The Hairy Ape: Play Scene 5 - Summary & Analysis

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      The fifth scene opens three weeks of Yank’s decision to show who was the “hairy ape”, he himself or Mildred. Yank sets out in search of Mildred to seek revenge for destroying his sense of self. Yank and Long are seen in the comer of Fifth Avenue on a fine Sunday morning. The atmosphere is clean and well tidied. The sun is up and gentle breeze is blowing and the shops are adorned displaying costly jewels and the rich colors of all varieties. The background of magnificence is cheapened and made grotesque by commercialism.


      The Fifth Avenue is a prohibited area for the proletariats (poor workers). Yank is obsessed with the exclusive idea of murdering ail the white-colored capitalists. Long informs him that all have gone to attend the Sunday church-services. Yank is totally disillusioned by religion or God. He left his home and first worked as a petty worker in market and then came to Brooklyn waterfront where he began his career as stoker. Long’s remark that they are born to serve their masters provoked Yank beyond limits. He tells Long that he is fed with the gaudiness of Fifth Avenue. Long further provokes Yank by saying that he should think of taking revenge not only on Mildred but the capitalists’ class as a whole. Long shows Yank posh storefronts prominently displaying expensive merchandise; he wants Yank to understand Mildred’s insult as a condition of the class structure. “I wants to awaken yer bloody clarss consciousness,” says Long. “Then yer’II see its “cr clarss yer’ve got to fight, not ‘er alone”.

      Mildred’s humiliation of Yank is symbolic of the humiliation of the entire working community, asserts Long. Yank spits on his hands and says belligerently: “De more de merrier when I gits started. Bring on de gang”. Long informs him that he will meet them when the church services are over.

      Long is sparing no opportunity to make Yank furious about the social superiority of the capitalists’ class. He draws his attention to a monkey fur for which costs two thousand bucks. He wants to convey to Yank that the real monkey like him is far inferior to the monkey fur in the eyes of the capitalists. This personal remark has infuriated Yank and he bursts out: “Christ! I w’ll fix her”. Yank wants to take law in his hand by using force but Long reminds him that it is the economic, not the physical strength, that matters in the modem times.


      Yank comes across people returning after attending the church-services. Yank walks up swanky Fifth Avenue shouting to be recognized, only to be ignored by the wealthy indifferent strollers. Long advises Yank not to use force for settling his scores with the capitalists. Yank has no faith in the power of vote to end the supremacy of the capitalists’ class. He knows that only force is needed to demolish the myth of capitalism. Yank is expecting the arrival of the rich after the church services are over. Soon he finds the flow of the people originating from the church. The gentlemen are dressed in Prince Albert’s, high hats, pants, canes, etc. and the women are rouged, calcimined, dyed and over-dressed to the nth degree. The men are moving in a very casual manner fully lost in their business-like talks about American Bazaar, income-tax, false principles, radicals, etc. In order to attract their attention, Yank addresses them without getting any response. Finding him ignored, he bumps into them but this too has Med to get their attention. They think it wastage of time to talk to an insignificant creature like the hairy ape. The women ignore his obscene gestures and remarks and have consciously ignored him. In his effort to pull out a pole, he hits against a fiat a hat-worn gentleman who is running to board a bus. Yank lets drive a terrific swing, his fist landing full on the fat gentleman’s face. But the gentleman stands unmoved as if nothing has happened, and only says, “I beg your pardon”. Yank finds it a fine opportunity to display his physical strength. But in the meanwhile an officer arrives and arrests Yank for creating disturbance and trying to use force. Yank is arrested and is lodged in a jail for creating a nasty scene in Fifth Avenue.



      The setting of Fifth Avenue is highly expressionistic. A general atmosphere of clean, well-tidied, wide street; a flood of mellow, tempered sunshine; gentle, genteel breezes. In the rear, the show windows of two shops, a jewelry establishment on the corner, a furrier’s next to it. Here the adornments of extreme wealth are tantalizingly displayed. Up the side street Yank and Long come swaggering. Yank is wearing dirty dungarees. A foreman’s cap with black peak is cocked defiantly on the side of his head. He has not shaved for days.


      The thehie of belongingness is further extended in the Fifth Avenue scene. Yank is badly hurt but he continues to feel that he is steel and he belongs but the rich do not because they merely live on it.


      The conflict between the rich and the poor is symbolically presented in the Fifth Avenue. The place is exclusively meant for the rich people. There is a clear-cut line of demarcation between the privileged and the under-privileged classes in this scene. The proletarians are strictly prohibited from walking on the grass. Long reminds Yank that it is not a personal fight between him and Mildred but the poor workers and the rich employers. The rich can afford to pay high prices for monkey furs but do not care for the real monkey. The rich goers are dressed in Prince Alberts, high hats, pants and the women are rouged, calcimines, dyed, over-dressed to the nth degree. He further tells Yank that it is not the physical force but the economic strength that matters in the industrial age. Therefore, the poor workers can not dictate terms to the capitalists for leading a dignified life. They should not forget that mere physical force defeats itself in this all-powerful capitalistic set-up. Yank is arrested for disturbing peace and obstructing a fat high-hated gentleman who is running to board a bus. He is sent to jail for taking law in his hand for taking revenge on Mildred. He is totally ignored by the people coming from the church and who have no time even to look at the real insignificant hairy ape. He is made to realize that he has no place in the industrial set-up.

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