The Hairy Ape: Play Scene 8 - Summary & Analysis

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Summary 

SETTING OF THE ZOO

      The last scene takes place in the monkey house at the Zoo in the twilight of the next day. In one cage a sign from which the word “gorilla” stands out. The gigantic animal himself is seen squatting on his haunches on a bench in much the same attitude as Rodin’s “Thinker”. Yank enters from the left. Immediately a chorus angry chattering and screeching breaks out. The gorilla turns his eyes but makes no sound or move.

YANK FACE TO FACE WITH GORILLA

      Seeing the gorilla, Yanks laughs bitterly says, “Welcome to your city, huh? Hail, Hail, de gand’s all here”. At the sound of his voice the chattering dies away into an attentive silence. Yank comes near the gorilla’s cage and, and leaning over the railing, stares at its occupant, who stares back at him, silent and motionless. It is pin drop silence. Then Yank starts talking with the gorilla in a friendly confidential tone, half-mockingly, but with a deep undercut of sympathy. Yank envies the gorilla’s ability to avoid thinking and examining his place in the world, and lies also pities the gorilla for being stared at and judged as inferior by spectators. He frankly admits that he is seeing the real gorilla for first time in his life. He is all appreciative of the strong chest, shoulders, and arms, etc. of the gorilla. The gorilla then stands upright, swelling out his chest and pounding on it with his fist.

      Yank is happy to see the creature who can challenge the whole world. He tries to convince him by saying that both of them belong to the “same club-de Hairy Apes”. He realizes that it is this gorilla whose image Mildred discovered in him. Being no more working under her father, he is free to murder her for calling him the hairy ape. Now he discovers a close affinity between the caged hairy ape and himself. His feeling of belongingness was an illusion only. Yank pounds the rail with his fist. The gorilla also rattles the bars of his cage and growls. All other monkeys set up an angry chattering in the darkness. Yank passes one hand across his forehead with a painful gesture. The gorilla growls impatiently, Yank goes on groping.

YANK OPENS THE DOOR OF THE CAGE

      Suddenly, Yank pulls a tool from under his coat and jimmies open the gorilla cage. The loose animal embraces Yank in a deadly hug, breaking his ribs and squeezing the air out of his lungs.

      Yank opens the door of the cage of the gorilla and asks him to step out and shake hands. He plans to take the animal to Fifth Avenue where they will attack the band of Mildred. The gorilla scrambles gingerly of his cage, goes to Yank and stars at him. With a spring he wraps his huge arms around Yank in a murderous hug. There is a crackling, snap, of crushed ribs-a gasping cry, still mocking, from Yank. The gorilla lets the crushed body slip to the floor: he stands over it uncertainly, then throws it in the cage, shuts the door, and shuffles off menacingly into the darkness. A great uproar of frightened chattering and whimpering comes from the other cages. Then Yank moves, groaning, opening his eyes, and there is silence.

      But before breathing his last, he has realized painfully, “Even him didn’t think I belong”. He slips in a heap on the floor and dies. The monkeys set up a chattering, whimpering wail. In his passing away, the dramatist thought “Perhaps, the Hairy Ape belongs”.

Analysis

THEME OF BELONGINGNESS

      Yank’s dream of belongingness reaches its climax in Scene VIII of The Hairy Ape. Facing the gigantic gorilla, Yank discovers a close affinity between himself the animal. He feels at home in this set-up. In his effort to establish rapport with the gorilla, Yank is crushed to death by the animal. In his death the dramatist observes “Perhaps, the Hairy Ape at last belongs”.

END OF JOURNEY

      The last scene is the terminus of a journey into self.

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