‘bold’. They belonged to the ship because they were properly looked after by their sympathetic employers. They had job satisfaction and enjoyed frill freedom and self-respect. They were all romantic in nature and sang songs while sailing on ships. They loved nature and felt perfectly at home in it. They nourished beautiful dreams and enjoyed warm sun-shine and inhaled pure air. They loved work and never suffered from any sense of boredom or alienation. There was a perfect coordination between man, ship and nature: “’Twas them days men belonged to ships, not now. ’was them days a ship was a part of sea, and a man was part of a ship, and sea joined all together and made it one”.

GLORIFICATION OF THE PAST

      Paddy is all rooted in the past and is never tired of glorifying it. He hates the present for its hostile attitude towards the petty stokers. He praises the past in which there was a harmonious relation between Nature, man and civilization. He blames the modem capitalists for destabilizing the life of the sailors and disturbing the traditional harmony for serving their selfish ends. The loss of harmony makes him observe no significant difference between man and caged apes.

NO SENSE OF BELONGINGNESS

      Paddy refuses to buy the contention of Yank that they belong to the ship. He is totally fed up with the humiliating life on the ship and wants to go back to the period of his youth. He tells Yank that his back is all “broken” and he is “destroyed entirely”. He is pulled up for “beefing” by Yank. It is life of suffocation, having no interaction with Nature. He feels “caged in by steel from a sight of sky like bloody apes in the Zoo”.

      Paddy’s nostalgia is clearly dramatized in details in The Hairy Ape. He lives in the present but is deeply rooted in the past. He is a stoker on a transatlantic liner who is all fed up with this life of suffocation and humiliations. He finds himself totally alienated from the main stream of life as well as nature. The ship, which Yank calls his home, is hell for Paddy. It is a life away from home, devoid of the basic needs of life

CONCLUSION

      Yank longs for the more romantic days of the clipper ships. He is reminded of healthy seafaring men could breathe the fresh air and experience the feeling of freedom on the wide open sea. Paddy represents a lost time, a time of innocence and purity. Paddy is critical of the rich class and blames it for the plight of the working class in the Industrial Age. Paddy is all rooted in the past and is never tired of glorifying it. He is totally fed up with the humiliating life on the ship and wants to go back to the period of his youth.

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