Methods of Characterization in The Hairy Ape

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Methods of Characterization in The Hairy Ape Eugene Gladstone O’Neill was born October 16, 1888, to Irish-American parents in New York City. His mother, Ella O’Neill, reserved and genteel (Sheaffer 15), came from a prosperous Cleveland family. His father, James O’Neill, from a poor family, was an actor who became synonymous with Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo, a role he performed over 3000 times (Sheaffer 8). Driven by fear of poverty, James worked nonstop and constantly tried his hand at get-rich-quick schemes, such as buying and selling real estate. Eugene had one older brother James. During Eugene’s early years, the family toured around the country with James Sr.’s acting company and spent each summer vacationing in New London. Eugene grew to hate theater life with its constant moves and unreliable income. He attended Catholic schools growing up, and he went to Princeton in 1906. Eugene spent his first year loafing and neglecting his studies, and he was dismissed for “poor scholastic standing” (Sheaffer 125). In October of 1909, he secretly married Kathleen Jenkins before sailing to Honduras on a gold-prospecting expedition. On his return, six and half months later he learned he had a namesake, Eugene Gladstone O’Neill. He neglected his responsibilities as husband and father, however, and he was divorced in 1910. For the next two years he served as a crewmember on various sailing boats and steamships. Those experiences served as material for his future sea plays. At the end of 1912, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and was admitted to Gaylord Farm sanatorium in Wellingford, Connecticut, for six months. It was here, away from alcohol and the vestiges of wild living, ... ... middle of paper ... ...12, 1997, 27. Carpenter, Frederic I. Eugene O’Neill. New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1964. Chothia, Jean. Forging a Language: A study of the plays of Eugene O’Neill. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1979. Diggins, John Patrick. “‘The Hairy Ape’ and the FBI”. The New Leader. April 7, 1997, 21. Egri, Peter. “'Belonging' Lost: Alienation and Dramatic Form in Eugene O’Neill’s The Hairy Ape” in Critical Essays on Eugene O’Neill. James J. Martine, ed. Boston: G.K. Hall & Co., 1984. Hofmannsthal, Hugo. “The Beggar and The Hairy Ape” in Eugene O’Neill’s Critics: Voices from Abroad. Horst Frenz, et. al. eds. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1984. O’Neill, Eugene. Four Plays by Eugene O’Neill. New York: Signet Classic, 1998. Sheaffer, Louis. O’Neill: Son and Playwright. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1968.

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